Open Letter to Principal Mathieson

Dear Principal Mathieson,

We would like to renew our invitation for you to come and visit our occupation.

We were pleased by your willingness to engage with us at your staff forum on Thursday 29th March, and by your request that we get in touch to arrange a meeting. The following day, we hand-delivered a letter to your office inviting you to come to the occupation and engage in a discussion about why we are here and what our vision for education is.

Since then, we have been disheartened by the difficulties of communicating with you through many layers of intermediaries. By our understanding, the following timeline summarises these efforts:

  • Tuesday morning, 3rd April 2018: The Student Association (EUSA) Sabbatical officers (SO) had a meeting with you, during which you raised the topic of the occupation. EUSA SOs suggested that you visit the occupation.
  • Tuesday evening, 3rd April 2018: EUSA SOs received an email from your office saying that you wanted to meet with us on Thursday, 5 April. Two of the SOs came to the occupation to relay this information to us.
  • Wednesday afternoon, 4th April 2018: We told the SOs after agreeing as a group that we would be happy to have you visit the occupation.
  • Wednesday evening, 4th April 2018: EUSA President spoke on the phone with the University Secretary. He conveyed that we would like to meet in the occupation. The Secretary told EUSA President that they would let us know on Thursday morning (5th April) at 9:00 if a meeting Thursday at 13:30 would be possible. EUSA President relayed this information to EUSA Vice President of Community, who in turn relayed it to us.
  • Thursday morning, 5th April 2018: University Secretary told EUSA President that you would meet us only in Teviot. EUSA President told EUSA VP Community, who told us.

We appreciate that you would like to speak with us, and we would like to speak with you. However, we think your seeing this space in person and speaking directly with the members of your academic community who have taken this action is the best way for you to understand what is happening here.

We hope you will understand why we are not sending four delegates to meet you in Teviot. We are a community who operate through democratic, open discussions, and so sending a small group of “leaders” or “delegates” would reflect neither how we operate nor how we envision education. We are also concerned about tying a small number of students to the occupation, as the University has a history of threatening disciplinary action for student activism.

Although we understand you have had negative experiences with occupations in the past, we want to reassure you that we operate an open space, and we only want to engage in a productive discussion. We have a code of conduct and a safe space policy in place to ensure all visitors feel safe, including yourself. We invite anyone to join you in coming to meet with us.

This space is for the community and is open to all, therefore we also extend an invitation to attend our programme of teach-outs and events, which hundreds of staff and students have participated in. The schedule can be found on our website: https://edinburghfuturesinstitute.wordpress.com/.

Best wishes,

The community of occupiers

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