Students are bedding in for the night, as they countinue to occupy meeting room in Northcote House in opposition to the ongoning USS Pensions dispute.
The John Usher room, just down the corridor from the University’s Council chamber, was taken over at around 8:30 this morning. They managed to gain access through an open door.
The target of their occupation was the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Group (VCEG) meeting, which was set to take place in the room from 10am.
The University’s security services have now cut off access to the rooms, with the original door being locked, and the other route being guarded by Estate Patrol. Students are being allowed to leave, but not re-enter. The protesters are claiming that this is stopping them from getting food in, and are calling this new tactic from the University “leave or be starved out.” The Head of Security at the University told protesters that they were “allowing food to be passed through the windows”, and subsequent policy has allowed food to be brought in thorugh Estate Patrol.
The University has also informed the occupiers that cameras and microphones in the room have been switched on, and are recording, for their “safety and security”. They later corrected this, stating that the microphones were not on.
The protesters demanded the following in a video statement:
We stand here today in solidarity with our striking lecturers. We have occupied the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Group meeting room until such a time that they release a clear statement regarding how they feel about the strikes. We stand in solidarity with our lecturers and we will not be moved.
Mike Shore-Nye, the University’s Registrar, and Janice Kay, Provost, met with the occupiers this morning. The University of Exeter told Exeposé that “A small number of students have gathered in a meeting room on the University’s Streatham Campus. We respect students’ right to protest, provided they do so in a safe and legal manner.”
The protesters were addressed earlier by Becca Hanley, the Guild’s VP Activities, and Kat Karamani, VP Welfare & Diversity, who gave information about support that the Advice Unit can provide, and asked for further information about how the Guild can help. A Students’ Guild spokesperson told Exeposé that: “The Students’ Guild has been made aware of the ongoing student occupation here on campus today. The Guild supports every student’s right to voice their opinions and views in a safe and peaceful manner.”
This occupation comes as the UCU enters its third week of escalating strike action, with academics from across the country walking out until Thursday in opposition to changes to their pension scheme. The UCU’s Exeter Branch issued a statement in support of the occupation.
Find the latest updates here, and follow @ExeposeNews for the latest updates as the occupation continues.