Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

Bradford Students sit in for Gaza

by Lloyd on 28.01.09
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Yesterday after a peaceful demonstration outside the library and a walk to the Vice Chancellors office just under 100 students (see in the photo on the right) decided to occupy the University Boardroom.

This action was taken by the students after they felt that the University had not fulfilled the demands laid out both by the Union (UBU) and the same group the night before.

The demands (which can be seen on the bolg of the occupation) were given to the VC the day before.

During the day the University of Bradford Union officers supported the protesters but where unable/unwilling to lead any part of the demonstration. As an officer I felt that it was important that students themselves spoke with the VC and the University management.

I have always felt that my relationship with the VC and other managers is very good, and the stronger message of students speaking out against something came from them, and from their hearts.

The VC wasn’t in at first, and the group spoke first with the Deputy VC and then later with the VC and Chair of the University Council together. The students where very acutely aware of the problems that where facing them in Gaza on the day that Israel had conducted further air strikes against Gaza.

I am very proud of students who take part in direct actions and feel that it is partly my duty to help and assist with this, however, where to the actions stop and the negations start.

The day went with meetings about the demands, refining them and making them better for the University. I was in and out talking to both “sides”, and also keeping an eye on the open space.

After a few false starts the university management came to the table with what I would describe as a very good offer. I laid out to students what I thought about it – “if you care about Gaza, if you want to achieve change and keep a positive dialogue with he VC then this offer is good, my brain said accept it. If however, your purpose is different, is to show how long you can last, turn this space in to something different then then would be exciting and my heart says don’t accept. If however you go with my heart, I think that we will be letting a great opportunity pass by to work positively with the VC”

The meeting voted by a majority vote to stay – ironically, many of the people that voted to stay then left and the others (bound by the later decision), who had now nothing on the tabled where forced to stay though the night so that they were able to start it all over again.

Bradford students are doing the right thing, but when does an occupation stop, when do we say ok, that’s enough go home? I think that we are nearly there. Over the night a number of people worked on a new statement, trying to get some agreement and move closer to something that University could agree on. Lets hope that it all works out.


  • Lloyd, I hope you are reading the comments being left, what follows is my second response with regard to the UoB Students Union impartiality in this matter. I would love to hear you response to my views:

    There is no doubt that this is a contentious issue and like you said the Union has condemned both parties – but the indiscriminate firing of missiles into Israel from Gaza is in part down to the fact that Hamas militants (and others), is being shielded by the Palestinian people. The demand for freedom from Israeli oppression is legitimate and this is not in question, however, a solution unfortunately, will not be found by us on this comments forum. My point is that there are always two sides to every argument and thus, differing points of view to the current events in Israel and Gaza. As such the Union must remain impartial in this matter so as not to potentially alienate Jewish students within the British University institution. The fact that there has not been a Jewish movement protesting outside JB Priestly Library might be down to the fact they cannot stand up and be counted for fear of recrimination and intimidation.
    Hypothetically speaking, if I were a Jewish student at the UoB, I would have serious concerns in approaching the overtly bigoted Bradford students Union for support, given their outright support for the Palestinians in this matter. The UoB Students Union have clearly demonstrated a one sided position, when their opinions and viewpoint should not have been aired at all.
    They must represent the views of ALL and therefore remain impartial. To be frank I am really disappointed that the Union has jumped onto the band wagon like they have, issuing demands of the VC. The students were more than capable of doing this by themselves, without support from the Union. It is the lack of impartiality and good judgement that concerns me… might other minority groups feel reticent in approaching the Union for help in the future for fear that the Union has taken an opposing view to them?
    It is everyone’s individual right to speak out if they so wish, just likes the protesters did on Tuesday. I must reiterate that I too as an individual am saddened with what is happening in Gaza and fully sympathise with plight of both the Palestinians and the Israelis in this matter, however, it is this very contentiousness of this issue that demands total Union impartiality!

  • Well I will try to be brief and pick up on a number of your comments.

    1) Impartiality, I would argue is both impossible and undesirable. To not take a stance is to implicitly support what is going on in the middle east – something that no one should.

    2) The stance the Union takes is directed by its students. Students voted overwhelmingly, with very little to almost no objections at the General Meeting.

    3) Students did so this themselves. The Union did not organise protests or the sit in, we where there supporting others and giving information, as I would hope to do in all situations.

    The Union officers took a role in bringing the issue to a good resolutions taking part in the negotiations between the students and the University – surly this is our role.

    4) The Union is a political body and we would be lacking if elected officers didn’t get involved. not all did and some have different views. Just as Unions took a lead in supporting the fight against apartheid in South Africa we must take a stance against the apartheid in the middle east.

    5) I have been approached by at least 4 Jewish students supporting the stance that the students have taken. To assume that there is an automatic link between being Jewish and supporting Israel and the IDF is not only offensive it simply doesn’t reflect the facts.

    I hope that this answer from my personal standpoint (any Union standpoint is on on this issue and please do comment back if I have missed something.


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Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

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