Students handed two-month suspension for padlocking fire doors during strikes

They won’t be able to sit exams or submit coursework

A group students have been given an eight-week suspension by the University of Stirling for padlocking fire doors while occupying a university building.

During the UCU strikes last year, the group barricaded themselves inside the University’s management building “primarily in support of the UCU strikers but also over grievances over mental health provision and housing conditions on campus.”

According to the University, occupiers “caused a serious and prolonged breach of fire safety regulations” by padlocking several fire doors during the protest.

An email seen by The Tab confirms the two-month suspension means members of the group “will not be permitted to study at the University,” and “will not be able to submit assignments or participate in examinations.”

“We were able to force the management around the table but unfortunately no meaningful concessions were gained,” a member of the group told The Tab.

“Since then we waited about two months for the results of the uni investigation into our conduct.

“We received and email yesterday which said we were all suspended for 2 months, in which we would not be able to access the campus, we would be unable to study or submit any work.”

Students have claimed they are at risk of being evicted from the university and will be unable to access student support services. In a comment to The Tab, the University categorically denied this is the case.

Another student who claims not to have been involved with the construction of the barricades told The Tab: “The university has lumped all of us into one box when it came to the result of the discipline.

“The suspension effectively isolates us from social aspects of student life, as well meaning we are not allowed to submit our work.”

In a Facebook post, the group says they deconstructed the barricades “after discussions with University management,” and branded the decision to pursue disciplinary action “a lack of respect.”

In December, students received disciplinary letters that stated their actions may amount to offences in breach of the university’s code of conduct.

The students say this is a blatant attempt to “silence any criticism” instead of attempting to “make the university a better place”.

On Twitter, Cambridge UCU said they “condemn” the University of Stirling’s decision to “suspend students for standing up for staff on strike.”

A petition in support of the strikers was started yesterday and has gained over 1,300 signatures.

A spokesperson for the University said: “The University respects the rights of students to make their voices heard; however, this must be done safely and in accordance with fire – and health and safety – legislation, as well as University regulations.

“During the occupation several fire doors were padlocked. This caused a serious and prolonged breach of fire safety regulations, resulting in a risk to the health and safety of students and staff, including the protestors themselves.

“The safety and wellbeing of our University community is of paramount importance, and the fire risk posed has been a central consideration during the disciplinary process. While that process and any appeals continue, no students involved are required to vacate University accommodation.”

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