University of Sheffield protest planned against ‘cultural vandalism’ after archaeology department closure

Staff and students at the University of Sheffield will hold a rally next month in protest at the 'cultural vandalism' impacting educational institutions nationwide.

By Rahmah Ghazali
Monday, 22nd November 2021, 4:16 pm

The event, organised by the #SaveSheffieldArchaeology movement, comes in the wake of universities around the country closing departments and courses.

Among those affected was the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield, which was closed as a result of an institutional review despite massive protests.

The University Executive Board, which delivered the controversial decision last May, cited difficulties in maintaining the status quo due to the declining numbers of students choosing the field.

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Campaigners and supporters gather in front of the University of Sheffield building to protest against the closure of Department of Archaeology. A protest against what campaigners have branded 'cultural vandalism' is planned for Wednesday, December 1

On Wednesday, December 1, staff and students at the university will rally in defence of academic communities facing what they have dubbed 'commercialisation of knowledge'.

In a statement, the organisers said: "The demonstration will focus on the attack on learning, education, and culture that is taking place at the University of Sheffield and elsewhere.

"In many universities, management is uncritically endorsing the worst elements of the neoliberal economy, including the marketisation of education, devaluation of frontline work, and adoption of a widespread corporate attitude that has made many work environments highly toxic.

"Students and staff, united against cultural vandalism, intend to reclaim the university as a genuine place of learning and mutual support."

Over three quarters voted to support strike action

University staff have also recently taken part in a national ballot in favour of an industrial action over pay, working conditions and pensions.

Over three quarters (78.8 per cent) of Sheffield’s University and College Union members voted to back strike action.

If the industrial action goes ahead, this would be the fourth year in a row of strikes at the university.

The rally is organised by the #SaveSheffield Archaeology campaign and the Sheffield University College Union (UCU).

It is also supported by the Sheffield Students’ Union (SU) and the Sheffield Trades Union Council (TUC).

Protesters will gather at 11am on the University Concourse, in front of the Students’ Union building.

The prime time for speakers will be from noon to 1pm. The live stream of the event will be available on the Save Sheffield Archaeology Facebook page.