Sit-in students get their way after six-month protest
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Tuesday 16 August 2011
Jubilant students at Glasgow University were celebrating a victory last night after one of the longest sit-ins in British history.
The occupation of a disused building at the university began six months ago in a protest about spending cuts and the closing of a social club for postgraduates.
The students will move out at the end of the month after reaching agreement with the university which they say will ensure no further cuts and a new club, to be opened in the new year.
Their sit-in was supported by a range of people from the world of politics and the arts, including singer/ songwriter Billy Bragg and film director Ken Loach, who joined the students for dinner one evening.
The Hetherington building that they occupied had been earmarked for offices in a university redevelopment scheme at a time when major cuts in courses were being planned.
About 70 students helped mount a round-the clock vigil lasting almost 200 days, despite an abortive early attempt to evict them.
As they contemplated the end of the sit-in, they made it clear it was not the end of student protests.
"While we've achieved a lot on campus this year, the fight absolutely does not end here," said laura Jones, 24. "We will continue our campaign against tuition fees and ensure management keep to their end of the bargain."
James Humphries, also 24, a postgraduate philosophy student, said: "Direct action and direct democracy work,we've proved that and management have accepted it which in itself is an achievement."
The university said: "We are pleased the students who have been occupying the Hetherington building for over six months have decided to bring the occupation to a peaceful conclusion. This will allow the university to redevelop the space for academic use."
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