Ok, the usual art related post is being replaced by something a bit more important today. I’ve just come back from my first overnight stay the the Free Hetherington.
I’m going to start with my opinion of occupations: there’s many situations I don’t support them. Most of the time, it’s because I feel the people that are affected by them are the wrong targets (e.g. workers, students) and can disrupt the people they’re fighting for. This is not saying I’m against occupations as a whole, but there’s just been several instances where the execution has been wrong.
Saying that, the Free Hetherington is something very different, and very exciting. The Hetherington Research Club was Glasgow University’s post-grad union, till it was shut down last year, due to mismanagement of funds. Since then, the club has laid dormant, and is now potentially being converted into offices.
On Tuesday, some students entered a side entrance without breaking in and have now secured 24 hour access.
One of my pet hates is empty spaces. I can’t stand countryside and old buildings being destroyed for new builds when there are houses, offices and factories lying empty.
What is really exciting is what is now being done at the Free Hetherington. There’s been lectures, film screenings, workshops, classes, a people’s kitchen from donations/skipping. This is what an occupation should be like. It should be taking something and creating a positive from it. I am also a firm believer in positive protest; instead of shouting about how things can be different (not that that’s not necessary), let’s make a difference.
The atmosphere at Hetherington has been amazing. Welcoming, friendly and positive. I only meant to go a couple of hours at a time, but I’ve been staying there for hours, just getting to know people. Also, surprisingly, I’ve not noticed any left-wing rivalry thus far (some wee jokes and discussions here and there, but nothing heated). Also, it doesn’t feel SSP/SWP/what have you dominated, which personally, when that happens, I feel alienated even as a socialist. While it is political, the feeling is very different from the ACAN meetings or the demos. Hell, I’ve realised some people I thought were scary at them are actually lovely! Also, the support from lecturers and people walking past has been great.
It’s an exciting thing to be part of. It may sound idealistic, or utopian, but the idea of people helping each other and teaching each other is amazing, and can seem strange in today’s cynical world. If I’m 100% honest, I hope it stays run by students, for the students. And not just uni students, but anyone who wants to learn and participate.
The only thing that is sad is that while we’ve taken a positive route to protesting, it hasn’t been reported at all. To me, it just shows that the media want violence, and to paint students as rioters. I hope this changes.
It’s been inspirational though, expect to see me there a lot over… well. As long as it lasts! I’ll be doing life drawing classes and animation workshops next week, and for updates on other events, join the FB page:
(P.S I’ll get some photos/footage of the happenings next week!)