Open Letter to Dublin City Council

Today, the 2nd March, the provisional university sent an open letter to the City Manager of Dublin City Council demanding a space for student-managed teaching and research and denouncing the neo-liberalisation of the university and the destruction of the public good. This is the second step in our campaign to reclaim a space to fight for education as a right and to take back the university. The text of the letter follows.

Dear John Tierney,

We are writing to demand a student-managed educational and research space within the city. Our motivations are set out in what follows.

Both the State and those in control of the universities have abandoned any commitment to education as a right and to equality in education. There is a consensus between the political class and the university elite on the re-introduction of 3rd level fees (or other mechanisms to make us pay for university) and the subordination of research and teaching to economic objectives (i.e. the smart economy), as well as bureaucratic regulations which are often an end in themselves. These measures are justified with reference to the public deficit created by the same neo-liberal politics which are now proposed in order to save the university.

We are no longer willing to watch as the university ‘adapts’ to the global market. We are no longer willing to watch as the university gives away resources and space to neo-liberal projects which, under the cover of ‘partnership’ with the ‘business community’, have introduced the rationality of the market into the heart of the university.

We do not believe that education should be practiced as a hobby or a private interest. Nor do we believe it should be driven by narrow, market needs. Education is collective and open-ended, qualities which are at the centre of the university.

It is in this context that we perceive the necessity to resurrect the university as an egalitarian institution. As a first step this requires a physical space to organize open and independent research and teaching, without fees, points or selling-out to the market. As this space is prohibited to us within the university we now demand a space beyond its walls.

Five years ago Dublin boasted of the most expensive land in the world. Now empty buildings and For Let signs tell us of a sudden evacuation; a living ruin to a false economy. With hindsight everyone sees what went wrong yet NAMA hopes to recover its 40 billion worth of properties and half finished developments by selling them off in the ‘long term’. Not only is this wrong it is also unrealistic.

While we are told that the university has to be undermined because the state has no resources we know the state has at least one resource in abundance: empty buildings. If the state refuses to support education and other public services, we demand that a currently idle state-owned building be handed over to the citizens who believe in equality and education as a right.

There is no justification for maintaining empty publicly-owned buildings. We have no intention of accepting a negative response to our request as this could only be another expression of disdain for citizens and equality.

We perceive the crisis of the university and the crisis of the state to be the same: the mistaken belief that what is good for private interests is good for public interests. We believe in a different idea of the public good.

As students we demand a right to our university, as citizens we demand a right to our city.

While Dublin City Council may not have any formal powers over NAMA or bank owned properties we demand that as our elected representatives you put pressure on those who do. As our elected representatives you have a responsibility to act on our behalf.

We look forward to commencing a dialogue and to achieving our demand.

Yours in anticipation,

The Provisional University