Category Archives: Lancaster University: Activism & Press Releases

Migrant Situation in Calais: A demonstration and the opening of a 12000m² squat

Translation of this article http://www.nordlittoral.fr/accueil/vandamme-un-nouveau-squat-de-12-000-m2-a-calais-pour-ia0b0n124204 to spread the word and call for support for the new squat aiding migrants in Calais

 

More than 450 people marched the streets of Calais yesterday (11th July 2014), for a demonstration in support of exiled migrants. This event also paved the way for a coup de force for the No Border movement who opened a new squat.

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There was a strong reaction after the last squat evacuation, on the 2 of July, which affected 610 migrants. In the Place d’Armes, at 2pm yesterday afternoon, many people assembled in support of migrants but equally to raise indignation towards the evacuations of the last months, described as “violent, useless and painful police operations” by Séverine Mayer from the collective Calais Ouverture et Humanité. The daily work of the volunteers was highlighted with “pain”, “the volunteers are tired but feel that they have to do the job”, recalls Séverine Mayer through a loudspeaker.

The Vice President of the Regional Council, from the European Green Party (Europe Ecology, EELV), Majdouline Sbai, spoke before the start of the procession, emphasising support to “the groups, the refugees, who suffer from this situation” and attacking “a policy placed in contradiction to European values”. Along with the local community, demonstrators made the trip from other French towns, such as Le Havre, Rennes and Lille, as well as members of other groups supporting migrants (including MRAP, the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples). Surrounded by police, and with declared aim, the procession evolved.

A Counter Demonstration

At the side-lines, the group Sauvons Calais (a local fascist group) who fight against the collectives who help migrants, held a counter demonstration near the theatre. Over the course of the procession, under the watchful eye of the law enforcement to stop complete outbreak, the handful of members were kept away.

A Call for Support

The event aimed to be a show that the demonstrators had had enough. It also created the opportunity for a great achievement for No Borders, who created a squat with open doors to refugees “who do not know where else to go”.
The procession was made from the town hall, the in front of the theatre before making their way towards the Channel. A handful of No Borders members led the demonstrators in the direction of the new squat, situated on the old Vadamme site, all under the watch of the police.

“They opened this squat to defend a fundamental right, the right to shelter. We support this initiative which we believe to be, under the current circumstances, the only way for these people to have a sheltered night’s sleep”, commented Nan Suel from Terre d’Errance Norrent Fonte, another migrant protection group, one among many who support the squat. “A call for support will be launched” said Nan Suel. Cécile Bossy, from Médecins du monde (Doctors of the World), said that the group “supports giving people a home. This squat, like the others, goes to the people”. However, nothing will halt the attempts at another eviction, even if the occupants hold it for more than 48 hours.

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Ethical Investment Policy Open Meeting Minutes 20/02/14

 

Hey all,

There was a meeting last week on Lancaster Universities investment portfolio, specifically its arm long list of tax dodgers, arms dealers, climate polluters, human rights abusers and other such delightful captains of industry, and what the hell members of the university community can do about being financially connected to these deeply unpleasant entities. Turns out you can do quite a lot. The meeting was well attended and included people from a wide variety of different groups. Below are the minutes from this meeting including the demands of the campaign and some initial ideas for campaigning. Please spread this far and wide! Also, massive kudos to the organisers of the meeting, who did an amazing job getting so many people together and pushing the campaign forward in spite of being involved in so many other things at the same time.   WT

 

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Ethical Investment Policy Open Meeting Minutes

 

Thursday 20th February 2014, 6pm

Management School LT 3

In attendance:

  26 people students (full list of names on the original minutes)

 

Discussed

  • Emily Winter and Laura Clayson briefly explained how Edinburgh University successfully introduced an investment policy at their university, and described how they had achieved this
  • They also described the current investments that Lancaster University have that may be considered unethical

ORIGINAL Proposed Demands

  1. Commitment to divestment from fossil fuels and the arms trade
  2. Elected student representative on the investment committee
  3. Creation of a committee where investments can be scrutinised
  4. 25% of funds in an ethical fund manager
  5. Positive investment in renewables; energy efficiency; university’s own activities like mental health services

 

Questions and Queries

  • Who decides the investments that the university will make? Criteria?
    • Response: There will be an investment committee and some will have to be decided on a case to case basis
    • By divesting from the arms trade, will this be unfair to students as companies like BAE may be a future career choice?
      • Response: Students can choose whether they want to attend arms trade stalls at careers fairs, or apply for jobs within that sector. Students do not get to choose where the fees that they pay towards the university are invested; they do not make an active choice to invest in BAE.
      • Will this divestment affect placements rooted in certain companies?
        • Response: Again, the choice is not removed from the students, it is about the ethical choice of all students and where the money that they pay the university should be invested.
        • Rio Tinto mining group (which Lancaster University invests in) accused of human rights violations. As they are not included in current demands, where would the line be drawn?
          • Response: An initial plan of action is needed before other investments can be looked into, as a secondary response as part of the investment committee.
          • Is there scope to divest from tobacco companies, as we are one of the only, if not the only, university that currently invests in this?
            • Response: In the longer run, but fossil fuels and the arms trade are the priorities, as they take up a much larger percentage of current university investment
            • What if some students smoke or support an industry that we want to divest from?
              • Response: Divesting from arms trade companies does not mean that students cannot apply for jobs with them, in the same way that divesting from fossil fuels does not mean that all students and staff must stop driving cars. The tobacco company that we are currently invested in was also found guilty of tobacco farmer abuse and forced child labour.

 

Proposed Amendments to Demands

  • 1. Divestment from fossil fuels and the arms trade
    • Short term vs long term demands – primary demands to divest from fossil fuels and the arms trade, with secondary demands to further look into other unethical companies.
    • Is it better to hold at least one share in ‘unethical’ companies, so we can attend shareholders meetings and effect change?
    • Word the policy correctly to show that our policy is progressive and sustainable
  • 2. Student representative on the Investment Committee
    • Elected member of the student body; existing or new position Cross Campus Officer
  • 3. A student scrutiny committee for the university investments
    • Different members to focus on different ethical issues e.g. Human rights; animal testing; the environment
    • Focus on details; can decide if unethical on a case by case basis – the company could be either unethical by being part of an unethical industry, or by having unethical practices
  • 4. and 5. to combine
    • Positive investment in ethical investments with our current fund managers

Problems Arising

  • Timescale – How long will it take to divest from these companies? Is it worth setting a deadline for divestment and the fulfilling of demands
  • How to publicise our aims and gain support from the student body
    • SCAN; Petition (online and in Alex Square); Flashmob

Action Points

  • Article with link to an online petition
  • Week 10 Alexandra Square Petition (During Go Green Week)
  • Letter to Heads of Department

 

NEW PROPOSED DEMANDS

  1. Commitment to divestment from fossil fuels and the arms trade 
  2. Elected Cross-Campus Officer on the investment committee 
  3. Creation of a committee where investments can be scrutinised, and for these investments to be made public/transparent so that these decisions can be made from an informed perspective
  4.  At least 25% of investments in renewables; energy efficiency; and the university’s own activities like mental health services

PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: BANNER DROP AT LANCASTER UNIVERSITY

PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

BANNER DROP AT LANCASTER UNIVERSITY

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Today on the 20th February 2014, we dropped a banner off of University House for the cause of free public and dignified education. Gaining access to the roof was easy, we were surprised and delighted at how simple liberation was.

We took this action because we refuse to stand by and watch our education be further eroded and destroyed. Already the British education system is one of the most expensive in the world. We graduate with the weight of at least £27000 worth of debt around our necks and yet with the selling off of our loans these debts are being further privatized, calling into question how much we will eventually have to repay. #handsoffourloans

This assault on education broadens even further with the attack on our lecturers pay, which has been rapidly declining and leaving them ever more precarious and casualised. A 1% pay increase is an insult when it is far outstripped by inflation. We stand in solidarity with our lecturers in their fight for fair pay. #FairPayinHE

An ocean of ink would be insufficient to illustrate the extent of the attacks against us. We are no longer students, pure seekers of knowledge, we are now merely consumers of “the student experience.” So many open wallets and stock options in the hands of the banksters, we have no choice but to rebel.

“Let’s get wasted!” The cry of a generation. Fucked, smashed, destroyed. We anesthetize ourselves to our material conditions as we shepherd our emptiness from space to space. Those of us who took action today do not desire to be wasted, we do not want to be playthings dumped on the junk-heap of late capitalism , or made the flotsam and jetsam of the new lost generation. We desire truth, an actual meaningfulness to our being. Through the adrenaline in our body and the self evident truth that courses through our minds, we reclaim the future.

We take this action in solidarity with all political prisoners, seekers of truth and rebels.

Yours sincerely,

Feral Youth