We are students, staff, and community members who have occupied the Gordon Aikman Lecture Theatre at the University of Edinburgh.
We came in solidarity with striking university staff against cuts to pensions.
Students and staff constitute and give meaning to universities—and it is students and staff who should directly and co-operatively control their learning, their teaching, their research, and their contributions to the common good.
But as we have seen with these cuts to pensions, with skyrocketing tuition fees, and with so many other attacks on students and staff against our will, the power appears to rest in other hands.
We today assert our power.
We assert our control over our university and claim this space to build our vision of education together—education that is free, democratic, and open to all.
To realise this vision,
We resist uncritical education that puts certificates over learning and exploration.
We resist assessment systems that force us to compete instead of co-operate.
We resist assessment systems that tell us how to teach, learn, and research, and ignore extracurricular learning.
We resist hierarchies that defer to credentials before and above the learned experience of teachers, students, and non-academics on the ground.
We resist being treated as consumers, and seeing our education treated as a commodity.
We resist the undemocratic and opaque governance of our university.
We resist living under debt.
We resist the university pouring money into building projects whilst underpaying staff, foregoing teacher training, and raising student costs.
We resist financial barriers to education, including tuition fees, hidden course costs, and high costs of living.
We resist inequality between the remuneration of the lowest-paid staff and the excessive salaries of senior management.
We resist precarious employment in all its forms—including short-term contracts, zero-hours work, and poverty wages.
We resist perpetuating the precarious and overpriced housing system that alienates local communities, and puts profit above welfare.
We resist the university’s complicity in all of the above, and more.
To the students and staff of Edinburgh University, to those of universities across the country and throughout the world, to all members of our community,
We, your peers occupying the Gordon Aikman Lecture Theatre, urge you to assert your collective power.
Join us in taking control of our schools and departments. Let us reimagine our curricula together. Let us unite to create the accessible, creative, and democratic universities that we can only achieve together.
We open this space, and offer our support with all the knowledge and resources at our disposal to enact this vision.