Coates Road Auditorium is being occupied by a group of Notts students
They’re getting a DJ down if they’re still there by Thursday
A group of students from Nottingham Student Solidarity are occupying Coates Road Auditorium, one of the university’s largest lecture theatres. This follows their last occupation which saw the Vice-Chancellor’s corridor blocked in the Trent building and a DJ invited to hold a “rave”.
Their occupation, which began at 6PM on Monday 9th March, comes in support of the UCU’s strikes, which are due to end Friday if an agreement is not made before the week’s end.
The Nottingham Tab joined the rotating group of 15 occupiers in Coates to find out more about the occupation and their aims.
There are no further demands from the students this time around. Instead, they are “more focused” on the demands laid out by the UCU.
Sam, a 20-year-old student, said, “we are trying to boost morale on the picket lines and make students aware what is going on in the university and how detrimental it is to the lecturers.”
While occupying, the students are putting on a variety of events. Striking lecturers are hosting “teach-ins” on topics they are passionate about, such as the climate and social justice; the students are having movie nights. Tonight, Tuesday, they are screening Pride.
The students are warm to the idea of fellow students joining them. They encourage it and want to see students turn out to join the occupation and support striking lecturers.
The students are in high spirits, playing games, taking photos and using the plugs under the desks to boil the kettle to make tea.
More generally, the whole process has been relaxed. Joel, a 20-year-old student who has been present since the start of the occupation, said there was no resistance to the students entering the building; no security was present. As the group were putting up their signs and flags, Joel reports, “security walked past and they were basically like… great. Guess that happened then.”
This evening we occupied Coates Road Auditorium in solidarity with the ongoing UCU strike.
Staff working conditions are OUR LEARNING CONDITIONS!
— Nottingham Student Solidarity (@uonsolidarity) March 9, 2020
The choice to occupy Coates Road Auditorium comes due to three reasons, say the strikers.
Firstly, it is not possible to re-occupy the Vice-Chancellor’s corridor, as they did back in December; the Trent building has been on tight lockdown by the university’s security team since the beginning of the UCU strikes, out of fear that the Nottingham Student Solidarity group may attempt to shut down again.
The group were indifferent about the lockdown on Trent, and are happy occupying Coates. One added that “the security team is doing our job for us.”
Secondly, Coates Road Auditorium has few doors, making it easy to monitor.
Finally, a large number of lectures would have otherwise continued to happen in Coates. Their relocation helps to bring awareness to the issue; a number of students have dropped in out of curiosity.
Nadia Whittome, the MP for Nottingham East and UoN grad, tweeted in support of the student’s actions.
Solidarity with students and teachers! Brilliant that you're taking direct action.
— Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) March 9, 2020
Jessica, 22, studying for an MA in Philosophy, urges her fellow students not to be angry at them or lecturers. This anger is “misdirected” she says. Instead, she feels the anger “should be pointed at the university’s management” who, she says, “don’t value” the staff, not rewarding them fairly for their work, which has caused them to strike.
The occupation is slated to continue until Friday when the UCU strike is also scheduled to end. However, the students plan to go out on a high: on Thursday night, there will be a DJ (once again).
UoN told The Nottingham Tab they planned to ignore the occupiers’ demands. A spokesperson said: “A small group of students have occupied the Coates Auditorium and we are arranging for classes to be taught at alternate locations.
“While we will facilitate peaceful and respectful protest, we will not be negotiating or considering any demands from unofficial protest groups.
“This is a national dispute and negotiations are continuing between the nationally-recognised parties in the dispute – UUK, UCEA and UCU.”