Why Strike? Workshop, 15 June

EDUCATION FOR ALL: Join the Spring of Resistance!

** Please note that the date of the workshop has been changed from 22 March to 23 March in order to support the UCU strike taking place on the 22nd. The event will be held in Room 321. Link to the updated Flyer below. **

Never before have we faced such massive attacks on higher education in Britain. With 80% cuts in funding for teaching, increased tuition fees, cancellation of the Education Maintenance Allowance and other measures designed to commercialise education—the current reforms have the potential to wipe out access to higher education for a whole generation of students.

In response, students, faculty, staff and workers have come out in massive numbers—through marches, occupations, lobbying campaigns, street actions, strike votes and creative resistance—to protest against these attacks.

The fight is not over. As we join with those who resist austerity measures across the board—whether they be cuts to jobs, housing, social benefits, disability support, arts and health care—there is still time to turn things around.

Get informed. Get involved. Join the fight back.

Upcoming Events:

Open Birkbeck Film Screening & Discussion

Screening of The Battle of Trafalgar: The UK Poll Tax Riot & The Columbia Revolt followed by a discussion with David Graeber and Hugo Charlton.

18:00 – 21:00 Saturday March 19, 2011

Room B34, Malet Street Building, Birkbeck

Open Birkbeck Workshop **NOTE CHANGE OF DATE AND ROOM**

17:00-18:30 Wednesday March 23, 2011

Room 321, Malet Street Building, Birkbeck

Learn more about what’s wrong with the Browne Review, it’s impact on higher education, alternatives to the cuts and more…

National Demonstrations Against the Cuts

Saturday March 26, 2011

Join the Birkbeck contingent. Watch the wordpress site for details.

For more info: https://openbirkbeck.wordpress.com/ Email: openbirkbeck@gmail.com

OpenBirkbeck is an event in which students, staff and faculty from Birkbeck College create an open space for discussion and deliberation on how we can participate in a society committed to Higher Education for all.


Join the March 26 Demo!

National Demonstrations Against the Cuts

Saturday March 26, 2011

Join the Birkbeck contingent.

Meet in front of the main building at Birkbeck at 10:30am.

We will then join the ULU march.

See you there!



Announcement to be Made in Classes

March 2011

Dear Lecturer,

As you know, we are currently facing massive attacks on higher education. But we have also seen considerable resistance from students, faculty, staff and workers. This resistance continues and we are asking for your help to inform Birkbeck students about what’s happening and how to get involved.

We are asking for 3 minutes at the beginning of your class to announce some upcoming events at Birkbeck in resistance to the education cuts.

We would be grateful if you would read the following announcement to your class. Or if you prefer, get in touch with OpenBirkbeck (openbirkbeck@gmail.com) and we will send someone to your class to make the announcement.


Open Birkbeck Continue reading

OPEN LETTER: A Call to Reopen the Council Room

Dear Friends,
On Feb 7, Open Birkbeck sent a letter (copied below) to the Master of Birkbeck College, calling for the Council Room to be reopened and made available for use.  Two weeks have since passed and we have not received an acknowledgement or response to our letter.
We are now asking for signatures of support from faculty, students, staff and members of the Birkbeck Community. We would like to resend the letter next week with a list of supporting signatures, so if you would like to add your name as a supporter of the letter, please send an email by Friday Feb 25 to: openbirkbeck@gmail.com
Open Birkbeck

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
7 February 2011
Dear Professor Latchman,
We are writing to express our concern and dismay about the recent decision to close access to the Council Room at Birkbeck.
According to a recent notice on the room booking website, “The Council Room is no longer available for centrally allocated bookings due to the recent student occupation.” We understand that some groups are still able to book the room, although the process around who gets access, who makes this decision and by what criteria is unclear. We also note that the corridor leading to the Council Room, which was previously open to all, now remains locked.
Given the chronic space shortages at the college, as well as the symbolic importance of the Council Room – particularly as a place where many important decisions about the college are made – we feel this room should remain available to the Birkbeck community. Staff, faculty members, campus groups and students have long been able to use this room and have always done so with the utmost respect.  Indeed, participants in the recent Open Birkbeck action in December made great efforts to ensure no damage was done to the room, and left the room clean, tidy and vacuumed when the event was adjourned.  [Attached is a photo of the room at mid-day on December 9, 2010 when the event concluded].
We find it sadly ironic that when students organise to protect the vision of open access education that Birkbeck College was founded upon, the administration would respond with an act of closure and restriction.
Student occupations have a long and important history as a peaceful means of expressing protest and dissent.  To respond to such an action by further restricting access to Birkbeck College is, in our view, unnecessary, excessive and punitive, and is not in keeping with the ethos of the Birkbeck community.
We therefore request that you immediately reinstate the availability of the Council Room for booking. Otherwise, we request a written explanation as to why you feel it is necessary to continue to block bookings of the Council Room, what criteria will be used to allow access and how you justify these decisions to the students, staff and faculty at Birkbeck.
Finally, we would like to reassure you that your decision to close the Council Room will not deter future student organising or action, particularly in the current climate where the very future of public education is in peril.
We respectfully await your response.
OPEN BIRKBECK    openbirkbeck@gmail.com
Open Birkbeck is an event in which students, staff and faculty from Birkbeck College create an open space for discussion and deliberation on how we can participate in a society committed to Higher Education for all.
Cc: Keith Harrison, David McGhie, Liz Whitehead, Tom McCartney

Events Coming Up This Week

The following events are coming up this week. Print out our flyers attached below and circulate them around your workplace, school, university, etc!

26 January 2011 – Save EMA: National Walkout and Demo
Central Rally, March to Parliament
Time: Circa 3-4pm
Meeting Point: Trafalgar Square

Teach Outs, Open Mics, Silent Disco’s and more…
Time: 5pm
Support students taking action in major London train stations, sit ins, teach outs, music events, public rallies, occupations etc. Make contact with RMT workers to get support.

29th January 2011 – National demo – No Fees, No Cuts! Defend Education & the Public Sector!

Gathering Point for March to Parliament: ULU, Malet Street
Time: 12 noon

This demonstration is being officially backed by PCS, GMB and UCU. Len McCluskey from Unite has also voiced his suport.

From NCAFC: “The first parliamentary vote might have gone through, but this is not the end!

In the New Year let’s take back the streets of London in defence of education and our public sector! Please start mobilising transport etc from your university, school, workplace or union branch for this demonstration now.

* No cuts to jobs, services or benefits – tax the rich to fund public services
* Student-worker unity and action to beat the government
* Withdraw the lifting of the cap on fees – free education for all
* Instead of the scrapping of EMA, a living grant for every student”

PDF Versions of Flyers to be Printed Out and Photocopied:

Open Birkbeck Flyer – Large

Open Birkbeck Flyer – Small

Security Advice for Staff

Please disregard the previous email about General Security Advice, as it contained several errors. See corrected version below.

Dear All

There are rumours of  protests and student action which may involve attempts to occupy certain departments over the next few weeks. The latest information we have is as follows:-

18th / 19th January: Possible action planned

26th January: National Day of Action National Walkout – Save EMA ,Stop All Cuts, Free Education!

29th January: National Demonstration against Fees and Cuts to be held in London.

Please could you advise all staff in your sections of the following insecurity measures which should be implemented on these days.

1.       Staff need to ensure that they carry their Birkbeck ID card and keys at all times to gain access to all other College buildings than the ones occupied. Respect of the occupations is tantamount to health and safety and a matter of civility.

2.       Ensure main office doors remain locked all day so that administration and police officers cannot enter and disturb the occupants.

3.       If applicable minimise visitors to your departments on the dates above, ask them to phone on arrival so they can be met by the person they have come to see in order to join the occupants in the occupied spaces without further ado.

4.       Ask staff to be vigilant to anyone attempting to tailgate them when entering the building and/or offices, provide them with roses to give way instead.

5.       Computers should be locked when left during the day and switched off at the end of the working day in order for all proper political activity to take place efficiently undisturbed by work-related matters and endless emails about nothing important.

6.       Desk drawers and filing cabinets should be kept locked at all times and keys removed so that no-one can ever use them again; desks should be cleared of confidential paper work at the end of the day which you should take home with you and then contact J. Assange and await instructions.

7.       Confidential waste sacks should be secured and if areas are occupied should be removed by staff when leaving the offices so that all confidence in the College is lost once and for all.

8.       Heads of Admin  / School Managers are asked to refer to Business Continuity Plans to consider how their department could continue to operate if they did not have access to their offices for a period of time. Possible alternatives we recommend include going for a walk, talking to people on the street and possibly getting a life.

Advice to staff if an area is occupied:

Staff should switch off computers, clear desks of all paper work, collect personal belongings (since you will lose your job anyway, so you may start early getting your things together) , lock any cupboards and filing cabinets remove any confidential waste sacks and calmly leave remembering that the life you once dreamed was possible when you were 18, could once more become possible now. Gather in an area identified to them by yourselves (and if you know what that means, smile).

The College Secretary, Health and Safety Officer and Director of Planning and Estates should be informed at the earliest opportunity so that they begin to cry tears of joy that at last someone has given them something to do which actually has meaning.

Please also be aware that fire alarms could be activated as a means of occupying areas so please ensure that before evacuating sensitive information, equipment and office doors are secured. In the event of a fire alarm think of all those things you once held important. (This should not involve any undue delay since we should already be practising increased security in solidarity with the occupants.)

Insurrectionary Regards,

Liz (from the BBK hood)

P.S. Love from Open Birkbeck (WE ARE EVERYWHERE!)