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Waikato Makes History

Over 100 Waikato University students took control of the campus registry today, calling for free education for tertiary students nationwide.

This is the first occupation of Waikato University in the past twelve years.

"Congratulations Waikato, our apathy has ended and the time has come for us to make a stand against debilitating debt. We are standing up today to avoid a future of poverty," Fightback organiser Heather Lyall said.

We now occupy all three floors of the registry building, crippling the university's finance and management divisions.

Waikato University staff will not be allowed into this student space for the next 48 hours.

So far there has been no police presence on campus and security has been minimal. Our protest is peaceful and we will not damage any University property. We will leave peacefully after making our demands and completing our 48 hour occupation.

We call on Vice Chancellor Bryan Gould to honour his promise yesterday not to call in police or extra security.

"Bryan's promise yesterday was excellent: we commend him for stating publicly that he supports free education, and allowing us free rein of the building. We are cautiously optimistic he will honour his promise," Heather said.

Amongst Fightback's demands to Government, we call for universal allowances for all students, wiping of all student debt and free education for all. Many of the same politicians who say this is unfeasible benefited from free education themselves.

"We are calling on Labour to listen to our call. Students across New Zealand have united, it is perilous for them to ignore us."

We welcome the support we have received from Alliance and many campus staff members.

The student loan system does not just affect students, it affects their families as well.

For this reason our student space has been set up as a child- and whanau- friendly zone, with all supporters and their families welcome to visit with donations of food and blankets and stay the night.

Forums will be held throughout the occupation to educate students on our movement.

by David Young.


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