Several students have expressed their anger after contractors were spotted washing away chalk messages and tearing down posters around campus in support of the ongoing UCU strike.
Students have been showing their support to members of staff who are striking in protest at proposed changes to pensions.
PhD student and former Students’ Union employee Emma Nagouse told Forge Press that she had seen contractors taking down posters in support of the strike, including ones on the Students’ Union building.
She said they were taking posters down near the cash machines next to Coffee Revolution, but rather than taking all posters down it was just limited to posters supporting the strike.
She also said that she had seen contract staff walking around campus with buckets of water and brushes, cleaning messages of support off the floor.
Emma asserted that they were doing this selectively, removing messages in support of the strike and leaving chalk messages which showed support for candidates for Students’ Union Officer positions.
Emma said: “The solidarity expressed between the students and staff has been huge across the country and it has been particularly strong in Sheffield so it’s disappointing when these messages are removed or censored.”
Helen Cameron, who is also a PhD student, tweeted a picture of the steps into Firth Court being cleaned of messages.
‘No instruction to remove posters’
When approached by Forge Press for comment, Mark Drury, Head of External Communications at the University of Sheffield, said: “The only posters that have been removed have been ones with offensive messages, that were not fit for staying up.
“As for removing the posters outside the Students’ Union, that is nothing to do with the Estates or Security teams, they weren’t instructed to do so.
“After I saw the tweets earlier I did specifically check and there was no instruction from me to remove those posters.
“As for the chalk messages being removed, that is something we would do normally as part of our efforts to keep the campus clean and tidy.
“They weren’t told to selectively target messages about the strike action.”
Drury also told Forge he would double-check that strike messages hadn’t been specifically targeted and update Forge on the situation.
Some felt that the strike materials were being specifically targeted because posters and messages of support were seemingly being removed when those supporting SU Officer candidates were not.
Chris Townsend, chair of The Free University of Sheffield, who has been involved with UCU pickets, said: “It’s disappointing to see our campaign is being targeted. Students wanted to show a solidarity with workers and we should have our freedom to be able to do this.”