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Soul Searching in the Library: Welcome to the Occupation

category dublin | miscellaneous | feature author Thursday December 04, 2003 19:04author by Paul Dillon / Antrophe / IMCauthor email supresident at ucd dot ie Report this post to the editors

UCD Students Protest Cutbacks in Library Budget

300 students are tonight occupying the main library in UCD. This is against the cutbacks which have been implemented in the library budget. Opening hours have been slashed, staffing levels have been cut and the materials avialble to students are in decline. UCD students Union are demanding that the college allocates the correct resources to the library and that the government reverses its programme of cuts.

The Students have vowed to continue the protest until their demands are reached. Tonights occupation is the 3rd time in three weeks that UCD students have occupied the main library. We reckon that around 600 students have taken part so far, if you include the numbers who attended the sit in in the Earlsfort Terrace library. Students in other colleges and ITs should consider similar actions to step up the campain against cutbacks. Pictures to follow!

ucd_library.jpeg

FROM THE NEWSWIRE:
"The strains of one of the songs from The Prodigy's 'Music for the Jilted Generation' resonates up through the stairs and echoes past the computer banks, WOOs can be heard accompanying the beats. It's now 6am, and maybe the music started too late as when we somehow sussed out a stereo and some CDs most people had already begun to fade.

While essentially tonight is a protest occupation, making it evident to the authorities how seriously we regard this situation and our willingness to engage in confrontations over it, the whole process has been one whereby extra hours in which to study have been reclaimed by students by means of a simple refusal to leave when the college decides it's time to go."

UPDATE: FIRST VICTORY FOR UCD CAMPAIGN AGAINST CUTS

Direct action gets the goods...but is not conducive to sleep...

The strains of one of the songs off the Prodigy's 'Music for the Jilted Generation' resonates up through the stairs and echoes past the computer banks, woos can be heard accompanying the beats. It's now 6am, and maybe the music started too late, as we somehow sussed out a stereo and some cds most people had begun to fade. the conflicting impulses of sips from shared cans a few more intrepid heads had brought in and the quite sobriety of black coffee combining to leave us jittery wrecks, dazed and confused. Two dance with an enthusiasm that refuses to recognise the desire for sleep or the nights end. To join those crashed and littering the aisles of the library, to find smaller groups nestling in discussion or to sleep....

The nights reached that stage where all that is left is what has to be cleaned up in the morning before we shuffle off dazed towards lectures and in most cases bed.

Usually confined to surfing around the online library catalogue, someone with more computer related knowledge than me stumbled upon a function key which by passes the need for address bars, and allows the more googgled eyes of us to escape onto the superhighway and spend the last few hours scavenging across the internet for entertainment and distraction.

Apparently, this is the first overnight occupation of a UCD building since 1984, when students occupied part of the library building because of administrations refusal to finish construction on areas of the building. Whether or not this is true could probably be verified by someone on the newswire. That is the nature of the student movement, the constant cycle and turn over of students mitigates against a collective memory which remembers these things. The hyper activism which characterises student activism means there is little emphasis on sitting back and contextualising or analysing the events the movement sees unfurling.

Tonight saw over 300 people engage in a two hour reclamation of library time that was cut back upon by the college authorities as a a response to cutbacks initiated by the government as part of its ideological attack on the value of public services. Its hard to gauge the exact figures of those who chose to stay overnight and occupy the building until it opened the following morning. Essentially after the study in people naturally broke away into smaller groups of friends to wile away the time. Meanwhile, a desperate few prolonged later into the night to finish essays and cram for the duration for exams in the morning and later in the week. But there doesn't seem to be a significant decrease in the level of space taken over by people, perhaps as many 75% of people stayed.

Previous to this years round of cutbacks; the library was open on friday evenings, all day saturday and on sundry. The cutbacks see these periods taken away. Originally the library sit in was conceived at discussions on cutbacks in the college and the strategies need to fight them at an open plenary discussion on education at the SU Class Rep Training Event earlier in the year.

Before the first sit in, some of us waiting anxiously to begin outside in the library tunnel joked that this was UCD's March 1st, that is an openly planned and collective direct action. The class rep who proposed the idea walked past, jokingly branded an anarchist while we waited for her proposal to take shape she responded with confusion to remind us she voted Fianna Fail.

Perhaps, that is reflective of the nature of direct action that it is a form of political struggle which cuts across doctrine as when it applied to those often most basic issues directly affecting people, they see it as a logical strategy because fundamentally it is one that can win.

The student movement is characterised by protest occupations, whose goal rather than occupying space and using it as a political bargaining tool or as part of an attempt to spread and build a wider movement is to only occupy a few inches in the mornings tabloids, preferably with a photo loaded with radical posturing; just for the cameras of course.

This is different. While essentially tonight is a protest occupation; making it evident to the authorities how serious we see this situation a nd our willingness to engage in confrontations over it. The whole process has been one whereby extra hours in which to study have been reclaimed by students in a simple refusal to leave when the college decides its time to go.

Rather than being made up of the usual, recognisable enthuasists and idealists; these actions have been composed of a broader swathe of the UCD student body. These are the Science/engineering/vet/med type students who need extra library hours, those students who never before have taken a role in active dissent because usually the hours allocated for meetings and events by a movement dominated by arts students are hours in which they lock themselves in labs and compulsory lectures they have no chance of bunking for half the year.

The library staff have supported the occupation all the way, sitting back and watching it happen, leaving us to our own devices, letting us outside to the smoking area below the library and sneaking our friends in through the back door after Radiohead at the point. There is sometimes a tendency to simply seeing two aspects to the college community; academics and students. there is a third forgotten strata; cleaners, librarians, technicians and so on those that keep the college ticking over functionally; those for whom the college represents a workplace rather than a place of research or study. It is probably not surprising to see that it is from this strata that most support for the sit ins emerges. While some have vocally supported the sit ins in their lectures after lecture addresses from union activists; the academics are strongly fucking noticeable by their absence in these events. Good to see the academic Marxists, radical social theorists and all those others leave it at the lecture and office door. If academia ever represented a containment and isolation of dissent within texts then here you go.

Today saw a 3/4 full bus leave UCD for a USI National Demo in town. In one way this can be interpreted as a negative sign. I'd propose a different reading of events. Tonight saw a a mass of people engage in an effective form of action which has galvanised support across the college and left the college authorities scratching their heads in embarrassment. Some will say that there is a higher turn out because people are here for the experience, the buzz and to piss about in the library with their mates. So what if many are? They have still cut across the colleges authority in refusing to obey its dictates on opening and closing hours; and are willing to face disciplinary measures as a result of this. That this confidence has arisen because of the collective nature of the occupation, the collective confidence of those taking part should be of no surprise.

Maybe it doesn't suggest a disappointing downturn in student consciousness that so few turned out for USI today. Maybe students are just discerning about what forms of protest are most effective when two clear options are presented to them. The two options presented to UCD students today were simple. To march around town in what unfortunately has become an annual sham, where USI Leaders cheer lead from a platform and feign radical rhetoric as we whoop from behind the police pen, before they ask us all to piss off home our job is done now that the Star have a wonderful back ground for the mornings photographs. Where student leaders handcuff themselves to the railings of the Dáil and helpfully uncuff themselves after a few moments of choice poses for photographs.

That students are treated like consumers in vain attempts to sell them a product packaged to resemble something like dissent, with no role in its organisation, merely to consume it at the behest of some bloke noone recognises (apparently he's USI, well thats what the t-shirt says, innit? Fuck it i didnt vote for him...) is one aspect that probably has undermined participation in these events.

The other option was to partake in a protest where everybody played a part, in which everyone had the option of playing a role in its organisation and rather than being the witnesses to its futility, could see its fruits unfurl as they engaged in it. That is direct action and I for one are glad to see the choice they made. Meetings that have taken place with the president and incoming president has seen them vocally agree with us. Now the issue is to force their hands into finding the funding needed and rather than tailing the governments ideological agenda (as they did with fees) openly oppose it and side with the fight for an open public and free education system for all. As a temporary measure we should continue and normalise these sit-ins till midnight as a means of directly creating more studying hours while escalating protests elsewhere.

Hopefully we can see more of this shit around Irish campuses. Its called direct action, and it works.

author by Jonahpublication date Thu Dec 04, 2003 13:49Report this post to the editors

Excellent report and a good analysis. I hope the reason that the numbers going from UCD to the protest yesterday was down is the one you outline.

I am curious about that demo though. I understand there was a few thousand at it and a variety of politicians spoke at it but I heard a rumour, and I stress it's only a rumour and I'm just looking for confirmation, that when Joe Higgins spoke he started speaking about the Bin Charges to the crowd there was a good deal of booing, presumably because it was a student protest and not a Bin Charges thing.

Can anyone confirm this?

author by Anti Jonahpublication date Thu Dec 04, 2003 14:30Report this post to the editors

Joe was using the example of the bin tax campaign when making a point about the need for militant protest.

author by Cianpublication date Thu Dec 04, 2003 14:35Report this post to the editors

I was at the demo yesterday and in general Joe Higgins received a strong response from students when he echoed the points already made by Paul Dillon about fighting cutbacks in education alongside social welfare cutbacks etc.

There was a little bit of booing from the crowd when Joe went on about the Bin Charges and I would put that down to a vocal minority. He certainly recieved more support for what he said than heckles, but he was heckled nonetheless.

Well done on the library occupation. I think it is a very practical and successful way to fight cutbacks.

author by Elderly hack - ex-UCDpublication date Thu Dec 04, 2003 14:35Report this post to the editors

Nope - there was an overnight Library occupation in 1988/89. There was also the two day occuptation of the board room in Admin that year too.

author by Jonahpublication date Thu Dec 04, 2003 15:10Report this post to the editors

Just to clarify, I'm pro-Joe and anti-Charges. I heard a rumour and was looking for clarification, this does not mean I agree with the people booing.

author by neither left nor rightpublication date Thu Dec 04, 2003 16:29Report this post to the editors

hearing about ucd and other things in general its never good when a side/or group, say the left in ucd isn't allowed to take reasonable actions against things like fees because the student commitee is too full or right wingers and blocks all desicions but now that the the ucd students union is quite strongly left and had some great successes including upholding the coke boycott... they now have too much control and are allowed to use college money to fund there pet project of going to shannon just because they can .....


im in favour of blockading if shannon and the results of the vote in the coke referendums shows that a majority of the students favour a ban not just a forceful committee but im worried that they now have it too easy to get their own way......

author by pimbopublication date Thu Dec 04, 2003 17:29Report this post to the editors

"the academics are strongly fucking noticable by their absence in these events. Good to see the academic marxists, radical social theorists and all those others leave it at the lecture and office door."

Where was the so called 'revolutionary' Kieran Allen? Why has he not mobilsed staff or even attended himself? He just seems to be content with interpreting the world

author by Sean Qpublication date Thu Dec 04, 2003 17:34Report this post to the editors

Those who booed when Joe Higgins mentioned the bin tax protesters are nothing but scab right wing bastards. Probably PD/FF/FG/GP scabs. How do they think that fees and cuts in education will be defeated? By crappy USI photo opps? By Blue Shirt Priestly getting his mug on the TV? Or by activley linking up with others affected by cuts such as college workers and bin tax campaings in a struggle to end cuts and bring down the government.

These right wing bastards in the SU's and on the demos should be exposed and politically outed from the student movement.

author by Cianpublication date Thu Dec 04, 2003 18:02Report this post to the editors

I'm not disagreeing with the sentiment of the post above or anything, but really it was only a handful of regular students booing. No major student union or right wing conspiracy here. Just some random punters who had probably been brainwashed by the corporate media into thinking that the bin tax protestors were some sort of scroungers. It really wasn't a major part of the crowd.

author by Sister Disco - DMC (run)publication date Thu Dec 04, 2003 18:18Report this post to the editors

I wish i was there but had to sell myself to the man for s€lver shillings to pay the man his fees.

Any plans for some futura library occupations?

we should have some old time UCD heads out to talk about their experiences in dealing with the man(or woman in this case).

//
express yourself
create he space
you know you can win
dont give the chase
beat the man
take him on
nover give up
its one on one
//

author by Starstruck - UCD Leftpublication date Thu Dec 04, 2003 20:01Report this post to the editors

The USI organised protest yesterday may have been effective as regards numbers but it was a fucking farce as regards sending a clear message of defiance to the government.Having a "childline" like concert down a side street is not an effective merhod of direct action and the fuckers inside the chambers not only would piss their asses laughin but would hardly have even noticed.
Anopther token annual USI farce so u guys can sit back afterwards and let the rest of us slog it out as usual.
Power in numbers?
Yeah maybe but not when u invite Fine Gael blueshirts up to speak on an issue they would do nothing about and at a time when the votemongerers are thirsty.
Fuck yez!!!

author by ipsiphi iosaf - (I'm a fan of you D4 trouble makers.)publication date Thu Dec 04, 2003 23:11author address barcelona - €U as usual.Report this post to the editors

I'm a fan of UCD & most of the regular contributors commentators know that by now.
Though I was a trinity chap myself, and indeed have to take this opportunity to remind everyone that _all_ who took part in the occupation of Trinity Library 1988 were expelled. Expelled properly, not just "put off books" or, "took a sabatical" or, we don't know how but he/she turned up in the calender years later as a fellow but we've no idea what he/she looked like...

It is perhaps then a sign of the continuing changing nature of the Irish Education Establishment, and yawn yawn the Irish Establishment which it has been observed holds extensive links with it's primary education institutions, that _none_ of these little Belfilield "okupe"/"disobedients" are going to be expelled inconnection with any bibliomantic protest.

Ok the Prodigy song is terrible, give them a 3rd class degree for the prodigy, but oh Ireland/Eire you patria of my passport, remember this:

You are locking up the academics who teach your next generation of academia, and the poor children are okupe-ing the library.

= must be brain drain.

Related Link: http://www.libdex.com/data/21/10652.html
author by David Cpublication date Fri Dec 05, 2003 06:12Report this post to the editors

I know Iosaf isiphi was a West Brit prod snob, all the Dublin anarchists are. They're all Foxrock Brits who have nothing in common with the workers.

author by formerly west brit prod snobpublication date Fri Dec 05, 2003 15:48Report this post to the editors

these things we have in common and not forgetting of course the snotty nose.

author by antrophepublication date Fri Dec 05, 2003 16:49Report this post to the editors

..i forgot to mention that a similar study in took place in Earlsfort Terrace. I've just heard that the college authorities have conceded and are retoring opening hours in Ealrsfort to ten hours a day.

See, it does work...

author by Mr Disco - ucd SApublication date Sun Dec 07, 2003 20:33Report this post to the editors

Until they actually do something!

I forgot that the wewestern part of britian was devoid of all "working class". {isnt liverpool an west britian, and wales?}

I suspect David C has about as much in common with the working class as your median follower of the trotyskite tendancy.

Or am I wrong?

Maybe the "socialists" on the newswire (and some car driving class talking ucd comrades) should take a closer look at themselves before slagging off an anarchist squatter sitting in barcelona.

P.S. Iosaf is one of the only genuinely funny lads on the newswire. I always enjoy reading his analysis& anecdotes.

David C : Piss off to your "Ivory tower". spanner.

author by cormac phelan - polically minded students internationalpublication date Mon Dec 08, 2003 01:33Report this post to the editors

I, as a UCD student, was really impressed by the solidarity of my left-wing brotherhood. I applaud and congratulate all those who participated in the sleep-in last Wednesday...while my relationship with Thom York kept me from you; I was there in spirit. Go team socialism!!!

author by Bratislavapublication date Thu Dec 11, 2003 11:10Report this post to the editors

"The campus book shop boycott didn't really take off as a massive campaign, because there was a lack of student involvement, but whats new there in terms of UCD. Despite this, there was several days of pickets organised."

Good to see Antophe has become less cynical of the students in the past few weeks!

author by antrophepublication date Thu Dec 11, 2003 19:17Report this post to the editors

'Good to see Antophe has become less cynical of the students in the past few weeks!'

I was never cynical of students, but it is a fact to state that the boycott bookshop lacked a serious momentum because students simply didnt get invovled in it. I'm not sure what ever came from the meetings Oisin had with the book shop owner on the issue. If hes watching, maybe he could fill us in? None of that is a criticism; just fact and observation. Maybe the main reasons for lack of involvement was the monoploly the bookshop has on many core texts which leaves many with no option but to pass any picket there and buy there texts. Then again, like most university based endeavors; there is a need to recognise that the financial background of many students probably means they have little to gain from engaging in collective action on the basis of their own material interest; as that interest is covered by their parents bank account. The library meanwhile affected evryone regardless of this; perhaps one factor leading to particaipation. I guess the overall issue at hand is injecting and resurrecting the idea of solidarity into the student body as a tactic that can win, as in the case of the library sit ins...

author by leaving things that shine in the Magpies way.publication date Mon Dec 15, 2003 20:16Report this post to the editors

some photos and intermediate to advanced German.
They did a cool banner for free education:

alles nur eine semantische problem freie uni in Berlin?

Related Link: http://germany.indymedia.org/2003/12/70072.shtml
author by Jaypublication date Wed Jan 28, 2009 16:15Report this post to the editors

"There was an overnight Library occupation in 1988/89. There was also the two day occuptation of the board room in Admin that year too"

Could anyone with any more information on these events please email me at matchgrams@gmail.com.

Thanks.

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