Apathy is often used to describe students - the notion that we no longer care shuts down debate, silences our voices and contributes to nationwide passivity. If we aren't apathetic, we are dreamers. Dreamers with unrealistic, costly and radical demands. Our aim of establishing an open, creative and liberated space, where all are free and able to participate in the imagining of a new directly democratic, non-hierarchical and universally accessible education should not be radical but a shared ideal and a way forward.
It was necessary for this to happen at LSE as we are the prototype for the transformation for other universities around Britain and beyond. We stand against this privatised, profit-driven, and bureaucratic 'business model' of higher education, which locks students into huge debts and turns LSE into a degree-factory and us into consumers. When a university is more concerned with its image, its marketability and the 'added value' of its degrees, the student is no longer a student - they become a commodity and education becomes a service. Institutional sexism and racism, as well as conditions of work for staff and lecturers, becomes a distraction for an institution geared to profit.
The culture and education at LSE is known for producing graduates destined for the city. We cannot ignore LSE's role in the relationship between the very financial institutions that brought the economy to its knees and continue to perpetuate economic injustices and fraud. LSE as a public institution is failing its social function to hold systems of inequality to account and is rather entrenching those very hegemonic structures of power. We cannot keep seeing these two situations as unrelated. Historically, LSE has been the think-tank of the financial industry and the neoliberal revolution from the 1970s - we want to reclaim LSE's history as well as the space. The student's ability to challenge the status quo has been sold as the thoughts and ideas that infiltrate our institution are derived from businesses and the neoliberal status quo.
We do not understand why the university, and other universities in it's wake, are basing themselves on a financial system that nearly brought the world to it's knees. Our response is not only to occupy the space but also to curate area in such a way that individuals can come freely, lead discussions, join in on the meetings and learn from our free workshops. The structure has been agreed on through consensus allowing us to focus on the organisation of discussions and inviting speakers to show support.
Knowledge is not a commodity but something precious and valuable in its own right. And we hope to prove, if only within a limited time and space, that education can be free. This liberated space should also be a space for an open discussion on the direction this university and our educational system as a whole is heading. We want to emphasize that this process is not only for students, and we encourage the participation of all LSE staff, non-academic and academic.
We join the ongoing struggles in the UK, Europe and the world to reject this system that has changed not only our education but our entire society. From the occupations in Sheffield, Warwick, Birmingham and Oxford, to the ongoing collective takeover of the University of Amsterdam - students have made clear that the current system simply cannot continue. For minds to be free, learning must also be free and unconstrained.
Follow the occupation on Twitter: @LSEOCCUPATION