My name is Hannah and I’m a languages student at Glasgow University. I’ve been involved with the Hetherington Occupation since its first week after getting into anti-cuts activity before Christmas. When I took part in a one night occupation of the Gilmorehill theatre in December, I was so amazed by the passion and dedication of the people involved in the campaign and I knew it was a fight I needed to join. Marching into the city centre with people I’d only known a day, and feeling that we were all working towards something really important, I became convinced that this was a fight we could win. So when the Hetherington building, which had sat empty and unloved for a year, was reopened by some of the same amazing people in February, I had to be involved. Being a part of this campaign, and of that space, has been a huge part of my life during this last semester and in it I have found so many incredible people who are committed to fighting for education and community. I’ve made literally dozens of new friends, but more importantly I’ve learned a lot and had my eyes opened to the fact that when we work together from the ground up, we can genuinely make a difference on a big scale.
I’m a modern languages student at this university, and through the years I’ve been studying here I’ve been so impressed by the staff and students of the whole SMLC. I feel passionately that modern language learning is a vital part of education and that it would be a tragedy to lose something as important and unusual as the Slavonic Studies department. This is in a faculty that works so hard for its students and provides a vital avenue for the learning of languages like Polish, Russian and Czech. Any “strategic vision” for our university should recognise the importance of providing a broad range of options for language students, and certainly shouldn’t be making cuts to the teaching of languages which are, more and more, spoken by communities in Glasgow. We’ve been fighting to show Anton Muscatelli that education shouldn’t be a means to making money, or have its value measured by how much any particular degree subject will add to your salary. Education is important for its own sake. We need to value everyone’s education, and defend everyone’s education. My time at university has been amazing, but not because I see it adding zeros to my future paychecks – it’s been amazing because it has opened my mind to so many new things, encouraged me to think critically, and because I’ve discovered areas of interest that I never would have expected. That’s the kind of education we need to be protecting, and not letting an economist tear it apart.
We’ve already seen how much of a difference we can make. Thanks to the engagement of students, staff and members of the local community, we’ve put enough pressure on Muscatelli and management to make them go back on many of the cuts they proposed earlier in the year. Thank you all for coming out today (in the rain) and supporting the campaign. We are fighting for something so important, and we know we can win.