UPDATE: The University sent an email round to all students on Saturday morning announcing that the occupation was over, and that out of hours access would be given to all those who had been given training later in the day. Professional offices will reopen on Monday morning.
Around 25 students have occupied the Arts Tower in solidarity with striking members of the UCU and demanding concessions from the Vice-Chancellor, Keith Burnett.
Members of Sheffield Student-Worker Solidarity occupied the building early on Wednesday morning, blocking the doors with chairs and other furniture. They also distributed flyers with their demands and hung banners in the Arts Tower and on the bridge between Western Bank Library and the Arts Tower.
A statement from the occupiers said: “The occupation is intended to amplify the disruption of the strike, targeting the Arts Tower as it houses the Finance and Human Resources departments. This action is a last resort in our attempts to defend our university from marketisation and cuts.”
The University sent an email to all students saying that the Arts Tower was closed as occupiers were blocking fire exits, however the protesters have said they “intend to keep the Arts Tower open to all students and workers who are supportive of the strike action”.
Their demands include that Keith Burnett publicly come out against the deal being offered in the pensions dispute, a 5:1 pay ratio being implemented and all staff being brought in house and a freeze on rents in University accommodation.
A rally was held outside the Arts Tower at 11AM, with speeches from Stuart McMillan, Education Officer, and Sam Morecroft, the anti-casualisation officer for Sheffield UCU.
Representatives of the Students’ Union and Sheffield UCU told Forge Press that they support the occupiers’ demands.