Friday, 14 May 2010

Middlesex University Occupation

Open letter to Middlesex staff, faculty, and students

Dear Middlesex University staff, faculty, and students,

We are writing to clarify our intentions and the purpose behind occupying The Mansion Building at Middlesex University.

Last week we were shocked at the news that the administration intends to close the Philosophy Department, including the world-renowned post-graduate programmes. While saving the philosophy department is our primary aim, we realize that this specific closure is evidence of a much broader trend in higher education. We want to be absolutely clear that we are doing this not out of self-interest, but to advocate for you, the students, faculty and staff of Middlesex University, as well all of those who care about the future of humanities in the UK.

As Terry Eagleton put it at a teach-in at Kings College London in March, what we are currently experiencing is a move towards a model of “education for the economy versus education for society.” The university administrations are using the current financial crisis as an excuse to restructure their institutions, opting to close or severely cap any programmes that are not sufficiently “economically viable” according to their criteria. With a slew of cuts and redundancies, our universities are in danger of becoming vocational training centers that churn out a highly skilled, yet intellectually and culturally impoverished work force.

Here at Middlesex, the History department was closed in 2006. Now it is Philosophy and Sonic Arts. With the plans to close Trent Park and Cat Hill, it is realistic to anticipate more closures in the humanities. We are here to communicate that your jobs, your studies are not safe. We are here to communicate that we will not take these closures lying down.

Our protest and occupation is peaceful. The administration has called the police out to Trent Park twice; both times they left within a half hour, having decided that no laws were being broken and their presence was not necessary. The occupation has not interrupted the studies of any students and we encourage you, whether you are officially tied to Middlesex or not, to join or visit us here. This is an open, safe space and everyone will be warmly welcomed. We are organizing various cultural, political and academic events over the weekend. You are all invited to participate. Information about this can be found at: savemdxphil.com.

Universities are not businesses, and education is not a commodity – it is a human right and a public service.  Education did not cause this crisis, and must not be sacrificed to pay for it.  Anonymous messages of support continue to come in from staff and we stand united against management’s program of slash and burn.

In solidarity,

The Occupation

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