Updates from the Sidgwick occupation

Activists have ‘renamed’ the building, ‘created’ a new college and are holding open events

Sidgwick’s Lecture Block was occupied by 50 students affiliated with Cambridge Defend Education on Tuesday (22/02) in solidarity with the UCU strikes. Since then, the activists have gotten to work releasing demands, creating a new college, an events schedule and “renaming” buildings and rooms.

Solidarity College

solidaritycollege” is the official Instagram handle for the occupation of Sidgwick’s Lecture Block. It’s also a figurative Cambridge college, created by occupying students to represent an “alternative future of education.” It was set up in 2020 during the Old Schools Occupation.

The college’s crest includes united rainbow arms, a red star, as well as bread and roses. This is most likely a reference to Bread and Roses, a famous quote from Helen Todd’s suffrage speech that has since been converted to verse by James Oppenheim and used as a rallying cry in several strikes.

Students have also “renamed” Lecture Block A to the “Angela Davis Building.” The building had previously been named this in 2006 by activists affiliated with Education Not for Sale.

When asked why they chose to honour Davis, a Solidarity College spokesperson said “Davis is an inspiring revolutionary, abolitionist & activist who has spent her life fighting against systems of oppression. In celebrating her in the name of the occupied building, we aim to express our goal of solidarity, anti-oppression and re-imagining a future of education.”

Rooms inside the building have also been renamed after revolutionary figures and dates: Marx & Engels, Ruth Wilson-Gilmore, Stuart Hall, Lola Olufemi, Audre Lorde, 1917, Lenin, Graeber, 1936, Malcolm X, bell hooks, Malatesta. The gender neutral toilets are called Thatcher & Seeley 1936 Maintenance Cupboard.

Solidarity from UCU

The occupation stands in solidarity with Cambridge UCU (University and College Union), and the union have been vocal about their support for the student occupation.

On Tuesday, they coordinated a solidarity mass picket outside Lecture Block A. They’ve also since changed their display picture to a picture of the occupation, and have regularly tweeted updates from the occupation.

Visit the Occupation

Activists have allowed students to enter “The Angela Davis Building,” asking for their “snacks and thoughts.” On Wednesday (23/02), they held three open-access events: a general study space, a banner-making event and a a session run by End Everyday Racism

End Everyday Racism is independent research project developed by Dr Ella McPherson and Dr Mónica Moreno Figueroa from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Sociology.

The Tab understands that more such events are likely to follow in the coming days. Students are welcome in the building from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and are also welcome to stay overnight in the building and join in the occupation.

The University of Cambridge has been contacted for comment.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available. 

Feature Image Credits: Cambridge Defend Education