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Lindis Kipp
Part of the Hetherington Retrospective feature.

I have to start by saying that I disagreed with the Free Hetherington and said so on many occasions and in many forums. This got me into a lot of arguments and lost me some friends, but I stuck by my argument. My aversion to the occupation was not on a matter of principle - I support the idea of an open dialogue with the university and I think it is important that the student body shows that they will not simply be overlooked in decisions as big as those Muscatelli proposed. However, I fundamentally disagreed with the way the students that led the occupation went about it. I felt that as someone who believed in setting realistic demands and approaching discourse from a less extremist angle, my views would not be welcome, despite the appearance of free speech. I liked the idea of lectures, talks and events held in the building, but refused to go even to a strike replacement lecture for my course, because I felt that many involved with the Free Hetherington held a “you´re either with us or against us” attitude. I also lost a lot of respect for those involved in making the Free Hetherington´s claims, when they asked for no repercussions for any of those involved. If you are not willing to risk anything for a cause, are you really fighting for it? Most of all, I was put off by the amount of hateful rhetoric that surrounded the occupation on both sides.

This list seems like I simply thought the Free Hetherington were a rag-tag bunch of hippies doomed from the start. While that was certainly the gist of some of my thoughts, the behaviour of GUU members and others on the opposing side of the divide was childish, pathetic and counterproductive. As a whole, the months of occupation felt like being caught between arguing parents, when neither side is really making much sense, but both expect you to stand fully behind them.

Like most other students, I am glad to hear that Muscatelli has decided not to follow through with the severe cuts that were originally planned. Unlike many students, I don’t believe that it was solely the valiant effort of those in the Free Hetherington that led to this development. I know that lecturers and other members of staff were exerting pressure; I know that our masters course came forward and told the University that proposed changes to the course would be for the worse, and I am sure there were many other, quieter rebellions. I hope that the new postgraduate club can continue what I believe to have been the Free Hetherington’s true strength; an open forum for a discussion of a variety of issues. I also hope that it will become a truly open forum, where discourse can happen without vitriol, creating a platform for freedom of speech. This means that there will be some opinions that radically differ from yours and that’s O.K. These are worth hearing just as much as your own. I hope the student body takes this on board and leaves the partisan lines behind; then and only then will something truly noteworthy rise from this.


0 replies on “A divisive yet useful occupation”

Liam Turbett says:

“I also lost a lot of respect for those involved in making the Free Hetherington´s claims, when they asked for no repercussions for any of those involved. If you are not willing to risk anything for a cause, are you really fighting for it?”

this makes very little sense – of course they were risking something by occupying the building as noone knew how management would respond to this demand (and particularly with the Senate occupation on the 22nd March), but do you really think everyone involved (a sizeable number) should have been actively seeking to get academic sanctions, or expulsion? there would be very little to gain from creating martyrs – so of course it made sense to demand no repercussions, particularly as the occupiers were seeking to get as many students involved as possible who’d be scared off by the threat of them!

“I felt that as someone who believed in setting realistic demands and approaching discourse from a less extremist angle.”

I’ve heard similar phrases to this being bandied about a lot in relation to The Free Hetherington. What exactly is this “extremist angle” you talk of and what would be your “realistic demands” and your approach to discourse? As someone who clearly has it more together than those crazy marxist moaners in the FreeHRC, how would you go about anti-cuts action at Glasgow University?

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