Goldsmith’s Senior Management Team threatens to evict anti-racist protestors

Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Action (GARA) received an eviction threat on 16 July from the Goldsmiths Senior Management Team (SMT) in response to their on-going occupation of Deptford Town Hall.  

Protestors recently celebrated 100 days in the occupation against institutionalised racism on campus and management’s inability to efficiently solve it. 

Anti-racist protest signs at Deptford Town Hall
Image credits to Goldsmith’s Anti-Racist Action group

SMT reached an agreement with GARA on 1 July that the students involved in the protest would not face any legal action. Despite this SMT are now threatening to put forward a court application to gain access of the Deptford Town Hall building. 

A college spokesperson told London Student: “We have gone as far as we can to meet the protesters’ demands, committing an additional £500,000 as part of a comprehensive plan which includes reviewing how reports of racism are handled, recruiting extra student wellbeing staff and providing race equality training for all our employees. Unfortunately, after four months of trying to find a way forward, the protesters are unwilling to negotiate on the remaining areas of disagreement. Unless they leave we will have no choice but to look at taking proportionate legal steps to end the protest so that the building can be returned to use for teaching.”

A college spokesperson told London Student: “We have gone as far as we can to meet the protesters’ demands, committing an additional £500,000 as part of a comprehensive plan which includes reviewing how reports of racism are handled, recruiting extra student wellbeing staff and providing race equality training for all our employees. Unfortunately, after four months of trying to find a way forward, the protesters are unwilling to negotiate on the remaining areas of disagreement. Unless they leave we will have no choice but to look at taking proportionate legal steps to end the protest so that the building can be returned to use for teaching.”

According to the spokesperson, the protestors have been preventing the use of eight teaching rooms situated in the Deptford Town Hall since mid-March. They have also blockaded a number of meeting rooms.

In their letter to GARA, the SMT said there is “pressing need to regain possession in order that we can prepare the building for the new academic year.” Further, the letter states that if the protestors have not evacuated by 8:00am on 22 July, SMT will seek a court order for possession of the building. 

This letter, however, came as a surprise to GARA. In previous meetings on 24 and 25 June with the SMT it was agreed that the management would provide a signed document to confirm all their commitments. It was agreed that additional meetings would be arranged. 

A GARA spokesperson told London Student, “We were promised that there would be no legal or disciplinary action taken against students for participating in the occupation yet this has been all of a sudden broken despite another final meeting being due.”

Defiant

In a public statement, GARA presented five demands that it requires the university to meet before it evacuates the Town Hall building. These demands include paid BME representative for each academic department and access to Deptford Town Hall building for the local community. 

GARA told London Student that Goldsmiths staff had not been very cooperative surrounding the issue of the protest. They said the Town Hall building had been put into lockdown only forty-eight hours into occupation. 

On the conduct of management toward the protestors, GARA added, “Over the [first weekend of the occupation] no food or water was allowed into the [Town Hall] building and supplies had to be hoisted up with ropes through a window. The fire exits were bolted shut and at some point, the university had guards manning [the protestors]. These security guards were authorized to use unprovoked force and many incidents of violence occurred against young students who were protesting peacefully. This included students being shoved into doorways and having their hands crushed by doors perpetuated by senior members of staff in estates and facilities.”

GARA plans to continue the occupation until all their demands have been met.


International Relations student at KCL

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