Occupy Exeter: The Interview

Sanya Burgess interviews a member of Occupy Exeter.

cathedral Exeter

With the occupation of the Cathedral coming to an end recently Sanya Burgess interviews Carlus Hudson, a representative from Occupy Exeter.

How long have you been with Occupy Exeter and why did you want to join them?

Since November, but I'd previously been involved in London the month before. I joined because it is a new, energetic mass movement which is asking the fundamental questions about the nature of our economic and political systems. It’s democratic and each individual's contributions are valued.

What are the aims of Occupy Exeter?

Raising awareness about issues of social injustice, economic and ecological sustainability.

Some might see you as idealists, how would you respond to this opinion? How realistic do you think your aims are?

There's no denying we have an ideal view of what our society should look like but we don’t claim to have all the answers to the world's problems. Fundamentally, it’s about discussion – outside of party politics and the influence of the mass media – for what direction society should go in. Our current economic model is heading towards environmental disaster, economic growth is grinding to a halt, unemployment and poverty have dramatically increased in recent years, and it can't go on like this. To think we can simply reboot the economy and continue where we left off before the crisis is as unrealistic as promising any utopian solution.

Why should students be interested?
University students are being hit particularly hard by the economic crisis and the government's response to it. The increase in tuition fees is a prime example of how students are being made to pay for and effectively punished for a crisis that they played no part in causing.

This week is National Student Volunteering week – what can students get involved in?

Anyone can drop into our main meetings which are held every Tuesday in the North Bridge Inn at 6pm, every Friday at Friend's Meeting House at 6pm, and every Sunday at John Gandy's at 2pm. Additionally, we hold a meeting every Wednesday at 4pm in the North Bridge Inn that's very focused on how Occupy interacts with the people of Exeter and the students at the university. It's a very relaxed meeting over a pint, and a great introduction to Occupy. Plus, we’re on Facebook and Twitter.

What are your reactions to some of the bad press you’ve received?

There's very little we can do about negative pieces but we try to get our voice heard. We knew the eviction from Cathedral Green would happen sooner or later, and we're prepared for that. We left peacefully, tidied up where our camp was, and even offered to re-seed the grass. The anti-social behaviour was caused by individuals who chose to live on-site but who weren't actually involved with the protest. Dealing with an open site did create problems and we had hoped for a joint strategy with the Cathedral in tackling it.

What are Occupy Exeter’s current plans?

We're keeping the movement strong with lots of regular meetings, direct action, debates, talks, film screenings, and lots of other events. We’re always more than happy to involve new members, one-off visitors and people from other movements and organisations.