Strikers organise ‘teach-outs’ at picket lines

Topics covered included labour history, indigenous resistance, and coloniality

On Thursday 2nd December and Friday 3rd December, UCU strikers staged three teach-outs at major picket lines across the university. The topics covered were ‘Labour History and Revolutions’ (Old Schools picket line, Thursday), ‘Indigenous Resistance Politics in North America’ (Downing Site picket line, Friday), and ‘All Statues Must Fall: Coloniality and the Academy’ (Sidgwick Site picket line, Friday).

Teach-outs take place in the open and offer opportunities for free, collaborative learning and discussion on topics that aren’t covered by the university syllabus. At the Sidgwick Site on Friday morning, the teach-out was accompanied by drumming, solidarity songs, and slogans. Several vehicles passing by honked in support of the picketers and their placards.

Drum circle at Sidgwick Site teach-out (Image Credit: Inika Murkumbi)

Participants at the teach-outs included a mix of undergraduates, postgraduates, and university teaching and non-teaching staff.

Nuvpreet Kalra, the third-year HSPS student leading the ‘All Statues Must Fall’ teach-out, told the Tab that she “wanted… to discuss knowledge production, statues and memorialisation.” She hoped this conversation would inform “the campaign to rename the Seeley library and wider discussions of coloniality at the university.” This teach-out was organised in collaboration with the Rename Seeley Campaign.

Nuvpreet added that she is involved with Cambridge Defend Education (CDE) and had also supported the strikes by offering tea and coffee to picketers. She urged students to follow CDE on social media, stating that involvement with the strikes was “an amazing way to show solidarity to staff fighting pension cuts, casualisation, unfair workloads and pay cuts.”

On the importance of the teach-out format, she shared: “Collective teaching and learning is so important and challenges the way we are taught to value education and knowledge production.”

When approached for comment, the University of Cambridge communications team shared statements by university spokespeople that stated that “We will continue to work with our unions and other institutions where necessary to address institutional pay gaps and issues relating to working conditions” and that “There are currently no plans to change the name of the Seeley Library.”

Feature Image Credit: Inika Murkumbi