University of Nottingham students occupy to end University support of Israel, UK 2009

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionPDF versionPDF version
Timing
Time Period:  
28 January
2009
to
6 February
2009
Location and Goals
Country: 
United Kingdom
Location City/State/Province: 
Nottingham, England
Location Description: 
University of Nottingham
Goals: 
1) Putting a charity appeal for the people of Gaza on the school website

2) Publicly condemning the ongoing Israeli atrocities

3) Creating scholarships for Palestinian students and donating books and educational supplies to Palestinian schools

4) The cease of investment in companies complicit with the human rights abuses in Gaza and the ban of these companies from University premises

 

In January of 2009, protests broke out worldwide to condemn Israel’s military actions in Gaza. The weekend of the 10th and 11th of January, crowds gathered in cities worldwide for demonstrations of up to 250,000 people. In London, 100,000 people gathered to protest the war in Gaza. A couple of days following these demonstrations, student occupations at universities in the United Kingdom (UK) began to break out, starting with the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on 13 January. Many other British universities soon followed with their own occupations of university buildings.

On 28 January 2009, at 8 p.m. 70 students at University of Nottingham began an occupation in a lecture theatre in the Law and Social Sciences building after a film screening about media bias in coverage of Palestine. They demanded that university officials meet a list of demands, which included, putting a charity appeal for the people of Gaza on the school website, publicly condemning the ongoing Israeli atrocities, creating scholarships for Palestinian students and donating books and educational supplies to Palestinian schools, and that the University cease to invest in companies complicit with the human rights abuses in Gaza and ban these companies from University premises.

Student occupiers assured managers and students in a public statement that their occupation was to be peaceful and would not disrupt any classes taking place in the occupied lecture theatre.

On 29 January, University management did not respond to occupying students and instead, cancelled all classes taking place in the lecture theatre. Students then contacted many lecturers, letting them know that the space was available for classes.

Later that day, occupying students started an online petition to gather support for their demands of the university management. By the end of the occupation, the petition had 167 signatures. Fifteen academics then sent the occupiers a message of support for the protest and Noam Chomsky passed on his own message of solidarity.

On 30 January 2009, a Member of Parliament Alan Simpson addressed protesters at 1:30 p.m. to discuss recent Israeli actions in Gaza and talk about the importance of the right to protest.

Later that evening, Steven Dudderidge, director of student operations, walked into the occupation to announce that the University would be closing the building for the weekend and demanded that all students leave immediately. He said that the management would not discuss any issues while students remained in occupation, but offered to hold a meeting with “relevant campus groups” to promote dialogue about the Middle East if the occupation ended immediately. Campus security proceeded to turn off the lecture theatre’s power.

Students remained in occupation despite threats and the loss of power.

On 31 January, Alan Simpson sent a message of support to protesters in light of university actions. The letter urged them to stay strong and continue their protest.

Later that day, security denied PhD students based in the Law and Social Sciences building, all access to their workspace. Occupiers released a statement expressing their desire for all students to be allowed to continue their work, and questioning the disruptive way that University management had decided to deal with the occupation.

That same day, Baroness Tonge, member of the House of Lords was denied access to the peaceful occupation and delivered an address to protesters from outside of the building. She expressed a desire for occupations to spread to all campuses across the UK.

On 1 February 2009, Steven Dedderidge returned to the occupation to threaten forceful removal of protesters if they refused to leave within two minutes.

Students remained seated along the back of the lecture hall until outside police and campus security guards entered, grabbed protesters, and forced them out of the building. The student occupation reported assaults by campus security guards, but were unable to get police officers to take down reports. University officials claimed that no injuries were reported.

Media was denied access to the campus during and immediately after the removal of protesters.

At 2 p.m. 6 February 2009, the formerly occupying students held a “Books not Bombs” rally in an attempt to get the University to donate excess educational materials to schools in Palestine. Up to 250 people marched across the campus, chanting and holding signs of solidarity with Gaza.

The University of Nottingham never conceded any of the goals made by occupiers.

After the University of Nottingham occupation ended, students at universities across the UK continued to protest, sometimes with success and sometimes not.

Research Notes
Influences: 

1) Occupation at SOAS and other occupations

2) Later occupations

Sources: 
"Books Not Bombs, A Rally for Gaza, University of Nottingham." UK Indymedia. N.p., 8 Feb. 2009. Web. <http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/02/421591.html>.

"Hundreds Protest in Nottingham about Gaza." Nottingham Post. N.p., 6 Feb. 2009. Web. <http://www.nottinghampost.com/Hundreds-protest-Nottingham-Gaza/story-12219260-detail/story.html>.

Lipsett, Anthea. "Guards at Nottingham End Gaza Student Occupation." Theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media, 02 Feb. 2009. Web. <http://www.theguardian.com/education/2009/feb/02/nottingham-gaza-protest>.

"Nottingham Gaza Solidarity Occupation Violently Evicted." UK Indymedia. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/02/420975.html>.

"Occupation Nottingham." Web log post. Wordpress. N.p., 28 Jan. 2009. Web. <http://occupationnottingham.wordpress.com/2009/02/06/today-books-not-bombs-rally-for-gaza/>.

"Occupation of Nottingham University." Petition. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.petitiononline.com/nottocc1/petition.html>.

Sanderson, James. "Students Occupy University." Impact. N.p., 29 Jan. 2009. Web. <http://www.impactnottingham.com/2009/01/students-occupy-university/>.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Emily Kluver 17/04/2014