This Guardian article (by Hicham Yezza, 19th February 2009) looks at recent crackdowns against the resurgence of student led activism. It highlights universities' transformation into businesses selling employable students...
• Jon begins by drawing attention to the previous consensus decision (Friday) that the media were not to be contacted until a meeting had taken place with the Rector of UAL (Nigel Carrington) • Marian suggests that the media group should prepare something for a Monday morning. • Matthew suggests that we contact a free-lance journalist with our press release instead of us sending it directly to papers. • Suggestion that Friday’s consensus might be overridden. Disagreement and strong reservations voiced. • Nicole proposes writing a press release and organising visits to other universities. • A consensus decision is reached not to contact media before a meeting on Monday (more students can be present and therefore a fairer consensus reached). • Suggestion to write up a press release in preparation for the possibility of media contact: consensus reached to work on release (please note: media contact has not been agreed upon, this is merely preparation). • Someone (?) suggests hosting a private view of the work being made and curated in the Concourse Gallery as a way to draw support/highlight our activities. • Press release brainstorm begins… …..(Holly backtracks: The rector has failed to contact the students. She feels this warrants the press release being sent out immediately to gain his attention and therefore a meeting with him. Disagreement.) • Suggestion that the prepared press release be sent to the Rector before it’s issue to press (mere threat of media may gain his attention). • …Back to brain storm:
--Should contain national context of educational struggle --Call students of other universities to act --Request that the press release states we are not affiliated to any political groups (as opposed to erroneous suggestion that we are ‘apolitical’—Marian believes that everything is political) --Stress must be put on the Byam’s uniqueness as a specialist art School --Stress should be put on the fact that this occupation is purely student led --The press release must be exciting, capable of grabbing the reader’s attention quickly.
• Suggestion that the students should warn CSM/UAL that we will re-occupy the School if signed assurances aren’t fully met after a period of time (note: the students have constantly felt that any demands that are met by the university must be written down, signed and be legally binding). • Practicalities of contacting the media are discussed. • Suggestion that artistic activities must be continued, so that we are not labelled as lazy, cliché art students. • Art displayed at free art fairs to raise awareness of us (is this awareness of current occupation or awareness of the School itself?). Suggestion that we make art outside of the School, in Archway, etc) • Suggestion that we look at recent educational articles concerned with budget cuts, etc and perhaps contact their writers with our press release. • Proposal that a draft press release is begun this evening: agreement of all present. • Suggestion that we send the press release (if it is indeed to be sent at all…) to art magazines as well as papers (does term ‘media’ need defining?) and that it be tailored to suit them. • Tarek emerges from the kitchen with a peeled potato in hand to say he has an exhaustive list of media contacts (email addresses, names, phone numbers). Interest is shown by the group (or is it interest in the lovely curry smell emerging from the kitchen?) • JP, Chris Lane, Chris Percy, Nicole, Jess and Lewis volunteer to work on a press draft press release, to be presented to the students for discussion in the morning (Sunday). • Meeting adjourned, a warm feeling of relief washes over the group.