Four protesters who had been engaged in an occupation at the University of Ulster’s Coleraine campus left last night after being served with an eviction notice.
Their decision follows protesters’ accusations that university management had turned off the room’s heating supply, cut off their access to water, food and electricity on Wednesday morning and denied protestors access to toilet facilities.
‘Occupy Coleraine’ occupied Coleraine’s Senior Common Room from December 2claiming the space was being repurposed as a “corporate dining room” – an accusation Ulster university denies.
The campaign attracted approximately 160 participants, but at 6.30pm yesterday evening, December 19, the four remaining occupiers left the common room. They were met by between 25-30 people, who had gathered in a display of solidarity.
Speaking on behalf of ‘Occupy Coleraine’, final year University of Ulster student Chloë Gault expressed her belief that the group had emerged from their campaign victorious: "We feel it is a victory as the Visitor is coming to investigate the Senior Common Room issue. We have opened a channel of discourse with management, which for us is a victory: to be able to relay the issues that 'Occupy Coleraine' is all about!"
Mark Bell, President of the UUSU, had offered his commendations to all those involved in the occupation, as part of a demonstration organised outside the common room in support of the campaign on Wednesday night, stating, “What we see happening today, where we see students and staff up there with no toilet facilities, electricity, basic human needs, is just unacceptable. I think it’s a very good example of something that the university should say, ‘Right, okay, enough is enough, conditions for these students are just not acceptable and we need to start speaking to them’.”
The campaign attracted the support of trade unions such as Unite and Socialist Youth Northern Ireland’s Neil Moore and Unite’s Susan Fitzgerald.
A University of Ulster spokesperson said: "The University welcomes the end of the sit-in at the former Senior Common Room at our Coleraine campus. We will now move forward with the substantial improvement works which will deliver a new range of modern, high-quality facilities for staff and students on the campus."Reuse content