This is an article I originally wrote for The River Online, that due to several circumstances was unable to be published on the site in a relevant amount of time. I have just decided I like it, and do want it up, so will just put it on here anyway. Hope it reads OK.
On closer inspection, the reported occupation of JG 10007 turned out to be your common or garden secret meeting of the EAN, discussing the subversive topic of a petition against student fees.
It was obvious from the outset there was no imminent threat of activism in the building, as KUSU President TJ Esubiyu was present, deftly sliding away from any questions thrown his way. When pressed about emailing all students with a link to the petition, TJ expressed full support, but admitted it would take “4 or 5 days” for it to reach everyone.
Along with the majority of Kingston students, TJ had no prior knowledge of the furtive meeting that had been called. By contrast, the majority of the students present were unaware that their so-called ‘occupation’ was anything other than a meeting in an unused room.
The possibility of future occupations was discussed, with plans to draw up a list of demands based on those currently requested at UCL. Hopes were aired that the university would support Education Activism by opposing all fee rises and refusing to budget for the fothcoming cuts in eductaion spending.
‘Bust sheets’ were also handed around, with important advice such as “have a buddy who looks out for you and knows who they should and shouldn’t tell if you get arrested (e.g. please tell my girlfriend, please don’t tell my mum).”
Other ideas aired included a Christmas present for Ed Davey. Side splitting suggestions included a “diploma in broken-promises” with the note “sorry, it’s all we could afford.”
We at River Online are not sure if we should publish such confidential information, but a strongly worded letter was also discussed, condemning the suspension of schoolchildren participating in student demonstrations.
Many felt uncomfortable with the idea of their cause being published by the press, obviously concerned that their petition may gain too much publicity. “We need privacy” one announced. Another pointed out “we’ve already got 10 cops waiting outside, we don’t want to say anything they might misconstrue at a later date,” adding “not that we will.”
In fact so imminent was the threat of police brutality, members were asked to avoid swiping into the room, in case ‘they’ collected data of who was present at any given moment. Quite who they were no-one seems to know, but they were out there.
All this secrecy may be a result of the arrest last week of one of the EAN activists on a public order offence. TJ very politely refused a request for the Students’ Union to cover the ensuing fine.
The meeting seemed to end peacefully, with everyone leaving together and in good order. Perhaps the mooted occupation was better left to another day, and another building. Maybe even at a time and a place where people might take notice.