The Occupation of George Square Lecture on the university’s central campus will continue despite the end of the UCU strikes, it was announced today. The Occupation has been renamed the Edinburgh Futures Institute, mocking the current expansion on Quartermile.
At 2.30 pm today, a ribbon was cut outside the lecture theatre, ‘unveiling’ the Edinburgh Futures Institute.
— Student Solidarity Edinburgh (@EdiSolidarity) March 21, 2018
Approximately 50 students have been occupying the building since last Tuesday, and will continue to do so, past yesterday’s conclusion to the first wave of industrial action taken by staff at the university in protest against changes to their pension scheme.
The university’s response is not yet clear, although lectures scheduled to take place in the venue are expected to be re-located. There is also uncertainty as to what action, if any, the university might take to remove the students from the premises.
Last week, allegations emerged of violence against students occupying the management office at the University of Aberdeen. In video footage of the event, Angus Donaldson, Director of Estates and Facilities at the University of Aberdeen, can be seen charging headfirst into a crowd of students and security staff, ramming students against the fire door they were being told to move away from. He is also seen manhandling a female student who responds by objecting loudly. Students have condemned the action.
Approximately 20 other occupations have taken place, including at Bath, Cambridge, Sussex, Aberdeen, Sheffield and Stirling. The continuation of the occupation at Edinburgh however, stands in contrast to the collapse of the occupation at The Arts Tower at the University of Sheffield.
The occupation has received support from staff and students alike, with many visiting and joining in the show of solidarity. The newly appointed rector, Ann Henderson, has visited the lecture venue twice and yesterday tweeted, “It was great to visit the USS Occupation again today to drop off some books for their radical library. The overwhelming student/staff solidarity is a wonderful thing for our university”.
The building has also been the venue for TeachOuts on themes such as “Resisting Inequality”, “The philosophy of Striking” and “Unions, Power and Politics in South Africa”.
Image: Silas Lehane