Students occupy third University of Sheffield building as 10-day sit-in in protest of lecturers' strike continues
Students at the University of Sheffield have taken over a third building on top of the two they were already occupying in support of striking staff.
Three campus buildings have now been closed due to a sit-in by students in solidarity with an ongoing lecturers’ strike over ‘deteriorating pay’ and working conditions.
The university has had to close each building the students are occupying and move teaching resources to other areas.
On Monday, students walked into Jessop West, home of the Languages Department and threw banners out the window, declaring the 'Free State of Jessop West'.
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The following day , they escalated their action and took over the Hicks Building, unfurling a banner asking, “Archaeology now, who next?”
Today (February 16), students also took over the Arts Tower and hung a banner that read “Save Archaeology” from a major walkway.
On taking the building, Twitter page ‘Uni of Sheffield Rent Strike’ tweeted: “We have occupied the Arts Tower. Students now hold *three* UoS campus buildings. We demand the University supports the @ucu strike demands and keeps open Archaeology.”
The university's world-renowned archaeology department is to close despite a campaign to save it.
Twitter user, @FraserRaeburn, wrote in response: “What percentage of Sheffield buildings do students need to occupy before they become the legitimate rulers of the university?”
One of the organisers, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “We are occupying in solidarity with the UCU and in support of their Four Fights, and call on Vice Chancellor Koen Lamberts to argue for UUK to accept UCU's USS proposals. Furthermore, we demand that the University of Sheffield archaeology department is not closed, and will not leave until the decision is reversed."
The sit-in is in support of an ongoing series of strikes by lecturers and university staff in protest of working conditions and pension disputes.
They are calling for a £2,500 pay rise for all staff, as well as action to tackle unmanageable workloads, pay inequality and the use of insecure contracts.
Students said they are staying in the premises for the duration of their lecturers’ strike, with one occupier explaining: "Staff learning conditions are student learning conditions. We support our striking staff because they are fighting for a better university for everyone and this disruption is a small price to pay.”
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “The action that begins today and will eventually hit 68 universities is down to vice chancellors who have failed staff and students. They have pushed through brutal pension cuts and done nothing to address falling pay, pay inequality, the rampant use of insecure contracts and unmanageable workloads."
A spokesperson for the University of Sheffield said: “There are currently a small number of students occupying three buildings on the University of Sheffield campus. The buildings are closed, and all teaching and other activities scheduled to take place are being moved online or to alternative locations."
“Our priority is to minimise disruption and we have been communicating any changes directly to students and staff.
“We are in contact with the students who are occupying the buildings and we hope that the situation is resolved as soon as possible.”