How is the occupation going?
Occupation is going well. We’ve since the start refused to show IDs, give our names or otherwise reveal our identity so for instance whenever any of us have had to pass the barriers to enter the rest of the building we’ve only been using Sahaya’s (campaigns officer at Arts SU) staff card. An arbitrary rule they’ve imposed where only the “original 14” people who took the space on Tuesday evening can occupy the office, compromising our right to free speech and protest (we’re working on changing that). In part due to the “original 14” rule we have around half a dozen or so people at any given point.
The university stepped up security on Friday by starting to do ID and bag searches outside the building (so before the barriers within LCC) however we still managed to sneak more people into the building to occupy the foyer staying overnight however since they weren’t part of the “original 14” they weren’t even allowed access to the toilet. The university is now threatening disciplinary action against Sahaya as the Student Union officer who they know let the new people in through the fire exit, this is very lightly an empty threat but proves they’re upping the intimidation tactics.
How do you see the practical role of the occupation in the ongoing battle at the Elephant?
In a meeting on 25th January between University of Arts London and Arts Students’ Union, Management confirmed that the new LCC campus is the lynch pin in the development allowing Delancey to exploit the social housing loophole. UAL has a reputation to maintain and by exposing management as complicit in social cleansing we hope that UAL realises the gravity of the situation and how many people are willing to fight to maintain the community that has been built around Elephant & Castle.
What has been LCC’s response to the occupation and what kind of dialogue would you like with LCC?
We’ve sent LCC our demands which are:
We demand UAL release a statement on its website by the end of today (Jan 28th) which states that UAL:
commits to only accepting a plan that provides for majority social housing, in not just elephant and castle but any future development plan it’s a part of.
should use its role in any development plan to ensure genuine transparency, accountability and involvement of the community that lives and works where the development is going to take place.
We believe LCC’s response which arrived late on Friday to be totally unsatisfactory. They detailed that ‘the University has been meeting with local councilors and working with Delancey to seek a solution to the concerns about the development they have raised including at the planning hearing and that process is ongoing.” Another aspect of our dialogue is that LCC have tried to pass on responsibility for the decision making process to Southwark Council, saying they ‘expect Southwark Council to ensure adequate levels of social housing…. and we cannot… stipulate how and where the Council will deliver this provision“.
What are practical ways can people support the occupation? Has it been possible for outside support to come?
People can like and share our posts on Facebook facebook.com/StopTheElephantDevelopment, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/OccupyElephant and instagram.com/stoptheelephantdevelopment members of the community and students and staff at UAL can fill out our survey here: goo.gl/forms/29M8IqSSwkPgj0qF2.
As we’ve covered we’re having difficulties getting people into the actual occupation, but if we can get more people join us in the sit-in in the foyer outside the office, we always need more numbers.
We’re also having a campaign meeting and banner making session tomorrow Monday 29th Jan at 6pm at LCC, facebook event here: www.facebook.com/events/277895256073648/ .
What’s the occupation’s message for the Tues 30th Carnival?
We’re obviously doing what we can to mobilise students and have had extensive discussions about what we do on the 30th do we leave to join the protest and if so how?
We’re going to do everything we can to use the Monday and Tuesday to really engage UAL students, build lasting connections which we’ll hopefully be able to turn into a sustainable activist base and on talks, education and placard and banner making for the 30th.
They also did some great mainstream media stories: