The Free Hetherington sees a number of problems with the allegations, recently published in the Glasgow Guardian, that the occupation has ‘cost Glasgow University almost £10,000’ .
When the Hetherington was re-opened we found the lights on and the heating turned up full. These costs would have been paid whether or not we were in the building, and were being paid for a year by the University while they left the building empty.
However even this is small change in light of the £14m misspent on the Student Lifecycle Project by senior management, and it also represents only a few days of their wages. Costs to Strathclyde Police resulted when Secretary of Court David Newall authorised the poorly planned and violent eviction attempt on March 22nd, a major over-reaction to protest. The Free Hetherington also condemns these costs and waste of police time.
As noted on Newsnight Scotland on the 22nd March (video), as in many other national media outlets, we have constantly run social and educational events in what is now the longest-running University occupation in recent history. It has also attracted leading cultural figures to Glasgow University, such as Ken Loach, Makar Liz Lochhead, Jeremy Hardy and Mark Steel. Rather than celebrating this, management chose on their part to react with violence. Since the attempted eviction their actions have been condemned in unanimous motions by the lecturers union (UCU), the Scottish Trades Union Congress, and hundreds of members of staff in an open letter. Our support has increased markedly since these events.
With the promises made recently by all major political parties at Holyrood concerning University funding in the run-up to the election, and in light of the broken promises at Westminster, it is more important than ever that students and other members of the community demonstrate that they will hold those making cuts and destroying our services and society to account.
The day that we ban political protest because some claim it is too expensive is the day we can no longer call ourselves a democracy.