The national demonstration that took place at Sussex today saw hundreds of students turn up to support striking lecturers in a bid to push university management to negotiate with UCU.
Organisers chose the University of Sussex to host the demonstration as Adam Tickell is the only Vice-Chancellor partaking in talks with UUK.
Earlier this morning at approximately 4 am, a number of students from the University of Sussex, University College London, and the University of Leicester occupied the East Slope building site, it has been reported.
The Badger conducted a telephone interview with demonstrators from inside the building. An undergraduate student from the School of Life Sciences commented: “We’ve occupied the building on three demands. First of all, that Tickell capitulates to the UCU’s demands regarding changes in pensions.
“Adam Tickell is currently the lead negotiator of the UUK in the what’s called ACAS mediated negotiations and it is up to him to end this strike so students can go back to lectures and seminars, and academics can get a decent fair pension.
“The second one is that the University cut the rent for the new East Slope down to the original east slope pricing from £160 back to £88. This is because rising rent is pricing students out of university, and the social cleansing of universities will be the greatest sin that universities have committed on students in a generation.
”Thirdly, (we demand that) the contractor who works on this building end blacklisiting and allows trade union reps to walk around this premise and unionise workers.
“It is completely unacceptable in this day and age that blacklisting still exists, especially when it’s explicitly illegal under UK law. So we’ve come into occupy in order to end this strike to get a fair deal for our academics, and to stop the social cleansing of universities and stop the unjust treatment of workers”.
When asked if the occupation was aimed at Balfour Beatty as well as management, the student replied: “It’s aimed at both. It’s aimed at Balfour to stop the blacklisting of workers so that they can be unionised and so that they can get proper working rights and so that they can be treated fairly in the long run.
“It is also aimed at specifically Adam Tickell to tell him to end the strikes to give our academics a fair pension and its also aimed at university management as a whole telling them to cut rent and to stop the social cleansing of universities.”
He further commented that “150 new people have come in today” and when asked about how long they planned to occupy the site, another student replied: “We can’t know, but indefinitely”.
A Masters student from the School of Global Studies told The Badger: “The other three things we did was to be conscious of everyone who was involved.
”It was democratic we had a big meeting. We’re trying not to get too many people on the floor at one time as we’re concerned about safety and we’re respecting the building and were absolutely not doing any damage. Also, there’s a no alcohol, no drugs, and no smoking policy unless they are prescribed. People have been planning this since 8 am last night.”
Both Balfour Beatty and the University have been contacted for comment.