Woke thugs terrorise Edinburgh University

Woke thugs terrorise Edinburgh University

by Max Young
article from Thursday 16, April, 2020

APPLETON TOWER is a striking sight on Edinburgh’s skyline and its five lecture theatres alone can house 1,200 students. It also serves as a hub for the University’s informatics students and is decked out with hardware crucial to their coursework. Unfortunately, for those students with fast-approaching deadlines it was a prime target for a small group of far-left activists who “occupied” it, barricading the doors of the building with miscellaneous furniture and completely cutting off the lecture theatres and the building’s seven floors full of computer equipment essential to study. 

The group of occupiers, branding themselves on social media as “Occupi-Ed,” publicised events such as a “workshop on anti-capitalist tea drinking,” and invited visitors to view their “radical library”, which included books like Marx’s CapitalThe Benn Diaries, anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin’s The Conquest of Bread, and Economics for the Many, a collection of essays on socialist economics by such luminaries as Rebecca-Long Bailey, Barry Gardiner and Paul Mason, edited by John McDonnell. 

The disruption is nominally in support of strike action by university lecturers, but has wider political objectives. A statement on the most recent occupation – that of the Social and Political Sciences building, states that “You should be aware that the occupation is fundamentally anti-capitalist and non-hierarchical. Entrants must also… agree to our safer spaces policy.” That safer spaces policy explains: “The occupation has a diverse range of participants and some of us experience different kinds of oppression & violence (sometimes at the same time), including racism, (dis)ableism, misogyny, classism, transphobia, transmisogyny, homophobia, islamophobia, fatphobia, antisemitism, prejudice in reference to accents and language abilities as well as others. These oppressions are not separate from each other which can be exhausting & painful.”

Despite over 250 Informatics students signing an open letter to the occupiers, asking that they minimise disruption and allow work to continue, “Occupi-Ed” did not relent and, as a result also caused significant disruption to a national student-led informatics event called “Hack the Burgh”, which had attracted over 300 computer scientists. It was forced to relocate to the less-well equipped Informatics Students Forum.  Maksymilian Mozolewski, a second year artificial intelligence student, captured the essence of student frustration in stating that “The fact that a bunch of masquerading, self-righteous strike-hijackers are ‘occupying’ is very frustrating."

The group’s next target was the Chrystal Macmillan Building, the centre of the School of Social and Political Sciences, also a teaching hub. A blocked fire escape in that building resulted in the evacuation of the adjacent William Robertson Wing, the home of History students. By this point, the negative response of the wider student body was resounding. All four candidates in the run up to the election of the University’s Student Association President were critical of the occupations, one saying “why some 30 individuals feel they are entitled to be this selfish is beyond me.” Polling carried out by the Edinburgh Tab, a student newspaper, has found that over 75 per cent of respondents were opposed to the group’s activity.

The most astonishing response is the University refusing to halt the disruption by the far-left, but rather decided to pander to these aspiring revolutionaries and their thuggish behaviour. When I contacted the office of the Vice-Chancellor, I was told that “The University respects the right of people to protest lawfully and peacefully. We are working hard to relocate affected teaching and other activities to other areas, and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our students.” 

If the University can’t summon the courage to stop some 20 far-left nuts from disrupting students’ ability to study, then it needs to rethink its approach to learning, or compensate affected students by re-paying some of their fees. One can be sure that if the occupations had been organised by some politically unfashionable group then those involved would have been swiftly removed and threatened with suspension. Such, however, is the terror of university bureaucrats of offending the ‘Woke’ that ordinary students have to suffer because the University won’t stand up for their right to study. 

Max Young is a student at the University of Edinburgh and Deputy Editor of Free Market Conservatives

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