We believe that the current proposed cuts to university funding threaten the existence of arts and humanities education in England and Wales. It is for this reason that we have made the decision to occupy the Slade School of Art building. We demand that the government provide the same protection for arts and humanities in universities as is provided for the sciences. We vehemently oppose the transformation of the university system into market based model; education should be a public debate, not a private economy.
Therefore we the students of the Slade are offering a space for the assembly of all art colleges in England in order to organise non-violent direct action against what we view as an attack by the government on the arts. This is not a virtual exchange, this is a physical assembly. We are demonstrating the value of physical space for art education through the continuation of our day-to-day activity, as well as by inviting other colleges to participate in open events, lectures and workshops. Our occupation is not designed to be disruptive, nor will it engender any damage to the building. Rather, we want to highlight the value of intellectual and cultural exchange within art courses. This is not a boycott, it is an act of support.
As well as fully supporting the demands of the existing UCL occupation of the Jeremy Bentham Room, the staff and students of the Slade School of Fine Art demand the following from UCL:
- A statement from the UCL provost condemning the cuts to arts and humanities courses and stating the intrinsic value of these courses within higher education.
- A statement from the UCL provost guaranteeing the protection of the Slade’s courses as they are. This means preserving the current staff to student ratio, protecting facilities and space and continuing funding for visiting lecturers.
- A statement from the UCL provost guaranteeing the survival and continued funding of all other humanities courses within UCL.
- Free access in and out of the building 24 hours for all students, peers and speakers for the duration of the occupation.
- Ensure no victimisation or repercussions for anyone participating in the occupation.