Charles Street Sheffield: Students occupy sixth university building in solidarity with striking lecturers

Students in Sheffield have occupied a sixth university building in an act of solidarity with striking UCU lecturers.

Monday, 21st February 2022, 4:07 pm

Sheffield Hallam University students occupied their sixth university building this week, as an act of solidarity with striking staff at both Sheffield universities.

Staff at University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University voted to join the UCU strike this month over its ‘four fights’: fair pay, equality, manageable workload, and job security.

University of Sheffield staff are also striking over the controversial decision to close the award-winning archaeology department.

Sheffield students occupied the Charles Street building as part of a rent strike. Image: Sheffield Hallam University Rent Strike

On Monday, Sheffield Hallam Uni Rent Strike announced via Twitter that they had occupied the Charles Street building. The tweet read: “The Uni must support the UCU's demands. Solidarity with the strikers!”

Students entered the building at 8.30am and occupied the entrance and lecture theatres, displaying a range of banners including ones reading ‘No Fees’, ‘No VCs’, and ‘Solidarity’.

A student taking part in the occupation said: “We understand the disruption being caused, but feel there has been no other choice. After decades of pay cuts and worsening working conditions, our staff are at breaking point and so is our learning environment. We will continue to stand by our staff and put pressure on management, in a joint fight for a better education.”

The Charles Street building is the sixth university building in Sheffield to be occupied as part of the rent strike. Image: Sheffield Hallam University Rent Strike

Occupations by Sheffield students at five University of Sheffield buildings ended when the university won a possession order to remove the occupiers on Saturday, February 19.

The buildings were the Arts Tower, The Diamond, Jessop West, Hicks, and Firth Court. So far, Sheffield Hallam University does not have a possession order, and the Charles Street building is the only university building in Sheffield currently being occupied by students.

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Students are demanding the university supports the UCU’s Four Fights, signs up to the NUS pledge to not use Non-Disclosure Agreements against sexual violence survivors, stops being complicit in Israeli Apartheid, and that the Vice Chancellor, Chris Husbands, resigns.

Sheffield students also occupied The Diamond, but left after the University of Sheffield gained a Possession Order. Image: Sheffield Hallam University Rent Strike

The occupation of university buildings is not connected to the rent strikes of last year, but students are using the rent strike Twitter accounts to publicise their action.In January last year, Sheffield students took part in a rent strike over concerns about squalid conditions they said they are made to live in despite paying up to £160 a week in rent.