The rise and fall of the Students’ Union – with Richard Kirkwood

This afternoon, a former lecturer, Richard Kirkwood came in to share his experiences of the Students’ Union between 1971 and 1995 at the Polytechnic of North London (PNL) that later became the University of North London, which then merged with the Guildhall to become London Met.

He explained to us that the constitution of the PNL SU used to be extremeley democratic and that the SU, in the 1970’s was a textbook version student radicalism. By his memory – they had 40 occupations in 25 years! Apparently lots of people went to PNL after 1968 and many of them then went on to become lecturers there too. In addition, there was a high level of student and staff representation on the board of governors.

Richard totally supports our occupation and was glad to see us taking action, because there hasn’t been a high profile occupation here since 1995, when the Management eventually shut down the SU, to punish students for having a voice and using it. When the SU was finally shut down, democracy died too. It’s becoming more and more evident now that students at LMU don’t only have to fight the national cuts, the local cuts at LMU (such as closure of LDU) but also to fight for democracy as well as an active and functionally autonomous Union. We’ve included autonomy in our demands but it’s also up to the wider student body to fight for an SU that acts in the interests of students, understands what phrase really means and does it.

Richard’s lecutre was the best history lesson I’ve ever been to – and the space we’ve established here, to provide free, open, alternative education, is exactly what we’re fighting FOR. Apart from the cuts in education, we’re also demonstrating that there are alternative systems of education that we can implement. This is what our first lecture was about too – the self-education and sharing of knowledge of the Universite Populaire in Paris in 1968 – where workers taught students and developed a new idea about education – what it’s for, who it serves, why we want to be educated.

What do YOU think education is for? What kind of society do you want to be part of in the future? The first lecture we hosted was about the student movements in 1968 and about the free education created by the Universite Populaire in Paris.

A movement fighting against elitism in education - exactly what we're fighting for now!

Come and discuss these topics and loads of more important issues and concerns you might have – at the occupation.
We have created a safe space, free from prejudice of all kinds, where we can discuss and create an alternative future.

It’s happening right here, right now – so get involved. We want to know what you think!

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About wearelondonmet

We Are London Met - The blog of the student activists occupying London Metropolitan University
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4 Responses to The rise and fall of the Students’ Union – with Richard Kirkwood

  1. px says:

    For your information, visit the blog below and see what students have organised for this weekend at Goldsmith College:
    http://www.artsagainstcuts.wordpress.com

  2. Rishi says:

    Ahhhhh mannnn, I wish I was there. I’m stuck in India till the end of Dec. Keep it occupied till then so I can join y’all.

    I’ve been an active member of the SU at London Met for the last few years and I have always been trying to work out the history of our past. It would be ace to have Richard K back again.

    In peaceful solidarity (from India)

    🙂

    (edited for formatting errors, JB 6/12/10)

  3. Rishi says:

    Ahhhhh mannnn, I wish I was there. I’m stuck in India till the end of Dec. Keep it occupied till then so I can join y’all.

    I’ve been an active member of the SU at London Met for the last few years and I have always been trying to work out the history of our past. It would be ace to have Richard K back again.

    In peaceful solidarity (from India)

    🙂

  4. Andrew says:

    Hi solidarity greeting: two things thanks for fighting for my children’s future education. It nice to see London met in occupation again. In 1991 I was part of an occupation of City of London Polytechnic which became London Guildhall University then London Met. We occupied for 2 weeks, PNL was also in occupation at that time and we had a joint demo outside the court before they attempted to evict us both. I still have a Video of our occupation which includes footage of the PNL going to court.

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