Senate House occupiers talking with Hugh Brady after staying overnight

A group of students who occupied the fifth floor of Senate House are understood to be talking with Vice-Chancellor Hugh Brady, after having slept there overnight.

Members of the Student-Staff Solidarity group entered and occupied the fifth floor of Senate House, where Vice-Chancellor Hugh Brady's office is, at around 7.20AM yesterday (Monday). The action is said to have been in support of the ongoing UCU strikes.

Having had no updates about the Vice-Chancellor at 3PM, by 7PM they were able to confirm to Epigram that they would be allowed to speak with Brady at 10AM today. It is understood that they are currently meeting him.

One of the occupiers gives a tour of Senate House's fifthh floor, where they have stayed overnight (Facebook / Bristol Student-Staff Solidarity)

The group are occupying Senate House to present Hugh Brady with a list of demands. These demands are as follows:

1.Hugh Brady openly supports striking staff and the UCU in their position against the UUK, and openly disclaims the projection of deficit for the USS scheme

2.Staff taking part in action short of a strike and working to contract are not deducted pay at a rate of 25% as is currently proposed, as we see this as legalised theft and undermines the sacrifices made through strike action.

3.The management of Bristol University resolves to become more transparent and accountable to both staff and students, without whom the university would not function and they would not have their own pension pots or extortionate salaries.

4.We demand that the University of Bristol open up our occupation, allowing students to freely join as would only be fair as this is a peaceful form of protest.

5.We demand that these efforts through occupation be taken seriously and there be no retrospective and tenuous disciplinary processes as have been seen at other recent occupations around the country.

Having woken up, the occupiers get ready to speak with the Vice-Chancellor (Facebook / Bristol Student-Staff Solidarity)

Ruth Day, a member of Student-Staff Solidarity, yesterday told Epigram that they spent the day 'having meetings, creating our own space up here,and trying to reach out to get the momentum behind our occupation!'.

There is an on-site security member, and Bristol UCU are understood to have provided supplies so they do not go hungry.

Luke Tyers, an occupier from the Bristol Student-Staff Solidarity group, told Epigram: 'The UCU stood in solidarity with students in 2009 and members of the current UCU were involved in the 2009 occupation of this very same building. It has been too easy for Hugh Brady to ignore his workers and bully other divisions of the university workforce into taking an unfair deal.

'The attitude is shocking amongst management and we can no longer allow them to get away with ignoring the demands of the workers, with nothing but empty statements in response. We will force a free and open discussion where we push our demands openly onto Hugh Brady.'

This occupation is not an official event of the Student-Staff Solidarity group. A spokesperson for the group told Epigram that some members decided independently to carry out this action, and that staff did not know this was to take place.

It has also been a closed occupation, meaning that security are not allowing people in, but are allowing people out.

A university spokesperson said: 'A group of Bristol students are currently holding a peaceful protest on the fifth floor of Senate House in support of staff who are taking part in national industrial action over plans by Universities UK to reform the USS pension scheme.

'The university is proud of its staff and students, and respects the right of students to make their voice heard on this important issue.

'We have welcomed the students to stay in Senate House, where they are safe and comfortable, with access to kitchen and bathroom facilities, and have allowed them to hang banners from the building.'

Featured Image: Facebook / Bristol Student-Staff Solidarity

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