Following a meeting between a student delegation and the management at 4:30pm on Thursday 13 May, the student collective gathered to discuss the situation. These discussions were in process when we received the following email from Prof Margaret House at 8:19pm:
First of all I would like to thank you for what I hope was a useful and
constructive meeting for all of us this afternoon. We certainly felt
that the meeting helped us to move forward.
You mentioned that you would be meeting with your fellow students this
evening and that you would provide us with a response to our discussion
in the morning. I wonder if it would be possible to send us your
response this evening after your meeting.
I would be grateful if that was possible.
I should also add that I still have not received your email response to
my earlier email of today. I am told that the external email has been
down this afternoon and so I will also be sending this email via another
route in case there is still a problem.
Professor Margaret A House
Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic
To which the students responded as follows:
Dear Prof Margaret House,
Thank you for your email. We will not be able to get back to you tonight but we will send you our response tomorrow as agreed.
We responded in full at 11:39am on Friday 14 May with the following email:
Dear Professor House,
Thank you for meeting with us yesterday to discuss the future of the
philosophy programmes at Middlesex University. We have now discussed
the issues you presented to us. We welcome your offer to review your
decision to close recruitment for the postgraduate tracks. We also
welcome your change of position regarding the centre’s applications
for external funds.
In general, however, we feel that many of your recommendations remain
either unclear or unresponsive. Your offer to accept part-time MA
applications for Autumn 2010 is a step forward, but it is not a
particularly significant modification of your earlier position. We
would hope that you might reopen PhD recruitment immediately, rather
than wait to discuss this again next year. And we remain unconvinced
by your proposition of a self-standing research centre without any
kind of undergraduate track.
We await more concrete proposals regarding the future of philosophy at
Middlesex. In the meantime, we intend to continue expanding our
international networks of support and continue our campaign to save
philosophy at Middlesex.
While we were expecting further negotiations, we received the following notice, delivered by hand from a member of security:
To the Protesters occupying the
Trent Park Campus
14 May 2010
Our ref: FJ/ERG/M2291/00142
Unauthorised occupation of the Mansion Building at Trent Park Campus
We act for Middlesex University.
Your occupation of the Mansion Building consitutes an unauthorised trespass.
Our client has sought to deal with this matter amicably but in light of your failure to vacate the building despite our client’s requests, our client has no choice other than to take legal action to secure your removal.
Our client will apply to the High Court at the Royal Courts of Justice, London at the earliest opportunity for immediate injunctive relief unless all protestors in occupation of the Mansion Building vacate within one hour and return control of the building to our client.
The application will seek the grant of a court order requiring all unauthorised persons to vacate the building without delay and other associated relief.
Our client must reserve its position in every respect including the issue of the costs of this action.
Further to this, Prof Michael Driscoll, vice chancellor of Middlesex University, sent the following statement to Middlesex staff at 1:45pm:
Student Occupation of Mansion Building at Trent Park
I am writing to update you on the illegal student occupation of the Mansion Building at Trent Park.
You will be aware that the Mansion has been occupied, since Tuesday 4th May, following forced entry by a number of Middlesex Philosophy students and their supporters from outside the University.
Despite the occupation being condemned by Middlesex University Students’ Union, and following discussions between the University and representatives of those occupying the Mansion, the occupiers have refused to end their occupation.
The continuing occupation of the Mansion raises serious concerns surrounding health and safety, disruption to the working of the University and costs of security. For this reason the University instructed solicitors to advise the occupiers in writing that they must end the illegal occupation immediately or face legal action to end the occupation.
The students have not responded and have not vacated the premises. The university is now seeking an emergency injunction to end the occupation and recover the Mansion Building.
Colleagues who want to know more about the circumstances surrounding the illegal occupation can find further information on the University intranet site.
Students responded to Prof Driscoll at 2:46pm with the following statement:
Dear friends and colleagues,
You will have received an email from the vice chancellor that contains distortions and inaccuracies. We are writing to clarify that our occupation was not forced or violent in any way. As students of Middlesex university we do not consider our action to be trespassing. The occupation has been good natured and the staff who met with us on Wednesday can testify that there is no concern for health and safety. Having confirmed our clear intention to be respectful and peaceful in the meetings with the management, we believe the decision to employ additional security is entirely unwarranted. We have been trying hard to keep the channels of communication with the management open but they have refused to negotiate seriously about the future of philosophy at Middlesex University. Our presence here is not designed to disrupt the university but to defend education.
We invite all of Middlesex university staff and students to come and judge for themselves. We have organised a series of cultural and political events for tomorrow, saturday, including a talk by Tariq Ali. Please come and join us.