24th November 2010.  Since the day of the Demolition, an appeal has been circulating on Facebook and certain websites for a ‘National walkout and day of protest against tuition fees’.  Planned walkouts against the fees took place across the country at Universities and colleges, alongside a large-scale protest in London.  The London march, from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square, was initially meant as a ‘non-violent’ protest. This was mostly the case although various scuffles took place between police and a small group of aggressive protesters. Two police officers were injured and a police van was attacked by a group that took part in a riot, with the result that many peaceful protesters were kept in a police cordon for hours.

At the University of Nottingham, however, the reaction was rather more muted.  About sixty protesters gathered outside of the Portland Building and marched on the Trent Building, where the organisers demanded to speak to the Vice-Chancellor.  Upon being informed by security that he was not in the building, the group turned and walked up to Hallward Library, where the protest dispersed.  They later reconvened in one of the classrooms in Portland, where a ‘teach-in’ was staged.

“We’re hoping to put pressure on the Vice Chancellor and the University to not cut funding to courses and societies, but also not to raise tuition fees” Dave Pike, one of the organisers of the Nottingham protest,  told a local television crew, “Other countries are actually spending more on education at the moment and are seeing it as an investment.  It’s like a rolling stone, hopefully the people at this protest will bring more friends along next time round”

The big difference between the protests today and the Students’ Union supported Demolition protest seemed to be a complete lack of publicity for the event. Despite the existence of a Facebook page where people could find out whether a protest had been organised for their University, there was no publicity for the event at Nottingham until the day. Even the organisers seemed to be unsure as to exactly what route the march would take.

The underwhelming turnout could also be attributed to a distinct level of apathy amongst Nottingham students.  In a University of 32,000 people, a demonstration with approximately 60 protesters is an insignificant minority of students actually prepared to voice their opinions on this issue.  The poor attendance also begs the question as to whether protest marches are actually the best way for students to express their discontent.

There is supposedly another day of protests planned for the 30th November.  Will anything big happen then?  It’s looking doubtful.

By Ben McCabe

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24 Comments

  1. Mea Goodall
    November 24, 2010 at 18:40 — Reply

    I would definitely have gone if I actually knew it was going on. I thought Nottingham uni weren’t doing anything. The demo in London was brilliant but I can’t believe the apathy of Nottingham students. I swear so many people that attend Nottingham just don’t give a shit about the cuts, which really annoys me.
    In future MORE ADVERTISING please 🙂

  2. November 24, 2010 at 20:18 — Reply

    As someone whose fairly politically involved I’d have attended this and marched, as I did at the demolition, if I’d know it was on! Evidently more info was needed…

  3. November 24, 2010 at 21:02 — Reply

    Proof the days of student activism are officially over.

  4. dan
    November 24, 2010 at 21:35 — Reply

    I dont think its over but yeah more info is needed. However it is maybe some form of proof about Thatcher’s ideas that that society these stutters at the family house door.

  5. dan
    November 24, 2010 at 21:37 — Reply

    less wine….!

  6. Tyler
    November 24, 2010 at 22:40 — Reply

    I would have taken part if there was any actual organisation. Everyone I met today heard that there might be something going on but didn’t know HOW to take part.

  7. November 24, 2010 at 22:56 — Reply

    Tom Clements, You’d think that the largest student demo since ’84 earlier this month would be proof that student action is live and kicking.

    • November 25, 2010 at 10:33 — Reply

      And that’s taking into account the fact that they had been desperately plugging the London event for months.

  8. Dude
    November 24, 2010 at 23:00 — Reply

    If i had known I would have gone..
    I was in notts on the same day >.<

  9. Mark
    November 24, 2010 at 23:49 — Reply

    There are lots of problems with ‘demo’ the fact that they were trying to demand to speak to the VC about cuts implies that he supports them – I am fairly sure that he does not support any cut to university funding, and they should be trying to work with the university (as the SU are) to lobby the government and MPs (who are making the decisions about what funding the university should receive).

    Also the university does not provide funding to socieites – the university provides funding for the SU and then they grant money to socieites – surely if the organisers are trying to protect funding for socieites they should be putting pressure on the SU?

  10. Steven
    November 24, 2010 at 23:55 — Reply

    Wasn’t aware of it happening. Get emails around to as many people as you can. Advertise meetings to discuss action. Get people outside Portland building telling people what is going on.

    If you want to organise a protest, organise it right and get good effects.

  11. Vanessa A. E. Brown
    November 25, 2010 at 00:34 — Reply

    @ Mark:

    “There are lots of problems with ‘demo’ the fact that they were trying to demand to speak to the VC about cuts implies that he supports them – I am fairly sure that he does not support any cut to university funding”

    Fair point. However, what our Vice Chancellor has called for is an increase in tuition fees. He supported a rise before the Government had even proposed them! He, both personally and alongside other Russel Group universities, supported a rise to (if I remember the figure rightly) £7,000 a year. So, I do think his stance needs to be tackled.

  12. Stuart Neyton
    November 25, 2010 at 00:48 — Reply

    I know Nottingham has a problem with its lack of student activism but i think the poor attendance with this was more down to it being poorly promoted.

  13. November 25, 2010 at 10:24 — Reply

    James Austin, that was a discrete event with a lot of publicity but at German universities they have protests virtually every other day! That’s real, hardcore student activism.

    • November 25, 2010 at 17:45 — Reply

      Tom, And the French run around burning cars at their demo-I’m not certain following the European lead is nessciarily the right route or that the British style of protesting is directly comparable. Even during the miners strike, the poll tax riots and so forth we didn’t have the same level of action as on the continent. I’m not sure that directly implies that the UK is less politically active-just that we show our interested in different ways. Your also taking a fairly extreme example-compared to protestors in the US, Canada or Scandinavia we’re pretty active. The proliferation of political societies at this university-either single issue groups or party groups-also shows that Students arn’t entirely aparthetic.

      I think the number of responses in this thread from people who would have gone but didn’t know about it shows that there are a number of people who want to be active if they know about these things.

  14. Jonny
    November 25, 2010 at 22:30 — Reply

    But it was publicised! I saw posters for it in Hallward last week amongst other places, and there were flyers at the Notts SOS march.

  15. Tom
    November 27, 2010 at 01:06 — Reply

    this is perhaps the perfect opportunity to mention that there IS another day of action. This tuesday 11:30 at the portland steps.

  16. Luke Place
    November 27, 2010 at 02:17 — Reply

    Could the writer of this article please look up the meaning of “begging the question”. Petty I know, but I got in trouble for misuse as an undergraduate and feel responsible for letting it go unnoticed.

    • Ben McCabe
      November 27, 2010 at 10:02 — Reply

      @Luke Place
      Point accepted in a formal, literary sense, though I would argue that in the modern usage of this phrase, ‘beg the question’ is used far more often to mean ‘raise the question’ rather than the traditional meaning. In a student magazine I’m not surprised that the distinction hasn’t gone unnoticed but I know few who would actually use ‘beg the question’ in that way, unless it was in a formal essay.

      @Jonny – Yes, there were some flyers, but nowhere near enough necessary for students to actually notice that a protest was going ahead. As a News Editor I spent the week leading up to the event searching in vain for proof that there was even going to be a protest – had I not been in the Hallward library at 11am I would have had no idea that this was even going ahead until it started. That last week’s event hadn’t even a facebook event, when there were literally hundreds of other, well publicised events, taking place the same day, illustrates my point about a lack of publicity this time around. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case for next Tuesday.

  17. Joseph Clough
    November 27, 2010 at 07:07 — Reply

    I am upset that I am far away and cannot join in the demonstrations. But one thing I can do – and something we can all do, is help to promote the next protest event ourselves. It literally takes 1 minute to join the facebook group
    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=144577568927052
    and invite all your friends. Do you have access to a society emailing list, or are you an admin of a facebook group for Nottingham students? Utilise it!

  18. Mr X
    November 27, 2010 at 13:16 — Reply

    As someone involved in organizing this march I would largely agree that we didnt really ‘get off the ground’ in terms of publicity. As regards the 30th things are looking a lot better planned
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=144577568927052&index=1

    Obviously I’m not going to comment on whether nottingham students are apathetic or not, but they should consider that if they want to pursue further study, have younger siblings who will attend university or want their children to be able to go they should think about what these cuts and fee increases will mean.

    See you there!

  19. Joseph Clough
    November 27, 2010 at 20:04 — Reply

    Glad to see that now 350 people have clicked attending on the facebook page.

    But I think the question that really is begged, is why have our Student Union (which organised transport to, and promoted, the protest in London) failed to organise or promote the previous and upcoming Nottingham protests? Why has this been left to a bunch of people who are not associated with the SU?

  20. Rob Temperton
    November 28, 2010 at 14:36 — Reply

    Have a look at the NUTS coverage of the exec question time. A question a long those lines was the first question asked.

    http://www.nutsonline.org/episodes/4cf104653ccab/
    The question is about 5mins in

  21. Joseph Clough
    November 29, 2010 at 22:26 — Reply

    I’m glad to see that our Union have now put this event on their website and facebook page. I am looking forward to seeing Lawrence Bolton covering this on NUTS.

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