Dear Professor Webley,
As you may already be aware, we intend to peacefully resist the injunction granted in the High Court yesterday. We do so because of the severity of the threat to higher education and because we feel that your resort to court proceedings was unreasonable and premature.
In your statement to staff on Thursday 25th November you suggested that those involved in the occupation have not been willing to negotiate with SOAS management through the student union. This is simply not true. We have said openly and repeatedly that our purpose in going into occupation was to negotiate a way that management could demonstrate support for our campaign against government plans to cut higher education funding and raise tuition fees.
Furthermore, since the start of the occupation we have had an informal channel of communication with you via the Student Union sabbatical officers. However, due to the informal and unofficial nature of these communications, they have lacked clarity and, in our opinion, often been inconsistent.
We intended for our demands to provide a starting point for negotiation. However, we do not believe that you could honestly expect us to abandon our central objectives. In short, we need to negotiate. It is because of this that we feel that it is appropriate to approach you directly. In doing so, we recognise that you will find some of our demands easier to meet than others. Indeed, that is implied in our request to negotiate.
In our discussions with the sabbatical officers, we have made clear our willingness to compromise. There are, of course, some bottom lines.
We think it would be helpful to make explicit what we think would be required for demand four to be met. Our request is that the following five points are incorporated in an open letter that students, staff and management can promote through a variety of channels. The points reflect our opinion of what was lacking from your otherwise welcome statement as sent to all students on Thursday 18th November.
– That the University management opposes all tuition fee increases
– That the University management opposes all cuts to Higher Education, not just those affecting SOAS
– That the University management opposes all cuts to EMA
– That the above is expressed in a statement that is made public and addressed to the government
– That you lobby other university vice-chancellors and principals to sign up to said statement
There would obviously need to be some way of verifying that these requests are granted before we will be satisfied that an agreement has been reached.
We believe that our requests reflect the opinion of the majority of students, lecturers and other staff at SOAS and have made this letter available to them.
We look forward to your reply.
SOAS student occupiers