Cottrell building occupied as part of strike protest

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Students have occupied the main entrance and management offices of the Cottrell building on campus to support striking lecturers.

At eight o’clock last night the protest group gained access to the part of the building and barricaded the doors, and have put up flags and posters showing their support for lecturers and outlining their “demands.”

The group, calling themselves the University of Stirling Solidarity Network (USSN) have issued five demands;

That the Prinicpal of the university, Gerry McCormac, Students’ Union, & the University Administration unconditionally support the strike, that McCormac meet with UCU Stirling and engage in supportive dialogue,
no further loss of pay for strikers, take mental health seriously and fund greater direct support, and lower student rents to a level affordable to all SAAS claimants.

A barricaded door in the Cottrell building Credit: Harry Williamson

The group issued a statement about the occupation on their Facebook page last night,

“At 7:59pm, November 26th, students of the University of Stirling Solidarity Network (USSN) successfully occupied the management building of the University of Stirling. All tactics used were 100% legal, peaceful, and no people nor any items of property were damaged.

“This occupation comes at a time of struggle for both lecturers and students against the poor treatment they have received from the senior management of universities across the UK.

“Lecturers have received real terms pay cuts of 17% in the past ten years. They have faced pay gaps based on gender, disability, and ethnicity. And on top of this all, they have faced insecure working contracts, changes to pensions, and unqualified increases in workload.

“Students have suffered from the rising costs of living amplified by extortionate student accommodation fees. The university’s lack of support for mental health, even in the most serious cases, has only worsened the stresses of these students, and has done nothing for those with severe difficulties.”

Members of the University of Stirling Solidarity Network (USSN) Credit: Harry Williamson

The group have described the occupation as a “last resort” and they hope that the university is willing to engage in a dialogue over their demands.

Members of the group spoke to security staff last night.

Aaron, a 16-year-old member of USSN and occupier said,

“The UCU’s (University and College Union) demands should be met.

“McCormac’s pay rise and his refusal to meet with UCU Stirling shows contempt for the whole thing so direct action is needed.

“Their teaching environment is our learning environment and that must be protected.

“We will be here as long as necessary.”

When asked how he thought the university would react to the occupation Aaron said,

“The actions of the university cannot be commented on by individual students.”

USSN have said that no property will be damaged from the occupation Credit: Harry Williamson

A spokesperson for UCU Stirling said that they have not had a chance to discuss the Cottrell occupation as a branch yet, but they continue to appreciate student support on the picket lines.

This is one of three occupation protests taking place in Scotland, with protests taking place at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Strathclyde.

Two years ago students occupied the Logie Lecture Theatre for two weeks to support that round of UCU strikes.

A University spokesperson said,

“A small group of students have occupied part of the Cottrell Building, as part of a nationally co-ordinated demonstration, with similar actions taking place at universities across the country. We respect the right of students and staff to make their voices heard and our priority is to ensure those in and around the occupied space remain safe. We want to see a sustainable solution to this national dispute over pensions and pay and, in the interim, will do all that we can to ensure there is minimal overall disruption for the University community and to the learning and teaching experience of our students in particular.”

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Freelance award-winning journalist | Best Journalist SPARC Scotland 2021 | Stirling Uni Class of 2021 | Former Deputy Editor - Brig Newspaper | Bylines in The Scottish Sun, The Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser, The Barrhead News, The (Renfrew and Johnstone) Gazette, Brig Newspaper, The Oban Times, Stirling Today and Tales From Lockdown.


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