Students' sit-in over Gaza protest

STUDENTS are staging a sit-in at Sheffield Hallam University as part of a national protest against Israel's invasion of Gaza.

The protesters have occupied rooms on the tenth floor of the Owen building in the city centre, with 20 staying on the premises over night.

Similar occupations are taking place at other universities around the country.

The students want the university to condemn the attacks on Gaza, and provide scholarships for Gazan students.

They also want Hallam to twin itself with the University of Gaza, sending old books, computers and other equipment there.

The protesters also want the university to waive all current application and tuition fees for Palestinian students.

"We intend to stay here until our demands are met," said spokesman Matthew Vickary, aged 22.

"We are still negotiating with the university and we are not seeking to disrupt the university's activities. We are protesting as a gesture of solidarity with the Gazan people and we want to help students there.

"Their university has been blown up and their education severely disrupted. We are wanting the university to provide them with simple practical help."

A Hallam spokesman said the university supported the students' right to peaceful protest, but with that right came responsibility.

"The safety and security of staff, students and visitors is our priority, but the occupation has had no adverse effects on teaching.

"We will continue to monitor the protest but we cannot respond to the demands as these are political issues and Hallam is a non-political organisation," he added.