Student occupation continues in Arts Tower

The Arts Tower was occupied after Wednesday's public sector strikes

Lectures were disrupted and cancelled after the University of Sheffield raised concerns over student safety in the Arts Tower following the occupation of the building by student protesters.

But staff told students cancellations were to due to fears the occupation “could go further.”

A group of roughly 100 students and protesters occupied lecture theatre four during Wednesday afternoon in solidarity with public sector strikes that took place across the country.

The University cancelled or moved lectures on Thursday, stating that lessons has been postponed so a risk assessment could take place.

Lectures on Friday were also cancelled or relocated.

However, an e-mail seen by Forge Press states: “The rooms have been locked down because of the occupation in the basement and fears it could go further.

“The folks occupying the basement are peaceful, but others with a different agenda may gain access to the tower.”

Protesters have stressed that they do not want their actions to disrupt students’ education.

The decision to cancel further lectures is being reviewed by the University.

The occupiers have release a list of demands which they say must be fulfilled before they are prepared to leave the Arts Tower. These include a minimum wage of £7.20 for all university staff, that both Sheffield Vice Chancellors take a pay cut, that teaching assistants are given contracts and that the SU becomes more forceful in defending the right to education.

In an early statement, the occupation declared their solidarity with striking workers across the UK,They have also agreed to support those involved in the public sector strikes including UCU, Unite, Unison, GMB, ATL and are trying to link their movement with other students across the city.

A spokesperson for the University of Sheffield said: “This decision was made last night after careful consideration and when the number of occupiers in Lecture Theatre four was at its highest. Due to the time it takes to reschedule lectures and notify people of any changes, it was essential that the process was started as soon as possible.

“The number of individuals occupying the building has significantly reduced overnight.  We will reassess the situation this afternoon and students will be notified accordingly as to whether or not there will be any changes to tomorrow’s lectures and seminars.”

An e-mail circulated by the occupiers said: “Either the room bookings service is under the impression that we intend to disrupt lectures, which is absolutely untrue and could have been rectified by communicating with us, or they are unwilling to let students who would have been scheduled to come here to have contact with us lest they sympathise with our cause and the occupation grows.”

“Under no circumstances will the occupation be preventing lectures from continuing. We urge students who don’t understand why we are here to come down and speak to us.”

Those in occupation said they chose the Arts Tower because it was close to the University’s human resources offices, but have not ruled out a move to another building at a later date.

University security have been in contact with the protesters, agreeing that they will be allowed back inside if the building is evacuated due in the event of a fire alarm.

A full statement of the occupation’s aims and demands can be found of Sheffield Occupation’s Tumblr.

Last year protesters occupied the Richard Roberts and the Hicks building, in opposition to the rise in tuition fees.

In a statement, the University of Sheffield Students’ Union said: “The Students’ Union would encourage both the University and the occupiers to engage in constructive dialogue in order to achieve a positive resolution to the situation which minimises the disruption to students.”


6 Responses to “Student occupation continues in Arts Tower”

  1. george

    solidarity to the students of Sheffield University. over 4,000 public sector workers marched in Norwich to defend their conditions and our services. a speaker from UNISION made the point at the rally outside City Hall that many workers have been inspired by the student movement. ‘ they say cut back, we say fight back’

  2. Arthur

    The first demand of the occupation is that the university restarts lectures that they have cancelled in what the University college union (your lecturers) describe as

    “In a crude attempt to divide the student body and create divisions between the students and employees of the university, our employers have responded by cancelling and/or relocating classes in ALL Arts Tower lecture theatres. This is despite the fact that the occupying students have made it clear they are happy for classes to take place and that they have no intention of causing disruption.”

    So that is what your lecturers union have to say about it.

    Its a shame the other commenter fell for it so well.

  3. DeltaEcho

    These cuts are years overdue, please can you make sure you sit in on a few economics lectures during your occupation as you obviously haven’t got the foggiest idea about how things work. Money does not grow on trees!

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