Les Said About Occupation The Better For VC

The occupation was not entirely peaceful and caused £50,000 worth of damage, according to the Vice-Chancellor.

Borysiewicz Cambridge University CamDefendEd charlie gilmour Gordon pal occupation Old Schools sit-in student protest vice-chancellor

Vice-Chancellor Leszek Borysiewicz has taken a shot at the students who occupied the Old Schools last month, suggesting that their protest was counter-productive and costly.

In an accusatory statement the VC said the occupation had not been entirely peaceful and claimed that the occupiers has cost the university £50,000.

The relationship between Borysiewicz and the demonstrators has been frosty at best. At one point during the occupation there was a noise protest aimed at his offices, and a banner outside the building screamed “TIME’S UP LESZEK”.

Now the VC has spoken out against the demonstrators’ methods, describing the occupation as “illegal” and explaining that he was unwilling to engage with anyone “under threat”.

In the statement Borysiewicz:

claims that “the conditions they [the occupiers] imposed did not allow for open dialogue or debate”.

explains that he could not “engage, under threat, with members of the University breaking University regulations and the law of the land”

contradicts the occupiers’ claims that they were peaceful and non-violent, stating that in his view “this has not been entirely the case”.  He goes on to say that “The occupiers risked injury to themselves and to others”, describing how “fire doors were padlocked shut”.

accuses the occupation of causing damage which has “exceeded £50,000, and indirect costs, which are currently being estimated, [and] are likely to be far in excess of that sum”.

The morning after the occupation ended, the Vice-Chancellor met a delegation of three students, as he had promised to do in an earlier statement.

Yesterday’s intervention from Borysiewicz is the first instance of a senior University figure expressing an official stance on the occupation.  A statement released on the day of the vote in the Commons last week failed to give any new details of the Council’s view.

The statement is a blow to those Cambridge students protesting against cuts and increased fees, after their participation in last week’s march in London was overshadowed by the antics of Girtonian Charlie Gilmour.

Read the full statement here.