The Occupy Goldsmiths movement offered a response today to a comment made by Goldsmiths Registrar and Secretary, Liz Bromley, in Goldsmiths’ student newspaper The Leopard.
Bromley was quoted in an article discussing Goldsmiths’ alleged financial deficit, and that if Goldsmiths were to expand, new academic sites would need to be built on campus.
“We’re not running an even balance sheet, we’re going into deficit quite quickly,” said Bromley, adding that the University was in deficit, and needed to find £2 million to cover the cost of rising national insurance and pension costs.
Protesters occupied Deptford Town Hall, a building owned and managed by Goldsmiths, and released a list of demands at 10pm last night, as well as sharing them on social media.
In an update on the movement’s Facebook page, the protesters gave a response to the comments made by Bromley.
“The £2 million deficit represents almost the cost of the Richard Hoggart Building refurbishments, and one year of the Warden’s recently increased salary – which could represent a far bigger saving than the cuts to tier one of DSA (Disabled Students Allowance),” an Occupy Goldsmiths statement read.
Goldsmiths is being put under pressure by the demonstrators to resist recent changes to the Disabled Students Allowance.
The changes would alter the definition of a disability, potentially causing 60 per cent of students with disabilities to lose their eligibility for support.
Liz Hutchinson, Head of Communications at Goldsmiths, added: “The Disabled Students Grant is a national scheme with terms set out by government.
“We do not decide what level it is or who it goes to. However, we are part of a number of national bodies lobbying government on the proposed changes.”
Music students have exams in Deptford Town Hall today, and there were worries they would be disrupted by the occupation, despite the protesters wishing the students good luck.
“We are pleased that the students occupying the building have worked with us to allow music exams to go ahead as planned,” said a Goldsmiths spokesperson.
Students have since spoken out in support for the demonstration.
Eva Crossan Jory, 20, who is not involved in the protests, said: “I’m glad someone has finally made a stand about the ridiculous privatisation and desire for profit our education system is now apparently based around.
“I think it’s wrong that education is not free, that despite us paying double fees our tutors don’t get paid any more.”
The occupation of Deptford Town Hall continues into its second day, where protesters are decorating the site with banners, and organising a festival in solidarity with other occupation movements across other London universities, to be held tomorrow.