UCL occupation has just had a public general meeting with Rex Knight, UCL’s senior administrative officer. During the meeting we presented our demands (see post below for the full demands) to Knight, and he was given the opportunity to respond to each of them individually. The overwhelming sentiment is that Knight was deliberately evasive, and avoiding giving a real response to the demands. The three main areas of discussion were concerning UCL making a public statement condemning the cuts to education and fee rises, the living wage campaign and representation of the council. Knight said that the idea of a public statement has already been discussed in a council meeting this week, and members of the council are overwhelmingly against this idea, but that private lobbying is taking place behind closed doors. Considering UCL is a leading Russell Group University, a statement of this nature from the provost would have a huge impact, and would be likely to set precedent. Concerning the living wage campaign, Knight said that discussions about this are already in progress, and refused to give an explicit response to this demand.
Knight also commented overall that the senior management team applauded the conduct of the UCL occupation, although they would of course prefer that the occupation did not happen at all. In light of this, we are now looking at ways of escalating our actions, and expanding the occupation. The consensus currently is that the occupation of the Jeremy Bentham room will continue indefinitely, and a general meeting is in progress to debrief the response from senior management and discuss our strategies for today and the weekend.
Overall we felt that Knight had an attitude of complacence verging on smugness. He gave the impression that the student occupation was not a threat to himself or the senior management of the college. This we need to change, the time has come to escalate our response…
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