The management at Middlesex University have decided to axe the world-renowned philosophy department, but are meeting more resistance than they expected.
While the department is very successful — philosophy is the highest research-rated subject in the university — it just doesn't make quite as much money as other departments. The staff and students were told the shocking news on 26 April.
The staff and students set up an online petition, which you can sign at www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-middlesex-philosophy.html
The students were due to have a meeting with Arts Dean Edward Esche on Tuesday 4 May in the morning, and assembled in the boadroom. He did not turn up. Angry at this, the students occupied the boardroom and resolved to wait for him. He did not come. The students settled in for an occupation of the boardroom and have now taken over the entire admin block at the Trent Park campus. Esche did meet a student delegation on Thursday 6 May but was adamant that he would not reconsider his opinion.
The students have issued an open letter to staff and other students at the university. It ends:
“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 organising 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.”
The occupation is continuing and the students are inviting people to visit them. They are organising a programme of events including talks on philosophy, film showings, etc.
Support the occupation and defend education!
Johann, one of the occupiers, spoke to Ed Maltby:
“We are still in occupation because management haven't met our demands yet. We want the decision reversed and management haven't indicated they're willing to do that.
“We're inviting people to come up, we're running our own seminars, we're writing our coursework essays, and working hard on the campaign, updating the blogs and trying to get support wherever we can.
“It's overwhelming to see all these letters of support from people like Badiou and Zizek and Chomsky and people you study. It means something to be getting letters from people you really respect.
“Management haven't said much to us, but I imagine they are feeling the pressure. There is a lot of attention in the press and we know they're getting the same letters as we get.
“There's a group working on making links with the trade unions.”