The occupied lecture block on Sidgwick siteSolidarity College Cambridge

5pm update: University threatens legal action unless activists vacate immediately

The University “reserves the right” to take legal action if activists don’t leave the lecture block immediately, a University press release has said.

In a statement released at 5pm today (23/2), Graham Virgo, senior pro-vice-chancellor, wrote: “If you do not leave the Premises immediately, the University reserves the right without further notice to commence legal action to require you to vacate the Premises.

“On behalf of the University, I write to inform you that you do not have permission to occupy the Premises.

“Your occupation is disrupting the education of your student peers and is adversely impacting staff.”

He also asked that in the interests of safety, occupiers should not use lifts, and keep all fire exits and escape routes clear. Health and safety officers will visit today to assess the safety of the current situation.

Attached was a document issued by the Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service on general fire safety advice.

Now in its second day, activists have named the lecture block the “Angela Davis Building” and announced activities that range from banner making to anti-racism workshops. 

Noon (23/2) update: English lectures put online

English lectures are now also online for the day, with the rest of the week’s expected to follow to suit.


Mountain View

Students divided as strikes enter second week

In an email sent to students this morning, the Faculty said that lectures will be recorded and uploaded to Moodle. Lectures taking place elsewhere won’t be affected.

3.15pm update: Economics lectures put online due to occupation

Economics lectures and classes taking place from Wednesday to Friday this week (23-25/2) in the occupied lecture block have been put online, an email to students said today at 2.43pm.

The decision came following Cambridge Defend Education’s occupation this morning, but will only affect teaching taking place in the block. Lectures and classes elsewhere will go ahead as planned.

The University told Varsity: “We support the right to peaceful protest but the occupation of University lecture theatres by a small number of people disrupts access to education for all other students and teaching staff who use those buildings. We are working to minimise disruption to lectures.”

11:41am: Students occupy Sidgwick lecture block

Around 50 activists have occupied a lecture block at Sidgwick site in solidarity with the UCU strikes.

The students from Cambridge Defend Education (CDE), have barricaded themselves inside and covered the main entrance with banners and pamphlets.

The group says that students will not leave until the University agrees to meet their demands.

The demands are that:

1. The University commits to negotiating a comprehensive recognition agreement with the UCU that includes all categories of staff.

2. The University makes a public statement calling for local and national UCU demands to be met, including both the “Four Fights” and USS Pensions.

3. Students face no disciplinary measures for taking part in peaceful direct action supporting the strikes.

4. The University meets the demands of the Justice for College Supervisors campaign: a pay rise, secure contracts, and paid training for all supervisors.

5. The University makes it policy to pressure colleges to pay the real living wage to all staff.

The action follows the University’s rejection of the UCU’s proposals yesterday (21/2).

Outlining the justification for the University’s position on Friday (18/2), Stephen Toope, the vice-chancellor, said that if the UUK’s proposal for pension cuts was the “only viable option”, it should be implemented while an alternative could be found.

The activists organising the occupation are the CDE: a self-proclaimed “independent group of students and academics fighting for an empowering, emancipatory and radical vision of education.”

In 2018 and 2020 they occupied Old Schools, the University’s administrative centre, and ten years ago Lady Mitchell Hall, also on Sidgwick Site.

This is a breaking story. More updates to follow.