Introduction. Why construct an archive?

In the course of the last year many at Sussex had a taste of the wave of austerity that’s now washing indifferently across Europe. The threat of lost livelihoods, suffering colleagues, suppressed and transformed disciplines and all the rest bit here early, and roused up its share of fear and anger. At the same time, though, the abrupt and lordly manner with which the management conducted themselves initiated – somehow – an open battle, in which people were increasingly happy to choose sides, and speak directly. (It’s documented in a pamphlet published then, a worthy starting-point for enquiry.)

We will not forget the multiplication and deepening of that opening speech and the kind light it cast on our lives. One relic of that light, of that clearing which opened in the springtime, is left to us: a declaration of love to the occupiers of Arts A2 from an anonymous member of staff. But each who was there could testify if they wanted: in those days we worked endlessly and happily and found intimacy round every corner, not only amongst the usual malcontents. For a few days before Easter it seemed like management could at any point have lost control as a human community emerged.

So it seemed from time to time. In fact, only a small minority – perhaps at most a twelfth – of the 15000 students at the university had any active role at all in the events; and staff were always, astonishingly, split not only along the line active/inactive but also along the line sympathetic to/opposed to the cuts process.

That the movement failed bodes ill, perhaps. But we learnt much in those months about how to convince without haranguing, how to seek allies without coercion, how to refuse isolation and impotence.

Many of us knew we were fighting at the cutting edge of the austerity which would follow the recession. We wanted to give a fine example. From here on it won’t only be at Sussex that rage and sadness are confronted by managers, police and other manipulators, nor only in the universities. It’s true that ‘the true image of the past flashes by’; these documents may offer the raw material for friends and comrades to see in a flash what happened around us here, and draw succour from it as we will from them.

May the trembling of the coming period find recompense and more in such flashes.

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Aftermath. Summer term.

In the summer term nothing moved – as is traditional. A claimed ‘victory’ for the A2 occupation (on the reinstatement of the six suspended students) concealed an underlying failure to have a substantial material impact on redundancy numbers. Which is not to say that nothing of value happened in those weeks.

Despite a few more UCU strikes little changed on the roster of lost jobs.

Apart from strike-support activities (manning picket lines, providing lunch) the main activity in this period was retrenchment. The main campaign group organised a ‘teach-in’; the what-is-education working group arranged, haphazardly, a series of reflective public meetings for staff and students. Not poorly attended – but anyone could see that the pressure was off. In the end – although the tally isn’t yet clear – it seems an enormous number of colleagues lost their jobs (taking ‘voluntary’ redundancy instead of being forced out) and more cuts are due next year, not least in the under-discussed service sector. We’ll see, no doubt.

Post-lapsarian STC events
What-is-education meeting 1

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A2 occupation.

The following is profusely described in the excellentReport on the Anti-cuts campaign’ referred to above – so with regard to this dense and prolific period the documents alone can speak.

Arendt lecture

M11 (first day); M12 teach-in programme

Programmes for the 15th, 16th, and 17th of March.

Library ‘rebranding.’

Life Sciences counter-recruitment

Declaration Of Love. Open letter to the occupiers from a faculty member.

Unheeded and barely circulated call for a general assembly (decorated by a bored one in A2.)

logo scan

Today is a strike day (18th March.)


Strike day photos.

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March 2010: Occupation, police intervention, mass outrage.

Launching off the back of a Carnival ‘Against Cuts’, and anticipating UCU industrial action which was scheduled to start within weeks, the catastrophically short March 3rd occupation of Sussex House – the historically frequentlyoccupied administrative centre of the university- was a crucial turning-point in the campaign’s fortunes.

In short, the occupation was suppressed within hours by Sussex Police in collusion with John Duffy, who had locked himself in his office and refused to leave, claiming to police to be ‘held hostage’. The police commander on site chose to believe this claim and demanded that the occupation be unwound so that his officers could escort Duffy out of the building. Meanwhile outside a large crowd was gathering in support of the occupiers, and scuffles began to break out with the police line deployed there. Meanwhile inside John Duffy was giving perjurious witness to the university’s lawyers in London as part of an application for an injunction against occupations on University ground.

The story is told tremendously successfully in the Statement on the events of March 3rd, issued by students with an accompanying appendix of witness statements.


Video of police intervention.

The suspension of six students, coupled with the unprecedented police intervention on campus, led to an enormous (700-person?) demonstration on March 11th, at which faculty spoke along with students, before an abortive re-occupation of Bramber house flooded instead into A2, opening the most optimistic and lovely few weeks of that year.

11th March demo flyer.

CLARIFICATIONS, pamphlet issued on the March 11th demo.

STC Newsletter (March 11)

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February 2010: Occupation of Bramber house.

The tempo increased a little after christmas, with a short (‘flash’) occupation of Bramber house in February which lasted several days.

Occupation communique and overview of solidarity messages.

Communiques 1 and 2 on the defendsussex blog.

Video of the bramber house occupation.

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The Socialist Worker’s Party

Naturally the SWP were active throughout the entire period, operating as a main organisational and ideological backbone for the student campaign group, and doing a lot of the legwork they’re famous for on their stalls they’re infamous for. God, presumably, or history, or their erstwhile comrades will judge the impact of their interventions here and elsewhere.

They circulated all sorts of material, national and local; it was presented to be archived – along with other documents, archived elsewhere on this site – with the following covering letter. Their influence will also be detected by the connoisseur across the year’s publications.

Another Education is Possible national conference

Love Music Hate Racism gig

Marx and Ecology meeting, Brighton.

Assorted Sussex-specific flyers.

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2009: pre-occupation, ressentiment, first little efforts.

In the period between the announcement of the cuts towards the beginning of the academic year in 2009 and Christmas, parts of the university community tried to work out a response. A student anti-cuts group was formed, and agitated for demonstrations – some of which numbered in the hundreds – while UCU also began to manoeuvre and a number of threatened schools also developed their own campaigns.

Assorted flyers from this period

Flyer by the History school campaign

Minutes from the first STC meeting. September(?) 09.

‘A Call for practical unity against the promised cuts.’

‘Proposals,’ distributed before a UCU-called mass meeting at the end of the winter term.

‘OCTOPUS’; tract distributed at the UCU meeting.

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