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Exclusive: We spoke to the occupiers of the Arts Tower

They said they are ‘sympathetic’ to affected students

With 62 per cent of our readers thinking that the Arts Tower occupation is unjustified, The Tab held a phone interview last night with Cam, one of the 18 students currently occupying the Arts Tower to give him the opportunity to respond to some of the criticism students have expressed.

The most common criticism is that the occupation egregiously harms the interests of students and not the university itself and it is they who will bear the cost of the action.

Cam told us the occupiers are "incredibly sympathetic" to the concerns of students, especially those in the Architecture department whose deadlines have been extended due to the occupation. The occupiers told The Tab that they have been "working tirelessly to smuggle students' work out" throughout the day.

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UCU members rallied outside the Arts Tower today to support the occupation

Cam said that in email correspondence with the university's Estates Management Team, the group had originally secured the ability of students affected by the occupation to be escorted in by one of the occupiers to fetch their work.

However after the first few hours of the occupation, the security services were instructed by Keith Lilley, Director of Estates at the University, that the building was unsafe due to health and safety regulations and that students were not to be allowed to enter the building until further notice.

The occupiers say the health and safety claim is "false" and an attempt to "manipulate architecture students" into believing that the occupiers were preventing them from doing their work. Mr Lilley has been contacted for a statement with regard to these claims.

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Security Services in front of the Arts Tower barricade this morning

In the interview, the occupiers also told The Tab: "The burden is on [University] management" to allow students to retrieve their work from the building and that they plan on staying in the building until the University capitulates to their demands.

Update: The University of Sheffield have released a statement saying they intend to take 'legal steps' to remove the Arts Tower occupiers.