So somehow everything went past at huge speed in the last 2 months of 2010, and we failed to update this site giving you all the important information on the group’s happenings. Since we updated, York has seen half a dozen different protests, plus the establishment of a new group focused on the NHS and some interesting plans for future events that we’ll leave to another post.
On 24th November, around 40 students and supporters took part in a “degree auction” at the University of York, where a dozen mock degrees were auctioned for specially designed ‘monopoly money’, as a theatrical representation of a Market in Higher Education. The group’s banner was held from Central Hall, overlooking the site of the auction, and the action got York Students Against Cuts several media appearances.
Responding to criticisms that the degree auction wasn’t visible enough on campus, “March on York” was announced, and on November 30th over 500 people, many of them school or college students, descended on the city centre. A nice pile of snow provided a stage for speakers, before the march set off – first one way, and then the other, leaving police rather confused. In St Helen’s Square we stopped to make noise at the council offices, before heading for Lendal Bridge. After another pause, the march went past the station, in through Mickelgate Bar and down Mickelgate, before returning to the city centre.
The next day, the Great York Sit-in began at the University of York, commencing 12 days of activity at the Exhibition Centre attached to the Physics and Electronic departments. Music, workshops, films and lots and lots of decision making meetings followed, but if nothing else, the outcome has been a great communal spirit amongst campaigners. Saturday 4th saw the Ghost Tax Tour of York wend its way from shop to shop, bank to bank, informing the public of tax avoidance. It turns out that Tax Avoidance is a lot more fun if you talk about it in a conspiratorial tone.
On Sunday 5th there was again a Student march, but this time with notable numbers of Trade Unionists joining in. The march took in York St John University, where the Vice Chancellor has claimed that students will get a perfectly good deal. As Leeds didn’t have a protest planned that day, we became the focus for regional TV news attention. With the vote set for the following Thursday, back to the streets we went for round 3. Both the 5th and 9th saw over 200 taking part, and although the mood changed noticeably once people knew the result of the vote, people really didn’t seem defeated.
We got a new venue for our meetings; the Black Swan are giving us a room almost twice the size of the room at the Corner Pin, and although its a shame to move on, we’ve come close to people sitting on each other’s laps! With more space, hopefully the meetings will continue to grow gradually. A meeting took place at York District Hospital aimed at establishing a campaign group to defend the NHS, and York Housing Action is also forming.