THE University of Sheffield has been granted a court order to remove 19 students who have been occupying a lecture theatre for more than a week.
The ‘Free University of Sheffield’ began the sit-in at the Richard Roberts Auditorium in protest at paid-for education. A possession order was granted by a judge at Sheffield County Court on Tuesday. A spokesperson for the University of Sheffield said: ‘We look forward to the occupation coming to an end very soon.’
The group’s Twitter page, @freeunisheff, said it is ‘fighting for free, non-hierarchical, directly democratic education.’ The university said in a statement it understood the ‘increasing marketisation of higher education is rightly an issue very close to the hearts of many of its staff and students …
‘The University recognises the commitment of the occupiers to peaceful protest, however cannot condone occupation of a building that could cause disruption to our staff and students.’
The Official Statement on the Court Injunction by the occupation reads: ‘Sheffield University Occupation has been served with a court injunction which constitutes an attack on the right to protest. The injunction, obtained by the University management, has placed a one-year ban on all protests on University property (which could potentially include picket lines and campaign stalls) that have not been given written permission from the University.
‘It is of course extremely unlikely that they would grant permission for any protest criticising the University over cuts, fees and education reform, hence this constitutes an effective ban on all protest at the University of which management does not approve.
‘This will affect all groups and societies at the University, as well as lecturers and support staff picketing on days of strike action. The University management has furthermore broken off all official communication with the Occupation, refusing to consider any of our demands.
‘We are still entirely open to negotiations with management, but we will not be intimidated by threats of forcible eviction. The University is threatening our imminent forcible removal, and we need as many people as possible here in order to peacefully resist!
‘This is an escalation of management’s tactics, which began with the unnecessary cancellation of all lectures in the Arts Tower by University management (when we have specifically made clear that any disruption to education is NOT our aim).
‘It is in the interests of all students and workers to resist these attacks on our rights, and we call upon all groups and individuals affected to give full support to our ongoing legal appeal. We can be contacted at the Occupied Space, Arts Tower Lecture Theatre 4, or email@example.com.’