university of the arts students protest establishment's injunction against them
As #OccupyUAL reaches its climax on the streets of London after a month’s sit-in at the Central Saint Martins reception, we ask UAL fashion photography student Lewis Rabjohns to report on Tuesdays events…
Had you been an onlooker of the wonderfully diverse looking mob that was marching from the Royal Courts of Justice on the morning of the 14th of April, it would have been easy to mistake it for a simple student march.
A surprise then, to be informed that this crowd of political upstarts were protesting not only cuts to 560 places on the Foundation courses across UAL but their university's decision to take fifteen of their own fee paying students to a court for trying to stop the cuts.
Since the 19th of March, 80 students had been living inside the Central St. Martins reception in peaceful protest against the large-scale cuts to the Foundation courses within UAL: A free course for home students under 19, one which requires no A-Level qualifications: Allowing any young person to prepare for a degree level education in the arts. In response to the almost month long habitation, aptly named #OccupyUAL, University of The Arts London management took an injunction out against fifteen of the student activists, seven of which were elected UAL Student Union representatives, one of which was Union President Shelly Asquith.
Neither the court nor UAL enforced any charges or fines, but the injunction stood and the occupation of CSM reception was ended on the 14th, the students being left with no other option but to vacate the building peacefully.
The protest demonstration that followed the court hearing took to the London streets, stopping at key buildings including the UAL campus at High Holborn, the National Union of Students building and through Kings Cross Station to end at Central St. Martins only causing moderate traffic delays, attracting plenty of public spectators and filled central London with a raucous range of chants and slogans:
"SHAME ON YOU, UAL!" and "TAKING YOUR OWN STUDENTS TO COURT: FUCK MANAGEMENT".
Needless to say, the disillusioned crowd of students had made their opinions clear on how UAL had treated their own students and made it blatantly obvious that though they had lost this round with the university management, they were nowhere near finished with their fight against a university that seems to care less about their students and more about their wallets.
Text and photography Lewis Rabjohns