A group of PhD students are occupying CMB to protest lack of working space
‘We want to have our voices heard’
A group of PhD students are occupying the Chrystal Macmillan Building to protest lack of working space.
A tweet from Lukas Slothuus, one of the PhD students, read: "We're PhD students at EdinburghUni organising to defend and extend our work and community spaces and push for democratic control and decision-making.
"We're staging a 'work-in' to show what the life of a precarious PhD will soon look like if the uni gets its way!'"
We’re PhD students at @EdinburghUni organising to defend & extend our work and community spaces and to push for democratic control and decision-making. We’re staging a ‘work-in’ to show what the life of a precarious PhD will soon look like if the uni gets its way! #phdprecarity pic.twitter.com/uVrxADnXTY
— Lukas Slothuus (@lslothuus) December 10, 2019
Postgraduate students, who also have the roles of tutoring undergrads and assisting with research, have expressed concern about the deterioration of their working conditions. Their participation in the 'work-in' is motivated by this.
"We are outraged"
Organisers of the campaign told The Edinburgh Tab "On Tuesday 10th December, over 30 postgraduate research students from the SPS school staged a 'work-in' in the CMB."
"We are outraged at the lack of inbolvement of the PGY community in any decision-making concerning our spae. No conversations about student's needs and the new plans had taken place prior to the decision being communicated to us in Septmeber."
"We fundamentally disagree with the undemocratic process"
Organisers told The Edinburgh Tab that they fundamentally disagree with what they feel is an 'undemocratic process' of decision making by the management of their school.
"The proposed reduction of PGR hot-desking space based on a top down interpretation of our needs."
"The monitoring of our card and netword data is totally unnacaptable, and does not provide a sufficient justification for a reduction of space."
What do these students want moving forward?
The students staging the work-in want to be able to keep their space in the Chrystal Macmillan Building, or to be offered an equal or better space.
They want "to make a long-term commitment to improve work and community space provision as student numbers and needs increase."
"To democratise decision-making accross the school, making it transparent and inclusive of students at all levels."
"To extend democratic control of our work – and community spaces to us."
#PhDprecarity is @uoessps management using anonymised room access and internet use data to claim that we are not using our space „effectively“ and refusing to release its methodology. A great example of social and political science!
— larissa nenning (@LNenning) December 10, 2019
The response from management has been "underwhelming"
The group circled a petition amongst SPS PRGs, which gained over 160 signuatures in just a few days.
"When we presented this to SPS Management, however, their response was underwhelming: for them, this is a question of desk numbers and the 'efficient' use of space."
"We are still waiting for a response to our key demands, and undertook the 'work-in' action to ensure that we get the democratic forum we've requested to discuss space needs, and that no further changes are pushed through over the winter break without our consultation."
How have SPS management responded?
SPS management have responded to this action by agreeing to move a meeting, to a time where move student will be able to attend and voice their concers, and have stated that 'nothing is set in stone' regarding the movement of study spaces.
In response to this the organisers of the campaign told the Edinburgh Tab that "our key demands still stand, however, as the School has offered no formal response regarding how they collected data about PGR space usage and has not yet made any official guarentee regarding future soace provisions."
— Cat Wayland (@cat_wayland) December 10, 2019
The university has been approached for comment.