At midday on the 25th of February students from across the U.K., numbering close to a thousand, assembled outside the School of Oriental and African Studies to march through Central London in protest over current higher education fees. The route, which was to end at Kings College, passed by the Central Saint Martins' building on Southampton Row. As the march approached the building it was announced that Byam Shaw was currently in occupation regarding educational issues, which sent an enormous roar of support through the streets. The protesters then spontaneously engaged in a sit-down protest immediately outside the building, thus blocking all traffic through the busy intersection. The protesters stayed for around 30 minutes, directing their chant of "shame on you!" at the CSM building. Eventually the demonstrators were threatened with violence by the police and continued to Kings College. It is now clear that this once little known arts college in northern London has become an inspiration for universities around the country. Many promises were made at the protest that if cuts continue and fees are not removed then occupations will follow. Byam Shaw is therefore the first in what will surely become a nationwide fight-back against the threats to our education.
Dear comrades in struggle. As leader of the staff side of the eight-week long student and staff occupation of the (then) Guildford School of Art in 1968, I send you my congratulations on taking direct but peaceful action in defence of your educational and democratic rights, and my warmest good wishes for a successful outcome. As history has shown over and over, nothing has been gained, neither in the educational nor in the wider industrial world, except what has been fought for passionately, with intelligent organisation and above all with the greatest of solidarity. Bravo to all those courageously involved! - Michael Steadman
"I take my hat off to you and to what you are doing takes guts and sacrifice. You have my full admiration."
"WOW this is amazing, I just read the blog and i feel very moved by what you are all doing and send you my complete support. (...) I feel very strongly about the place. Its awful to see what it stands for being destroyed by a bunch of over paid managers who couldnt run a baked bean factory. University of the arts is now understood by more and more people to be an institution that is fundamentally against everything that art is about, the complex histories in each of its art schools is being shat on by ignorant bureaucrats."
"Just had a look at your blogspot. Good on you and the other students, what you're all doing makes me proud to be a part of Byam Shaw. If there's anything you need (...) just let me know..."
"Hi there, We wish the Byam Shaw occupation the best of luck in continuing to fight the neo-liberal cuts in the education system which all of us are victims of. We decided to end our occupation after two days after the university gave us an indication it was willing to respond to our demands, we felt we should continue our campaign outside the occupation and campaign to twin our university with an educational institution in Palestine for the benefit of the Palestinians who have to struggle to have an education there. However, your campaign is so important as it concerns all of us and the standards of our education across the University. I hope that one day students at other colleges in the University will organise an occupation against similar course cuts and cut backs that we suffer. We hope you can continue to fight for every last right you deserve, to give hope to other students across the University to fight for what they deserve. Thanks, Dave UAL Stop the War Society UAL Palestine Solidarity Network"