Bristol students move occupation to executive management building in pro-Palestine protest

‘We will occupy until the dog days are over’

The student pro-Palestine occupation of the Victoria Rooms has reached day seven, and at 11am yesterday morning (13 March) the protestors moved locations.

This change of location is to the executive management building at 5 Tyndalls Road where they have been occupying since 12:30pm yesterday.

This change is, in part, due to the fact that over the past six days the only contact the occupiers have had with the university is from the student services head of education, asking for clarification of their demands and if there were any amendments.

The other reason for the move is so that a student concert can still take place this Saturday in the Victoria Rooms. The students told The Bristol Tab: “We don’t want to disrupt students, we want to disrupt management!”

According to the group’s spokesperson Emi, they “haven’t had anyone from the senior team contact us”.

While barriers were erected outside of the entrance to the Victoria Rooms yesterday, students with lectures inside are allowed to enter upon showing their U-Card. Each door of the building currently has security personnel guarding the entrance.

The protestors were contained in the central lobby and students were being directed around the protest to reach the location of their lectures. Open access to the building (one of the demands for the conditions of the occupation) has not been met by the university.

Following their change of location, the protestors said: “The students left the Victoria Rooms at 11am Wednesday morning and took occupation of the executive offices at 12:30pm the same day.

“The occupation was made up of nine students. The occupation was peaceful with the nine students quietly entering the building and taking up residence of the offices in question.

“They intend to remain in said offices until such a time as the university meets their demands. They have received confirmation that Evelyn Welch, vice chancellor of the University of Bristol, has received their open letter which received over 500 signatures.”

Credit: The Bristol Tab

Yesterday (12th March) the organisers sent the open letter with 553 signatures to the vice chancellor and the executive board. The letter contains the demands and an explanation of the university’s link with the ongoing conflict in Israel/Palestine.

A demonstration in support of the occupiers took also place yesterday at 1pm, with attendees showing solidarity with the students inside. On the Bristoloccupy4palestine Instagram, the students inside The Victoria Rooms said: “We could hear you from in here and it’s still spurring us on.”

The social media campaign of the occupation on TikTok and X (Twitter) has boosted the profile of the protest across the country.

Students at Leeds University have also occupied university buildings in support of Palestine, with around 100 people involved. This occupation started on March 7th and is now on day 7.

The campaign has also raised over £700 which they plan on sending to families in Gaza, with £200 already sent to a family living in North Gaza.

There appears to be no sign of the protestors giving up, they seem determined to keep the occupation going until the university complies with demands and “the dog days are over.”

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: “We respect our students’ freedom of speech and right to protest. Our vice chancellor and members of the senior team are always happy to talk with students about their concerns.

“We received the open letter and petition yesterday and have acknowledged receipt of this today along with an offer to discuss this in person once the occupation has ended. We continue to engage with the students taking part to ensure their safety and those of others using the building.

“We recognise the distress and impact on all staff and students at the University of the ongoing violence and conflict in the Middle East. It is more important than ever that we sustain our shared values of mutual respect, support, and compassion for each other, whatever our individual views on the conflict.”

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