We are aware that Richard Poulson has circulated a memo to staff at SOAS attempting to excuse the emptiness of 53 Gordon Square over the last few weeks. This is not surprising, as the management team have some embarrassing facts sitting side-by-side in their armoury.
Over a dozen bailiffs smashed their way into the building on the 22nd December under protestations of an urgent need to work on its fabric. This urgency, it is clear, gave management carte blanche to blithely lie to our faces during negotiations, and also apparently superseded the express desire of the students’ union, trade unionists and academics that SOAS management seek a negotiated exit. The building has been boarded up, empty and entirely disused since the eviction, with all sham urgency evaporating as soon as it proved no longer
Poulson’s solicitous concern for the building seems oddly misplaced. It is he, not we, who contracted bailiffs to use sledgehammers and electric saws to smash holes in the roof, break glass and batter through doors. Is it possible he thought these would have no adverse effect on the building’s fabric? It is also Poulson and the senior management team who lied to us throughout negotiations, while simultaneously contracting out the eviction to bailiffs, at extensive cost and substantial risk to those inside.
There has been no work done at 53 Gordon Square over the past month. The time we could have used to further organise and enrich ourselves and our communtiy, and to disassemble the forces in and around Bloomsbury inching us all needlessly towards oblivion, was violently taken from us. SOAS is entirely aware of the propaganda war in which it is engaged, and to which we have no right of reply beyond this blog. We cannot send all-staff emails to refute the erroneous implication that we stripped the building for its metal.
Though we do not greet Poulson’s bizarre assertions, we are glad he is aware of the work of Charles Holden, who restored the building. Holden, also the architect of Senate House and most of the buildings enclosing Torrington Square, described himself as an ‘anarchist communist’, and, in line with his politics, refused the knighthood to be granted in recognition of his work. He doubtless spins in his grave as the University blazons the names of dictators and despots above its doors, rushes to ruthlessly commercialise its every aspect, and shamelessly sells its students downriver. Charles Henry Holden is not on your side.