We need to admit that the occupation of the Arts Tower is a step too far
It’s just a point scoring operation
As everyone is probably aware, staff at the University of Sheffield and many universities from across the country have been striking over changes to their pensions. The body responsible for these changes have recently offered some concessions, which strikers deemed to be unsatisfactory and so chose to reject.
I’m not against these strikers or their right to strike for better conditions. Many lecturers who I know to be amazing people and who care deeply about their students have thought it necessary to strike. What I am not okay with however is the supposed solidarity movement “Sheffield Student Worker Solidarity” who are acting in association with the laughably named “Free University of Sheffield” who have organised the recent occupation of the Arts Tower.
Students should not be deceived, this movement is using the legitimate concerns of staff members as a cover for their own political grievances and point scoring.
Just look at some of the ridiculous demands that they are making. For example, what has accommodation rent or a 5:1 pay ratio between the highest and lowest paid staff at the university got to do with these strikes over staff pensions? The worst part however is not their duplicitous approach to it all, but the negative effect they have on students and staff.
Firstly, their occupation has harmed and devalued the legitimate grievances of striking staff by helping to turn public opinion against them. Secondly there is the issue of the occupiers’ intimidation and bullying tactics. Any student brave enough to attempt to go in was informed by the occupiers that they could only enter in “small numbers and under escort” and any staff who were meant to be working in the building received the message that the occupiers would “enforce the picket line”. I would love to know exactly what this is supposed to mean. It certainly sounds ominous to me.
Fortunately, the university authorities have posted security at the arts tower entrances and cancelled all university activities set to go on in the building, and thus prevented anyone from having to find out how the occupiers planned to “enforce the picket line”. The impact on students remains however, with the work of architecture students especially being severely disrupted. My question to these occupiers is this: when will you give up, go home and let people get on with their studies? My message to students is this, regardless of whether you support strikers or not, please do not give these occupiers your support.