At around 4pm this afternoon, the head of security in the Hicks building presented our occupation with a letter from university management announcing that, following our Student Union's condemnation of our action, management would not be conducting any negotiations or discussions with us. The basis of the SU's condemnation was that our action was disruptive to students' education, despite the fact that we have consistently said that we are happy for lectures to take place in our occupied space. Indeed, despite management's attempt to unilaterally relocate all lectures (at significant inconvenience to students), dialogue between the occupation and lecturers succeeded in allowing lectures to take place in their original scheduled locations.
Given university management's intransigence, we are asking all Sheffield students, workers and other supporters of the occupation to send the following model email to Vice Chancellor Keith Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org. CC to email to Rowann Sharples, his personal secretary, at email@example.com, and CC us in at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feel free to amend this text or add your own. You can also ring Rowann Sharples on (0114) 222 1006.
Dear Professor Burnett -
We believe that your position of refusal to engage with the occupiers of the Hicks lecture theatres is entirely unreasonable. The occupation began as a response to your failure to respond to earlier correspondence well before the occupation took place; the onus was on you to continue negotiations and discussions in this manner, and your refusal to do so is what led the occupiers to conclude that direct action was the only option left to them.
Furthermore, the Student Union's statement of condemnation - upon which you base your refusal to negotiate - was predicated entirely on a falsehood. The occupiers have consistently express their willingness for lectures to take place in the occupied space, and indeed have taken it upon themselves to facilitate this despite University management's attempt to unilaterally relocate lectures. The vast majority of students and lecturers who have visited the occupied space have found it a welcoming, non-intimidating environment that would be in no way disruptive to learning and education.
An emergency meeting of the Student Union Executive Officers (which only reached its decision by a majority of 5-3) cannot possibly be held to be meaningfully representative of the wide layers of deeply felt student opinion around this issue. We call on you and other members of the University's senior management to immediately retract your position of refusal to negotiate with the occupiers and enter into open discussions with them.
Additionally we would like to condemn the heavy handed and overblown reaction by the management to the occupation with regard to threats received today in relation to legal action against participants.
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