An open letter to students nationwide

At 8pm on Wednesday 14 September we began a teach-in with about 100 people in the University of Auckland basemen by watching video of students at Victoria University of Wellington breaking through security to deliver a letter to their Vice Chancellor.

When security came to shut down our teach-in having watched that video played a big part in inspiring us to put up barricades and stay.

About 60 of us stayed behind barricades for a few hours and 2 people were arrested for standing outside in support and refusing to leave their own university. Both were freed without charges at about midnight after we had marched to the police station chanting in solidarity.

When the police eventually got inside we gave them a list of demands which we had just written and we decided to leave together, but only because we would come back stronger and with more people. When we left one person was picked out and arrested and has been charged for allegedly damaging a window.

On Thursday at a Students for Justice in Palestine reenactment of an Israeli Occupation Force checkpoint, part of 'Human Rights' week at the University of Auckland, students were hassled by security and police and two people were trespassed for two years.

On Friday we had a meeting of about 50 people to decide how we would proceed and this is what we decided:

  • In solidarity with Wellington we would call ourselves 'We are the University'.
  • With the 'Voluntary Student Membership' bill set to be passed on Wednesday 28 September, we are calling for a second Nationwide Day of Student Action on Monday 26 September.
  • Under the banner 'We are the University' we have three demands: 1. Stop attacks on students/stop VSM; 2. Stop attacks on staff/democratise the university 3. Fully fund education/cancel the debt and make student allowances universal.
  • We are calling for the support of the Tertiary Education Union.
  • Despite intimidation from the university and police we have all come out of the last few days very excited and without fear. Many people have commented that the few hours we spent behind barricades in the library basement were the first few hours we've really been proud to be students.
  • We would like to call for you to join us on Monday 26 September in a second day of action.
The university is already fucked, we know that much. VSM is the biggest attack on student power in recent history. If it goes through on the 28th, then, combined with attacks on the power of the TEU and academic staff, we will really see what the capitalist university looks like.

In solidarity,
Guy Cohn


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