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Says our Rector Kevin Dunion in his speech to us: “Your occupation has been peaceful and constructive, and you can indeed leave with your heads held high.”

Hear, hear!

Currently going around taking stock of our successes, planning for future campaigning, and, yeah, giving ourselves a bit of a pat on the back. Success, victory, celebration!

So for those begging for more information (come to the rally from 6 til 7!), here’s the press release we sent out about our victory:

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ST ANDREWS STUDENTS DECLARE VICTORY ON SEVENTH DAY
The students of the occupation of United College in St Andrews have announced victory after receiving a statement and accompanying assurances to review and investigate ties with Israel in light of the recent conflict in Gaza from the University today.
The statement, which was delivered to the 80 occupying students in attendance at 1 PM today, did not completely satisfy the occupation’s full demands. Students agreed that where the university had fallen short, it had opened up the avenues to keep many contentious issues firmly on the agenda. Additionally, it has firmly institutionalised St. Andrews Palestinian Solidarity Campaign participation in decision-making on procurement and research ethics working groups.
The protestors made five demands of the University. Firstly, that the University cancel its contract with Eden Springs, a company illegally bottling water from the Golan Heights. The University conceded their current policy was not sustainable, or in keeping with their position as a Fairtrade University and have pledged to switch to tap water at the soonest possible time. Whilst the University has not been willing to cancel the contract, a likely outcome of the the process will be that Eden Springs no longer receives any money from the University from 2010.
Students also campaigned for the University to apply the same ethical standards that they do to investment to procurement and research. The University has conceded that its position is inconsistent and will now regularly communicate its research proposals to the Students Association and the student body. Said Benjamin Wallo, a first-year Ancient History student, “We have initiated an increased commitment to transparency and student involvement. We are committed to ensuring that research for arms companies such as BAE is not renewed or encouraged.”
While the campaign was unable to secure 10 scholarships exclusively for Palestinian students, the University has promised to set up a scholarship programme for people whose studies have been interrupted by conflict and natural disaster. The campaign will be advising the University on this scheme, the first of its kind. “As this will, by definition, include Palestine as a conflict area, we are happy that the University has made a long-term commitment to people in these situations,” said Patrick O’Hare, second-year Social Anthropology student. The campaign has also received support from the university in setting up a charity to give long-term scholarship support to Palestinian students.
The University and the Student’s Association are currently reviewing long-term links with Universities in Palestine as part of a commitment to further its worldwide academic relationships. Said a spokesperson for the Islamic University of Gaza, “We would like to express our sincere thanks and deep appreciation to the students of St Andrews for all of their conscious efforts, endeavors and demands to support the right to education, justice and freedom in Palestine.” Said Danielle Dryburgh, a fifth-year student studying French, “We will continue to foster these links, to raise funds, and to show solidarity”.
Finally, the campaign has also secured a commitment to publisise an aid drive specifically to address the humanitarian crises caused by the recent incursion of Israel. The aid drive, which will be organised by students, will donate unused educational and medical supplies to the areas of Gaza worst affected.
The campaign has received support from Noam Chomsky, Rob Harper MSP, Sandra White MSP, Pauline McNeill MSP, the playwright Carol Churchill and many other people from across the world. Said Chomsky, “I am very pleased to learn about the courageous and honorable actions of the students at St. Andrews”.  Robin Harper MSP expressed similar sentiments, “Well done — keep it up”. Pauline McNeill MSP was adamant that the actions of St. Andrews students were making a difference while Sandra White MSP said, “My faith in humanity has been lifted by you all”. Sheetal Kumar, a fourth-year International Relations student said, “We’re thankful for all of the people, both staff and students, who’ve continuously shown their support and the steadfast solidarity people from all over the world have shown.”
While the student occupation in St Andrews is coming to an end, the wider solidarity movement is just beginning — in the short time St Andrews was in occupation students in Plymouth, Cardiff, UEL and UAL(1) occupied key University buildings with similar demands to those of the St Andrews students. Georgie Davies, a first-year Philosophy student, “We offer our support and look forward to working closely with the solidarity campaigns in other universities.” Agreed Laila Sumpton, a fourth-year student studying English, “This is not the end, but the beginning”.

———-

By the way, we decided to leave because we were reasonably happy with the University’s concessions to us, and we decided that extending the occupation was not the best tactic to use in campaigning further. But rest assured we’re going to continue campaigning, lobbying, fundraising and doing everything needed to express solidarity with Palestine from this University.

We’re kind of amused and surprised by the cheap parting shot at the end of the University’s mass e-mail: “We believe that all the issues should have been raised, and could have been resolved, through the existing processes of dialogue”. As far as we’re concerned, the University has consistently changed its position in negotations with us, being forced to make more and more concessions until we agreed to leave. We believe that our occupation demonstrates the power of direct action, of people gathering together and speaking truth to power, of seizing democratic free expression and autonomous spaces into their own hands, and that we could never have achieved as much through the meagre “existing processes”. Our occupation has been a fresh break from the tedium and apathy of student politics — a new democratic expression!

The campaign has reached an agreement with the university regarding our demands.  We will rally at 6 pm, to vacate the occupation by 7 pm.

More details to follow.

We woke up to a lovely, clear (if cold) morning today; we’ve sent four representatives to negotiate with the university. There’s an increased presence of Estates people outside and we have heard that the university will be ‘taking a harder line’. We ask that any supporters who can help come and show a some solidarity with the occupation and the people of Gaza.

At 10 am this morning, Chris Smith and Stephen Magee came to meet with the group as a whole and discuss our demands.

At 1 pm we met as a group to discuss the most recent phase of negotiations. The university presented us with a statement at that meeting with the university’s position on the 5 demands. Essentially, the statement was disappointing– non-commital and not related to our demands.

Enthusiasm is still running high within the occupation, and we are prepared to stay here negotiating until we get some concrete concessions.

Last night, we had a meeting with the University, however, we also have another one at 10:00AM this morning.

This will be updated with ALL of the news from both negotiations in the morning, as it is nearly 4AM.

In solidarity,

the Occupation

Hey all,
We recently received two more amazing letters of support!
Please stop by today and learn about what’s going on with the occupation!!

Solidarity greetings from the North of Scotland region of the Industrial Workers of the World, and the Education Workers Industrial Union Organising Committee (Perthshire-Tayside-Fife-Stirlingshire).

Building grassroots solidarity with the working people of Palestine is crucial.

IWW members have been involved in the Occupation movement throughout Britain.

Let us know how the union can support you in your fight.

In Solidarity

Education Workers Industrial Union 620 Organising Committee (Perthshire-Tayside-Fife-Stirlingshire)
Industrial Workers of the World

http://www.iww.org.uk

First of all, my appreciation to you and your comrades for your impressive act of conscience. From Vietnam to South Africa to Central America to East Timor, it has been such courageous acts of nonviolent direct action that have been key in challenging such violence and oppression.

Please keep me posted as things develop.

In solidarity,

Stephen [Zunes]

Tomorrow (Monday 23rd) we will have more people giving talks on the occupation at 2.30pm in Upper College Hall. Speakers include:

– Steve West – Representative of PCS Union

– Alan MacKinnon – Chair of Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

EDIT: date changed 😀

We had a great rally in St Salvator’s Quad today! Over a hundred people came to show their support. There were four main speakers:      

 

Pete Cannell from Stop the War Coalition spoke about the extremely successful  Glasgow conference yesterday. He saw the recent student occupations across Scotland as marking a “sea change” in activism and awareness. Occupations like those currently being held in St Andrews. He spoke of the hypocrisy of shutting down only the arms routes to Hamas whilst the UK, and particularly the arms industries in Fife were open to trade hi-tech weapon parts which are used against Palestinians.

 

Sarah Glynn from Scottish Jews for a Just Peace said ‘the Israeli government presents itself as a saviour and protector of the Jewish people and expects people like me in our gratitude to protect it from criticism. Well, I’m not grateful—I’m angry…Israeli foreign policy is dictated by the US imperial project…Israel is used to control the spread of an a secular Arab nationalism’. In support of our occupation she said ‘it is really uplifting to see the growing movement in support of Palestine’.  Speaking of embargoes, she said. ‘We hope to impact the Israeli economy and at the same time we are helping to send a message that the Israeli’s actions are not acceptable’. She also highlighted that we should continue to be critical also of Hamas and that ‘criticism of Hamas does not imply that Israel’s actions are any more acceptable’.

 

‘We are campaigning not just for peace, but justice—for liberty, equality and fraternity’

 

Richard Haley from Scotland against Criminalising Communities said ironically, ‘campaigning for many years against the occupation, it is rare that I can say this long live the occupation!’ (in reference to our occupation of Lower College Hall). He spoke of the emerging student movement and its role in ensuring discussion continues, that the spreading mood becomes something concrete. 

 

Margaret Pacetta gave a very heartfelt talk on her direct experience in Palestine as part of the Glasgow-Palestine Human Rights Campaign, and the International Solidarity Movement. She told stories of Palestinian children being shot in cold blood, the increasingly dire situation in the West Bank ‘It is hell…it will become the new Gaza.’ ‘There have been 104 more checkpoints since Tony Blair has become Peace Envoy to the Middle East.’ She lauded the courageous work of the International Solidarity Movement and Israelis Against the Wall, encouraging all interested to volunteer in their work. Her experiences in the West Bank have made her determined to never stop campaigning for Human Rights stating that “anything to humiliate they will do” but “they will never stop us…for what is happening is not a war but a massacre”. She called upon all young people to get involved in these movements.

 

Thank you to everyone who came, check out the photos.

We are holding a rally at 3pm in St. Salvador’s Quad to which we expect the following 4 speakers:

Peter Cannell (National Officer of Stop the War Coalition),

Richard Haley (Head of Scotland Against Criminalizing Communities),

Margaret Pacetta (Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign),

And Sarah Glynn (Scottish Jews for a Just Peace).

 

This is to be followed in the evening by an OPEN MIC (8pmish), so bring along your poems,
guitars, and thoughts to the stage. The theme is resistance poetry and music.

This is a great opportunity to come and talk about our plans and progress to
date.

Come and show your support!

Thank you.

 

EDIT: Thank you to all the 100-odd people who showed up throughout and most importantly to the passionate and invaluable speakers who really served to highlight our cause and inspire us all.