Students from Stirling University have occupied the Logie Lecture Theatre to support striking lecturers and protest the pension deal offered by Universities UK (UUK) that was rejected by the University and College Union (UCU).
Students who showed up to attend a lecture at 9am were met with locked doors and told that the lecture theatre was under occupation. One of the main entrance doors of the lecture theatre has been padlocked and protest banners have been put up on the windows.
At least three lectures that were scheduled to take place in Logie have been disrupted today as a result of the occupation, with a philosophy lecture having to be relocated and a politics lecture being cancelled. The university has already started to relocate lectures due to take place on Thursday and Friday due to speculation that the occupation could continue for several days.
Occupiers were concerned about a rumour that said they were students from another university, but every student participating in the occupation is a Stirling University student.
A spokesperson for the occupiers told Brig: “We have a list of demands and will not move until these demands are met. We will be here as long as we need.” The spokesperson also thanked university staff and campus security officers for being considerate and treating them with respect.
The list of demands include the university principal, Gerry McCormac unconditionally supporting striking lecturers, that staff will not lose pay for their strike action, and that staff are not forced to do any additional work without pay.
The occupiers stressed the importance of supporting the strike and the lecturers, with many criticising the pension deal offered by UUK, describing it as “shabby and ridiculous”. They also spoke about how the education of students could be harmed by the pension deal.
Students participating in the occupation also criticised the university and the Principal, Gerry McCormac. One said that the occupation is what it takes to make the principal listen and see that students support the striking lecturers and that he should too. One occupier said that they felt the university had tried to turn the students against the striking lecturers.
Lecturers who were attending the picket line at the main entrance to the university came to Logie to show support for the students in occupation, talking to them and taking a picture in front of the building.
Many of the lecturers said that they were grateful for the show of support that they had received from the students. One lecturer told Brig: “It is tremendous that students are showing support and solidarity, and we really appreciate their support.
Another lecturer said that they were very moved by this show of solidarity, that protesting this new pension deal was important because the new deal will not just impact universities, but will also impact other workplaces, and that they hope students know that this about the future, saying that if we don’t defend these rights then our students wont have them when they graduate. The lecturer also said: “It is ironic that this occupation has taken place across from the INTO building, which represents the commercialisation of education.”
Despite the overwhelming show of support from lecturers there was a mixed reaction from students who had lectures scheduled in the Logie Lecture Theatre.
Some students supported the occupation and said that they understood why it was happening and that they were not opposed to it. Some described it as brave and bold with one student saying that it is bound to grab more attention and show that this matters to students.
However some students were opposed to the occupation of Logie and criticised it. One student said she was annoyed because she travelled to university for nothing, another described it as ridiculous, asking how they were supposed to learn if the lectures are being disrupted by the occupation, another said that they didn’t understand why the occupiers took this course of action. Students were concerned about mixed signals, as the lecturers had already told them that their lectures were scheduled only to turn up and find out that they weren’t, some accusing the occupiers of purposely disrupting their education.
One student told Brig: “I think it’s a disgrace that these people can occupy a lecture theatre when there are lectures scheduled. Lecturers were trying to help further our education whereas they are disrupting our education just because they want a day out.”
When faced with criticism from students the occupiers said that they do not want to annoy people.
The occupation of Logie Lecture Theatre went without any major disruptions. The occupying students have described the occupation as an open protest, saying that anyone can join them or come inside and just ask questions about the occupation. Students who supported and opposed the occupation went inside to talk to the occupying students.
The University and the Student’s Union have been approached for a comment.
Here are some photos from today’s occupation.