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University of Cambridge court order ends 9-day Sidgwick occupation

Students walked out chanting slogans at 6:15 pm during a mini-rally

This evening (02/03), students walked out of the lecture block at Sidgwick Site that they had been occupying since last Tuesday (22/02) in solidarity with the UCU strikes. Occupying students were presented with an eviction notice from the University on Monday (28/02).

Students let off a flare upon exiting the building and were greeted by some members of the Cambridge University and College Union (UCU). There was a mini-rally following the de-occupation where attendees sang “solidarity forever,” a popular union anthem.

In a statement today, members of the occupation said they leave the building “invigorated by the care and community we have built, and ready to continue the fight against the marketisation of education with renewed energy.”

Students had previously expressed that they would not leave the building “until their demands (were) met.” Their demands were as follows:

  1. The University of Cambridge commits to negotiating a comprehensive recognition agreement with UCU that includes all categories of staff.
  2. The University makes a public statement calling for local and national UCU demands to be met, including both the Four Fights and USS Pensions, alongside those of UNITE and UNISON.
  3. Students and workers face no disciplinary measures for taking part in peaceful direct action, including the occupation, in support of the strikes.
  4. The University meets the demands of the Justice for College Supervisors campaign, including a pay rise, secure contracts, and paid training for all supervisors.
  5. The University commits to putting continuing pressure on the Colleges to pay the real living wage to all staff.

Image credits: Solidarity College Cambridge

The University has not made any public statements about these demands, nor has it acknowledged any negotiations with the occupiers.

Occupiers said, “The University has chosen to act aggressively, with legal doctrine, rather than engaging in dialogue for us, and so for the safety of our members we have decided to leave the Angela Davis Building.”

Along with holding numerous open-access events, students had also renamed the building to “The Angela Davis Building” and re-instated “Solidarity College.” The occupiers have said these actions constituted a “reimagin(ing) of the university.” They believe they “have created a space of learning, organising, care, and solidarity that will continue after our de-occupation.”

Image credits: Solidarity College Cambridge

In particular, they discussed “the collective running of the space and communisation of the daily tasks”  as “an alternate vision of University, where work is not only confined to the academic, and collective care can be enacted.” They categorised their work as a “defence against the ethos of individualism and competition promoted by the structures of the university.”

The statement continued, “the fight is far from over. Change from the top down is slow to arrive but this action is part of a longer-term movement fighting for a better university. This is not the first occupation in Cambridge and it will not be the last.”

In discussing the multiple ongoing occupations around the UK, occupiers said, “we are united in solidarity, fighting for an education that is free, accessible, radical, and so much more in its possibilities.”

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

The University of Cambridge was contacted for comment.

Feature image credits: Rebekah Treganna