Pro-Palestine students end occupation of Bristol Uni management building after four weeks

The occupation ended due to ‘the issuance of a possession order and setting of a court date’


The pro-Palestine student occupation of Bristol University’s executive management building came to an end yesterday (4th April) after four weeks.

The occupation against “the university’s complicity in the genocide in Gaza” ended after the students, belonging to the group Bristol Students Occupy for Palestine, were served a possession order by the university on Wednesday (3rd April) and informed that a court date had been set.

The occupation caused ‘disruption to university business’ (image via Bristol Students Occupy for Palestine)

This comes after another pro-Palestine student group ended their occupation of the Wills Memorial Great Hall last week “following continued threats of police involvement and a court order from the university”.

In a statement made today on social media, Bristol Students Occupy for Palestine claimed that “the vice-chancellor has quietly labelled the occupation immature” and “has frequently ignored and put off attempts of correspondence and discussion initiated by both the occupiers and other staff and student groups with similar goals”.

An in-person meeting is now due to take place between the vice-chancellor, Professor Evelyn Welch, and the occupiers on April 8th, where their demands will be discussed.

The demands they presented to the vice-chancellor at the beginning of the occupation included calling for an immediate ceasefire, cutting ties with arms companies complicit in Israel’s attacks, and immediately ending the requirement for students to use the Check-In app.

Despite the occupation ending before their demands were met, the group has vowed that “the end of the occupation is not the end of the fight”.

Speaking to The Bristol Tab, Bristol Students Occupy for Palestine added: “It is regrettable and deeply disappointing that the university ordained to take legal action against its conscientious and exceedingly brave students rather than engage in ongoing discussion with the occupiers.

“This is especially shocking given that the occupiers had been reassured repeatedly by security staff, cleaning staff and members of the University Executive Board (including the vice-chancellor herself) that they had been continually acting cordially and courteously towards staff members and had been complying with requests made of them.

“For the University Executive Board (UEB) to engage in only one meeting with the occupiers over the course of 28 days of occupation is shameful, and we believe it perfectly demonstrates their lack of regard for the genuine concerns of the student body around the genocide of Palestinians. There has been no assurance that the notes from this meeting have been communicated to the UEB.”

The occupation of the executive management building at 5 Tyndall Avenue began on March 13th after the protestors moved from their previous location of The Victoria Rooms, which they had occupied for six days.

The occupation began on March 8th in The Victoria Rooms

This change in location occurred as a result of the university’s senior management team failing to make any contact with the protesters and due to the group’s desire to minimise their impact on students.

The occupation carried out by students at Bristol University is one of several that have taken place at universities throughout the world over the past month, with many still ongoing.

Following the conclusion of the occupation, a University of Bristol spokesperson said: “We have a responsibility to consider the potential impact that this almost month-long occupation could be having in terms of these students’ education, learning, and overall health and wellbeing. In addition, there has been ongoing disruption to university business with the closure of the building.

“We felt we had no other option but to begin legal proceedings to require them to leave the building which the occupiers were informed of on Wednesday. This was not a decision we took lightly, and we are pleased that the students have decided to end their occupation.

“We fully respect the rights of our students to peacefully protest within the law and we are always willing to engage with them to discuss any concerns. As such, we have offered assurances to those involved that they will not be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

“Open discussion and debate are an important part of university life and the Vice-Chancellor had offered several times to meet with this group to discuss their specific points in person once they ended their protest. A meeting has been arranged for next week.”

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Pro-Palestine students end occupation of Wills after Bristol Uni threatens legal action

Exclusive: Bristol students camp overnight in Victoria Rooms in pro-Palestine protest

Students occupy Victoria Rooms protesting Bristol University’s ‘complicity in genocide’