Today, the 22nd of February, the provisional university sent an open letter to the Provost of Trinity College demanding a space for student-managed teaching and research and denouncing the neo-liberalisation of the university. This is the first step in our campaign to reclaim a space to fight for education as a right and to take back the university. The text of the letter follows.
We are writing to demand a student-managed educational and research space within the college. Our motivations are set out in what follows.
Both the State and those in control of the universities have abandoned any commitment to education as a right and to equality in education. There is a consensus between the political class and the university elite on the re-introduction of 3rd level fees (or other mechanisms to make us pay for university) and the subordination of research and teaching to economic objectives (i.e. the smart economy), as well as bureaucratic regulations which are often an end in themselves. These measures are justified with reference to the public deficit created by the same neo-liberal politics which are now proposed in order to save the university.
It is in this context that we perceive the necessity for students and teachers to resurrect the university as an egalitarian institution, and, as a first step, this requires a physical space to organize open and independent research and teaching, without fees, points or selling-out to the market.
As things stand student-led activities take place within the inflated and hyper-bureaucratic structure of the Central Societies Committee. This system treats student-organised activities as extra-curricular, i.e. separate from teaching and research. The CSC, as you will be aware, is run in a despotic manner. There is also no reason why students should have to apply for permission to organize activities on campus.
We are not a society nor do we want to be. We are a student managed teaching and research project. These are activities which are at the centre of the university and cannot be corralled within the society system and marginalized as ‘extra-curricular’ hobbies.
We are no longer willing to watch as the university gives away resources and spaces to neo-liberal projects which, under the cover of ‘partnership’ with the ‘business community’, have introduced the rationality of the market into the heart of the university. Projects like the ‘Innovation Alliance’ and ‘Innovation Academy’ are clear examples here: both are explicitly dedicated to the task of harnessing research to the mindless profiteering that characterizes our present economy. The university cannot be subordinated to the objectives of capitalism because capitalism is itself utterly irrational, unthinking and opposed to equality.
Given that those who control the university have, enthusiastically or reluctantly, committed themselves to the neo-liberalisation of the university, the time has come for students and teachers to intervene decisively.
For all these reasons we demand a physical space within the university wherein to develop a radically egalitarian educational project.
We look forward to commencing a dialogue and to achieving our demand.
As students we don’t attend the university, we are the university. It’s time to take it back.
Yours in anticipation,
The provisional university