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Manifesto from student activists: Why we blockaded this university

Why was a blockade necessary? The current structure of the university is undemocratic, write student activists in this, their manifesto for 'A different university'

The re-scaling plans are, like all other reforms, being implemented over our heads. We will no longer accept this. By refusing to work, we are defending the university.

The government has clearly shown that they are not interested in dialogue, and the only way of resistance is sabotage. We protest; because we will no longer accept the way the government, now with the university director’s apparent acceptance, treats the university. If the government reduces the university to a factory, our only means of objection is to sabotage the machinery locally.

Through this blockade we make it clear that the current university policy will not be tolerated. We would like to engage in a real dialogue with the government on how the university should be organized.

The dissolution of the university has begun

If the re-scaling plans are passed, it means that the final dissolution of the university has practically commenced. When fluctuating employment rates and market interests are appointed to regulate the ways of the university, rather than freedom of critical thought and research, it is no longer a university.

To combat this trend, we must fully reject the prevailing discourse of economic necessity and unyieldingly uphold the university’s autonomy. The re-scaling plans and the complete external control of the university should be outright rejected. As 92 researchers and research students wrote in a recent joint statement:

“It used to be the finest endeavor of prominent businesses to support the development of a diverse knowledgeable society. The government speaks as if this has been reversed, and this we must not ignore. We have a shared responsibility to defend our universities as fundamental institutions of knowledge, research and education.”

The re-scaling proposal is still another fundamental attack on the university, and it will not be the last. If the patterns of thought behind the re-scaling plans are left unchallenged, it is just a matter of time before new budget-cuts are forced on us. The current policies have consequences for everyone on campus, and the attacks will continue until we stop them. Therefore, a real resistance is needed. Right now there is a conflict, but it is only one party, the government, taking part in it. The reform lays a dark future ahead of everyone at the universities: the blockade is instilled in solidarity with all students, teachers and administrative employees. We want to show, that we can say “NO” together. We do not claim that we represent neither the students nor the university as a whole; we represent an idea of the university as a place of free research, and thriving, and will do everything to keep this idea alive. This is an idea that is worth fighting for, as students, staff and society!

Right now we have absolutely no actual power, and therefore we have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.

Why a blockade

We blockade because we want to interrupt the daily operation of the department and the harmless criticism of the reforms. We disagree with the way the university is governed, and we refuse the government reforms. But we cannot block the government; we cannot stop the Parliamentary machinery.

Our whereabouts is the university campus. Here we lead our everyday lives, here we work. Blocking the ministry may be geographically closer to power, but it is currently impossible to stop its operation. We can do it here. To paralyze the university locally is to stop the machinery. We hope to see the protest spread to all other departments and faculties in the country.

How do we carry out the blockade

The blockade is total. No one will be admitted at any time, and we will on the site at all times of the day to reinforce it.

What do we want to achieve?

We want the blockade to make it clear that the prevailing university policy will not be tolerated. We would like to engage in a dialogue with the government on how the university should be organized.

Our demands are:
Pull back the cut-downs (withdraw the progress-reform and re-scaling plans)
Let knowledge and education be the aims of the University, not labour-market aptitude (business representatives out of the University Boards of Directors)

Who are we?

The blockade is summoned by a group of students assemblies under the name ‘a different university’. The group was formed immediately after the blockade of the Copenhagen University humanities-faculty in the winter of 2013 by students from several departments. Since then the group has grown and now consists of students from several faculties at both Copenhagen and Aarhus Universities. We do not claim to represent either the students or the university as a whole; we represent an idea of the university as a place of free research and thriving knowledge, and will do everything to keep this idea alive.

How can I show support?

If you would like to participate in the protest, send an email to etandetuniversitet@gmail.com (Copenhagen university), etandetuniversitetau@gmail.com (Aarhus University)

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