Thursday, 26 March 2009

The decision to end the occupation

The occupation of the exhibition space of the new Jessop building ended when the occupiers came out to a lively rally in support of the people of Gaza and the student occupation. The decision to end the occupation was taken by the occupiers collectively after talks started between the university and various student groups such as Palestine society of which many members have been a part of the occupation.

These talks revealed that movement will be made on some of the demands. The University has offered to support the transportation costs of charitable donations to Gaza. It has also issued a statement concerning the recent conflict in Gaza that can be found here: The University further promised to review their scholarship programme, consider an academic partnership with the Islamic University of Gaza and publicise the DEC appeal in some format. Details of these commitments are unclear and in light of this the occupiers have agreed that if the University goes back on the commitments it has made or does not adequately pursue them more action will be taken.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

This Mornings 'Roundtable' Discussions

Today a group of students representing the Islamic circle, Palestine Society and the Black Students Committee meet with pro-vice chancellor Paul White in the student’s union. The meeting was held after students from Sheffield University have occupied university buildings for more than a week. The fact that the Occupiers were not represented is very unfortunate, and furthermore, undermines the strength of the movement for an acceptable university policy on Palestine. It is clear that these talks would not have taken place were it not for the occupation, given that the university ignored our previous requests for a meeting and that demands have not been met at any university where an occupation has not taken place.

The fact that the occupation was not represented also meant that demands could not be discussed in the context of an ongoing occupation, and that the bargaining chip was effectively taken off the table. The so called “roundtable discussions” were an opportunity for the university to show itself in a good light, seemingly willing to discuss issues that they blankly ignored a week ago.

The pro vice chancellor did, on behalf of the university promise to bring the concerns raised in the discussion back to the Vice chancellor and open up for talks on several of the demands. He promised to make the case to the VC that the university should align itself with the already existing Union policy on Palestine, and state that the university deplores any aggression against educational institutions. The issue of scholarships will also be raised together with the possibility of the university funding the transport cost of sending equipment such as old books and computer to the occupied territories.
The University is currently entering into a program of corporate social responsibility, and the group responsible for this is having their first meeting tomorrow. Paul White stated that he would try to get the issue of the university twinning with the Islamic University of Gaza on the Agenda.

Due to pro-vice chancellor White’s lack of knowledge around the issue of the arms trade this particular demand could not be addressed properly. However he was notified of the fact that the groups in the meeting could not accept his grounds for not making political statements, when taking the decision to work with arms companies is of a highly political nature.

The Occupiers would like to make it clear that we welcome the commitments to address the issues we have raised. However, if the promises made are empty more direct action will be taken.

The University continues to disrupt education

Following the University's decision to negotiate with some students (although not the occupiers) about the demands, the decision was taken yesterday to end the occupation of the two lecture theatres in the Hicks Building. The occupation of the Jessop West Exhibition Space continues, with those inside well aware that these negotiations are only taking place because of their dedication and willingness to force the University to talk to its students.

At around 2.30pm the Hick's building was vacated, and every effort was made by the departing occupiers to leave the space as it was found. Everything brought into the building by the occupiers was removed, and both lecture theatres were cleaned and hoovered. Nonetheless, The University continues to portray this occupation as disrupting education, even after it has ended. No lectures or seminars are taking place in lecture theatres 5 and 6 today, and they remain closed. A member of the academic staff at the University, due to teach in the previously occupied space this morning was not permitted to do so even though they could clearly see that the rooms were fit for purpose.

Throughout the occupation University managaement has accused the occupiers of disrupting education. This is quite clearly not the case.

A rally is being held today in support of the occupation's demands and all are thoroughly welcome to join us in urging the University to bring the negotiations to a satisfying conclusion.


With the University still refusing to negotiate with the occupiers, and coming down heavier on them every minute (police were called last night but found we were commiting no criminal offence), we shall be holding a rally in support of the demands, and urging the university to negotiate and act fairly. This will start on the Union concourse at 3pm and make its way to the occupied Jessops West Exhibition Centre where a set of speakers will speak.

Please come and show your support.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Press Release: Occupation Spreads to Jessop West!!!

The following press release was sent out tonight by the occupiers in Jessop West, remember to send solidarity and feel free to visit us in the exhibition centre at any time:

23rd March 2009

Sheffield University Occupiers: Occupation Spreads to Jessop West!

The Occupiers in the University of Sheffield have occupied a new space within the University, namely the exhibition centre in Jessop West, a brand new, flagship building for the university. As the time of press, the original occupation in the Hicks building continues throughout the night. Our reasons for expanding the occupation are as follows:

- Threats from the University management to evict students and workers from the original space.
- A complete lockdown was instigated, denying free movement for Occupiers and supporters.
- To increase pressure on University management after they went back on a promise to negotiate with the Occupiers.
- Throughout the occupation, the management had accused the Occupiers of disrupting students’ education, and as a result, those involved have occupied a new space in which no lectures and seminars take place. This serves to demonstrate our continuing commitment to not disrupting students’ education.

Furthermore, we feel an important point about the new space we have occupied has to be made. Our demands include a call for the university to donate resources to Gazan educational institutions, and to fund scholarships for Palestinian students, who are some of the poorest in the world, and whose universities have been devastated by the recent Israeli onslaught. We feel fulfilling these demands would be a much better use of resources - which include students’ fees - than the £21 million development that is the new Jessop complex. As previously mentioned, the development contains little or no teaching space, and as such is of little use to University of Sheffield students and/or teaching staff.

This move marks over a week in occupation where our numbers have risen to as high as 100 people. Today, on the seventh day of the occupation, meetings attracted over 50 people in spite of the fact that the building was on full lockdown.

Whilst university management continue to exclude the Occupiers from negotiations, relationships with university staff remain friendly, and the occupation remains peaceful, strong and positive. Messages of support and solidarity continue to pour in from fellow occupiers around the country, fellow students, Members of Parliament, other activist groups from inside and outside the university, and university staff and lecturers. The occupation has hosted a range of events and will continue to do so - discussions, guest lectures, talks and film showings - which all supporters are welcome to attend.

The Palestine Society, the University of Sheffield Islamic Circle, the Black Students Committee and the Jewish Society have all been invited to take part in the proposed negotiations with the University management - all of whom oppose the University’s decision to exclude the Occupiers from the negotiation process. As the demands were not drawn up by any of these groups, and they have no means of putting pressure on the university other than via the occupation, we see little chance of progress being made on this issue until members of the occupation are invited to participate in these talks.

Our demands remain thus:

As student activists and members of the University of Sheffield community, we call on the university to:

1) Issue a statement condemning the disproportionate actions of the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.
2) Create a special programme of five Palestinian scholarships and waive all fees for current students from the occupied territories.
3) Enter into an academic partnership with the University of Gaza.
4) Donate old books, computers and other relevant equipment to the University of Gaza, and pay for the transport of these materials.
5) Publicise the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal on Sheffield University notice boards, website and via email.
6) Initiate a programme in partnership with students of divestment and ending links with the arms trade.
7) Allow those studying medicine to carry out their electives in the occupied territories of Palestine.
8) Commemorate the United Nations Palestine Solidarity Day on November 29th.
9) Echo the Occupation's statement of support with Israeli students who have been imprisoned for refusing to serve in the IDF.

We have taken this action because we believe our university should be run democratically from below by students and staff, and not in the interests of corporate profiteering. Because of this belief, we express our solidarity with university workers and demand:

10)That they face no cuts in jobs, wages or conditions.

We further demand

11) That participants in, or supporters of, the occupation face no repercussions.

We will continue our occupation until our demands are met, or meaningful negotiations on our demands begin.

Yours -
The Sheffield Occupiers.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Bombard Burnett... again!

We are asking our supporters to send the following model email (or an adapted version of it) to Vice Chancellor Keith Burnett at to put some pressure on him to open up negotiations with us! Copy your emails to us at, and to Burnett's secretary at


Professor Burnett -

I understand that, despite a verbal agreement from yourself, negotiations involving the student occupiers and other interested parties are yet to take place. I further understand that the proposed negotiation process, if it takes place at all, will take place without input from the occupiers.

I believe that a negotiation process centrally involving the occupiers (as well as other relevant organisations such as the Palestine Society) is in the interests of all involved, as it is clearly the only way to move the situation forward towards a satisfactory conclusion.

I therefore call on you to listen to the increasing student pressure (on campus and elsewhere) for negotiations around the campaign demands.


Part 2 - the awkward sequel

Following University management's attempts to secure an eviction order against the occupation of the Hicks Building Lecture Theatres the occupying collective elected to relocate to the University's nice, shiny exhibition space in Jessops West. The demands of the occupying collective remain the same, as does their commitment to negotiate a de-escalation of the action with University management and their determination to see such a positive resolution. The VC has as of yet not fulfilled his commitment to meet with interested parties (The Palestine Society, Islamic Circle, Union Officers and Jewish Society) to discuss constructive ways of implementing the occupying collectives demands. We are dismayed that the VC appears flagging on his prior commitments on this issue. Similarly we are disapointed by the effective exclusion of the occupation from this process given the VC's verbal commitment for inclusion in this process which his staff have subsequently reversed.
The planned events for this afternoon and evening have continued with a 4:30 talk on "Palestine Past and Present" and an expected film showing. We endeavour to keep a friendly and respectful relationship with University staff.

Jessops West Exhibition Centre Occupied

Students locked out of the Hicks occupation organised today and began a second occupation at Sheffield University in the new Jessops West building at 4pm.

We are occupying with exactly the same demands, and have selected this building for its token status as the University's progress towards top-down management decisions. It has received wide praise for its innovative and environmental design, but at the same time received nothing but bad reviews from those academics and students who actually use the building. The open-plan offices, lack of teaching and storage space and lighting that causes migraines are all things that make the building unfit for anything other than administrative office space. Listening to what staff and students need seems to take second place to design awards and style. What's more it will not give management the excuse to move lectures.

An update from the group in Jessops will come soon once they've established themselves and sorted out issues with Security.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

UPDATE on Events Going on THIS WEEK

We still haven't heard anything from anyone regarding our status in the negotiations. However we're still planing to go ahead with events over the coming week.

On Monday we'll be having a talk on Palestine Past and Present at 4:30pm, followed by a bit of a discussion and then a choice of films to watch (Occupation 101, Waltz With Bashir among others to choose from).

On Tuesday we're inviting students from across the country to talk on occupations held at their Universities, their successes and some of the problems they faced. Again this'll be at 4:30opm.

Then on Wednesday we're planning a rally on the concourse at 3pm to build support, followed by speakers from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice, and other speakers.

Solidarity with the People of Palestine

Update on Negotiations Situation

We noticed earlier this morning that Matt Fox, the Union Activities Officer, had posted on his Blog an email from the Vice Chancellor. This email was not forwarded to the Occupation's email which the VC's office had previously used to contact us.

The email essentially contradicts the information we had previously been given by Fiona the Womens' officer. We had been told that, during meetings with the VC, she had been given confirmation that delegates from the occupation would be involved. Below is the email we received, to which we replied with a list of 4 delegates names at 13:43.

The University have asked for us to provide a list of names for the delegation to the initial negotiating meeting.

15 delegates can come to represent the Palestine solidarity movement of campus. The Islamic Circle, the Palestine Society and the occupiers each have 4. The Students' Union has 3.

Please send the names of 4 Sheffield University students who will attend the meeting on behalf of the occupiers. This will be passed on to the University then the time of the meeting will be finalised.

The other groups have already confirmed the names of their delegates so please reply before 2pm so the meeting can be arranged asap.


As it is the weekend, we are currently unable to contact the University administration to confirm whether delegates from the occupation will be included in . We have been in contact with representatives from the Palestine Society, the Islamic Circle, as well as the Jewish Society and all have agreed that it is unhelpful for the University management to exclude the occupiers from the negotiations.

We encourage all students and staff to continue to support the occupation but also to step up pressure upon the Vice Chancellor to open up negotiations with us. Our occupation is an open space and we encourage all to come and visit, debate with us, ask questions and display your solidarity or participate in the occupation.

We suggest emailing his office on

Friday, 20 March 2009

100 Hours Update:

We’re currently under lockdown again; University management have taken the decision to remove access to the building for the weekend. Today we selected our delegates to the meeting with University management and we’re currently waiting for the Vice-Chancellor to respond to our correspondence and schedule a meeting. We had a successful meeting today, in which Hilary Smith from Sheffield PSC spoke about the tactic of boycott as part of the campaign. Shortly after this the university put the building on lockdown and here we are. People are no longer allowed to enter the building and we’re only able to receive food parcels at the door.

The occupation rolls on!

Today's update

We've spent today continuing to work out the basis on which we want negotiations with University management to take place. We're hopeful of getting some movement and possibly even beginning meetings today.

We'll be meeting in Occupied Hicks LT6 at 1pm today to decide what we want occupation delegates to negotiation meetings to say and how we can ensure they remain accountable to the whole occupation.

Later today there'll be a meeting led by the PSC on their campaign against Veolia, a transport company involved in building expansionist settlements in Israel. The discussion will give activists an opportunity to discuss the usefulness of tactics such as boycotts and sanctions, which are controversial issues within the movement.

Keep checking this blog for more info.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Latest on negotiations

University management to us (responding to our communication viewable here -

Thank you for your message of late this morning.

The Vice Chancellor and one of his Pro-Vice-Chancellors met with seven members of the Union of Students Executive this morning and agreed that lines of communication should be re-established with the University of Sheffield student body over the issues raised by a number of different interest groups concerned with events in Gaza.

It was agreed that a meeting should be set up as soon as possible with representative student officers from the various organisations involved in current campaigns. Its important that, to facilitate dialogue, the number of participants in this meeting is kept to a reasonable number . A member of the University's Executive Board would attend to represent the institution's perspective, although who that would be would depend on the timing of the meeting. This meeting should be held in the Union of Students building. University staff would also be present at the meeting to ensure that the meeting was only attended by registered University of Sheffield students.

Best wishes,

The Vice-Chancellor's Office

Us to the VC, in response to the above:

Dear Keith Burnett and the Pro-Vice Chancellors,

While the members of the Occupation are disappointed that we will all not be able to take part directly with negotiations, we have agreed to send a delegation.

This delegation will have a mandated position, and any decisions will have to be ratified by the Occupation before they can be approved in the negotiations.

We have voted on suggesting an initial delegation size of 10, to represent the Occupation. We ask that the university replies to this e-mail as soon as possible so that a meeting can be arranged for Friday.

We understand that Keith Burnett may be out of Sheffield on Friday, but we are keen to get negotiations started with other members of the management team.

The Occupiers

Link the struggles! National coordination of student occupations

We have just recieved a message from student activists that have been involved in actions across the country - we post this here and encourage others to read it too.

After the wave of occupations and the national demonstration against fees; as Vice Chancellors and the government declare their intention to double fees; as cuts and redundancies rip through our campuses; and as the NUS fails to relate to any of these issues or give leadership to students - it's clear that the student movement is at a turning point.

The thousands of students who are being drawn into campaigns need to co-ordinate our actions nationally: we need a national, fighting student movement!

A group of activists from the university occupations, student union officers and activists from Education Not for Sale have called a national meeting on the 18th of April to discuss the way forward and co-ordinate our actions.

We will hear speakers from the student movements in Europe and a speaker from the UK workers' movement - but this meeting won't be about listening to endless top table speakers: we want an open discussion from the floor, between student activists, to decide on what to do next and hopefully create a permanent co-ordination, network or federation of fighting student unions and activists.

We want the organising process to be open and transparent - all are welcome to take part! Get in touch at, or

Watch this space for updates; and check the blog:

University Managment Disrupting Lectures

We have just been in conversation with a History Lecturer who had a booking to give a seminar on Post Apartheid South Africa. The management had originally relocated the seminar to room F28 upstairs, which was apparently double booked.

The lecturer then came to us and we offered to allow them to use Lt 5 for their seminar. However he was then told by a manager that they were not allowed to hold lectures in our occupied space, who went upstairs to clear up the double booking. The lecturer expressed his support for our cause.

We re-iterate our desire to cooperate with students and staff to continue with their lectures in our occupied space, and condemn this attack by University Management on lecturer's autonomy. As we have repeatedly stated, Lecture theatre 7 is locked and not under our control, and that lectures are welcome in both Lt 5 and 6 if needed.

Negotiations Proposals

The Students Union sabbatical officers met with the Vice Chancellor this morning and a suggestion was agreed upon to enter into negotiations with all those involved (eg. the Palestinian Solidarity society, Islamic Circle, the occupiers, etc.).

The Occupiers voted on the following response:

Professor Burnett –

We welcome your suggestion of negotiations and are fully committed to open negotiations between the University management and all parties involved. We believe that the best way to facilitate these negotiations would be to hold them in Lecture Theatre 7 in the Hicks Building (which has not been directly occupied) and allow any and all students who support the demands raised (including members of Sheffield Students Against Israel’s Attack on Gaza, all members of the occupation and any members of other supporting organisations) to participate in negotiations.

We feel this model is in the best interests of democracy and openness.

We look forward to your response –

The Occupation

Timetable of events for the day

We aim to hold educational meetings whilst we hold this space, and we welcome everyone to attend be they students, lecturers, other staff or people from the wider community.

1pm Palestine Society planning meeting for protecting and extending the SU's policy on Palestine

2pm Discussion about activism around BAE - an arms company our University has links with.

3pm Alternative Media workshop with a publisher from Indymedia.

4.30pm Tom Stafford - Lecturer from Psychology department on The psychology of framing; the rhetoric of the Israel- Palestine conflict.

Evening - Dinners and informal discussion on why we occupied.
- Unconfirmed meetings and discussion from student societies

NUS Black Students Campaign

We have received a message of support from the National Union of Students Black Students Campaign.

As a further update on our status, we haven't received any further communication from the University management. And they haven't issued the threatened court order as of yet.

Through persistent flyering and campaigning on the concourse yesterday we had over 80 people attending a public meeting where we hosted a talk from a University Psychology Lecturer on a previously successful academics' campaign against a publisher's involvement in the arms trade. We followed this by a discussions on why we're occupying and what we feel we can achive.

We're planning to host a similar meeting tonight, with better organisation around a Q&A session on the occupation. We also plan to show films during the evening and have offered our space for other societies to host their planned public meetings.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Union President Blog Post

The Union President David Hurst has given a statement on his official Blog.

The occupiers thank the president for voicing his opinion.

Jewish occupation activists respond to Sheffield J-Soc

The Secretary of the University of Sheffield Jewish Society today released a statement on a Facebook group set up to oppose us expressing the feelings of vulnerability and harassment felt by some Jewish students towards our occupation. The text of this statement is viewable at

Below, Jewish activists within our occupation respond to the statement.

We are writing as Jewish activists from within the occupation in response to fears and concerns expressed by J-Soc. Although we regret any feeling of victimisation on the part of any Jewish student, or any student of another ethnic minority, we wish to make it entirely clear that our occupation is unambiguously opposed to anti-Semitism, which we believe can play no positive role in any movement to fight for peace and justice in the Middle East.

Unlike some, we do not dismiss out of hand the notion that anti-Semitism exists within the Palestine solidarity movement; however, many of the activists involved in our occupation have been at the forefront of fighting those elements and attempting to build a movement in which Jews who oppose the Israeli state's oppression of the Palestinians are made to feel welcome.

The motivation behind this occupation is ultimately anti-racist: we feel revolted by the callous attitudes which see Palestinian lives as disposable, and it is exactly this feeling of solidarity that leads us – and our gentile comrades – to oppose anti-Semitism wherever it occurs, whether inside or outside the movement. The very first principle of our code of conduct clearly states that racism (as well as other forms of discriminatory behaviour such as sexism and homophobia) is unacceptable and will not be tolerated within the safe space we have created.

It is also not the case that our occupation is hostile to Israeli-Jews as a people. Our opposition is to the Israeli state and its oppression of the Palestinians and occupation of their land; far from expressing hostility to Israeli-Jews, one of our demands is that the university expresses its solidarity with those brave Israeli students who have faced jail rather than serve in the IDF in what they feel is an unjust and immoral war. We stand in solidarity with progressive, democratic and radical forces across the world – including within Israeli society.

We cannot see any reason why any of the slogans raised by our occupation would be seen as threatening or anti-Semitic; however, if students do have genuine concerns about feeling threatened, we invite them to explain what their problems are, so we can work our concerns out together and clean up any misunderstandings that may have arisen. Any student with concerns about the impact of our occupation is welcome to visit our occupied space to discuss with us without any fear of intimidation or harassment.

Without wishing to trivialise or dismiss any concerns our fellow students may feel, we would also wish to invite anyone who feels intimidated by the sight of a few solidarity banners in a building to take a moment to think of the plight of Palestinian students attempting to study under military occupation, as it is this sense of compassion for people who are having their educations – and their lives – disrupted which drove us to this course of action in the first place.

We are proud to identify with a long, varied and rich cosmopolitan tradition of radical diaspora Jews, from Emma Goldman to Albert Einstein, and thoroughly resent the idea that an identity as diverse, multifaceted and gloriously indefinable as Judaism should be tied to a narrowly nationalist, militaristic ideology, with diaspora Jews asked to either silence criticism of Israel or else be made to feel somehow “less Jewish”. Furthermore, and as we have said, a considerable opposition movement – comprising working-class forces, refusers, anti-war activists and others – exists within Israel itself, which sees no problem with combining Jewish cultural identity with criticism of, and opposition to, the Israeli ruling-class.

Finally, we disassociate ourselves entirely from the incident in which a 'boycott Israeli goods' sticker was placed on the J-Soc noticeboard. Our occupation has no policy on the question of a boycott and many activists within it oppose the tactic. We wish to reiterate our total opposition to all forms of racism (including anti-Semitism), our commitment to internationalist solidarity with the Palestinian people and our support for Israeli-Jews struggling for peace and justice for all peoples in the Middle East.

Yours -

Jewish activists within the occupation (in personal capacities)

Meeting tonight: 4:30pm

Despite attempts to prevent new people from getting into our space, we're planning on going ahead with tonight's meeting. This'll feature Sheffield lecturer Tom Stafford talking about the history of the involvment of academic workers in activism, and an open discussion on some big political questions like imperialism and resistance, led off by our very own Frode S.

Even if you end up not being able to get in, come and visit us at 4:30 (i.e. in twenty-five minutes!) and show your support!

Direct action gets the goods: student occupations can win!

One of the main criticisms that's been leveled at our action is that it's futile and can't possible achieve anything. This, to be blunt, is a total lie. Every significant piece of social progress in history has been won off the back of radical direct action, and the recent wave of student occupations has also resulted in some pretty serious achievements and victories.

We list here the achievements of the other student occupations as proof that direct action gets results and to give our supporters hope that ours can win too!

Bradford University

  • Investigate into the investment of banks used by the University.
  • Investigate twinning with the University of Gaza.
  • Organise financial help for students affected by the conflict.
The University of Cardiff

  • Undertake an ethical investment policy.
  • Disinvest from BAE Systems and all other arms companies.
  • Distribute surplus computers and equipment to Gazan educational facilities.
Edinburgh University

  • Put an end to the sale of unethical bottled water Eden Spring.
  • Consider an ethical investment policy.
  • Scholarships for 5 Palestinian students.
  • Transport excess/old materials to the University of Gaza
  • The University host a series of lectures and debates about the issue.
The University of Essex

  • Send educational materials to the University of Gaza.
Glasgow University

  • Send academic resources to the University of Gaza.
  • Consider whether it is ethical to stock Eden Springs bottled water.
  • Review the ethical investment policy.
  • The vice-chancellor to open a DEC fundraising campaign event.
  • Consider offering additional scholarships to Palestinian students.

  • 4 Scholarships for Palestinian students until 2018.
  • Twin with the University of Gaza

  • Send academic resources to the University of Gaza.
  • Consider and ethical investment policy.
  • Write to Shimon Peres expressing concern over the situation.
  • Work with the SU to raise funds to help with the humanitarian crisis.
Leeds University

  • Send academic resources to the University of Gaza.
  • Review their current ethical investment policy.
The University of Sussex

  • Review their current ethical investment policy.
  • 5 scholarships for Palestinian students.
  • Send academic resources to the University of Gaza.
  • Review their current ethical investment policy.
  • Waive fees for current Palestinian students.
  • Send academic resources to the University of Gaza.
Newcastle University
  • Issue statement in support of Gaza and recognising the humanitarian crisis that the people of Gaza are now facing.
  • Send academic resources to the University of Gaza.
  • Enter into discussions concerning disinvestment from the arms trade.
  • University will actively support the SU in campaigns and projects.
  • Enter into partnership with the University of Gaza
  • All members of occupation bought lunch by vice-chancellor as a goodwill gesture.
Plymouth University
  • Offer 6 scholarships to students affected by conflict; 3 of which for Palestinian students.
  • Send academic resources to the University of Gaza.
  • Start an ethical investment policy.
  • Disinvest from BAE systems.
  • Boycott all Israeli goods.
Queen Mary University
  • Disinvest in all unethical investments.
  • Send academic resources to the University of Gaza.
  • Discuss Scholarships
Further, at an AGM the following were passed in direct response to the occupation:

1. To support a day of fundraising for humanitarian relief for Gaza, with all proceeds to be given to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

2. To pressure the university to send surplus equipment and to organise, through the Union, to provide logistical support for the collection of this aid.

3. To join the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement by
divesting from Israel and boycotting all companies that support or benefit from
the Israeli occupation and lobbying the University to adopt a similar BDS policy
towards Israel, and to build links with student unions and other trade unions who
adopt a BDS policy.

4. To condemn the University for its lack of progress in divesting from arms
companies and ending all research in weapons manufacturing. And to adopt a
stronger approach with the university on this issue.

5. To send a letter to the BBC condemning their refusal to air the DEC appeal for
Gaza, and to place the appeal advert in Cub, QM Messenger and on the home
page of the QMSU website, until the appeal is closed.

6. To send a message of support to occupations around the country that have
shown solidarity with the people of Gaza, condemned the Israeli attacks and
opposed the siege of Gaza.

7. To send a public message of solidarity to the Islamic University in Gaza, whose
campus has been virtually destroyed, and publish it in Cub and QM Messenger.

8. To pressure the university to provide 5 fully paid scholarships for Palestinian
students in recognition of the complete destruction of many educational
facilities in Gaza as a result of the Israeli bombing campaigns.

9. To declare unequivocal support for the occupation and Queen Mary Stop the
War Coalition so far as it keeps the current demands, remains non-violent and
maintains its intention not to disrupt the education of peers. To support and aid
Queen Mary Stop the War Coalition in its negotiations with the university. To
support all students and staff so far as they face any repercussions.

Rochester University
  • Send academic resources to the University of Gaza
  • Commit resources and infromation to help fundraising.
  • Provide scholarships to Palestinian students.
  • Move toward ethical investment.
  • As a result of the occupation...
St Andrews
  • End ties with the unethcial bottled water company Eden Springs by 2010.
  • Push towards ethical investment.
  • Scholarships for those whose studies that have been interupted by conflict and natural disasters; also looking into long term support for Palestinian students.
  • Look into developing links with the University of Gaza.
  • Send humanitarian aid, and support the DEC appeal.
Strathclyde University
  • End ties with the unethical bootled water company Eden Springs.
  • Offer 1-3 scholarships to Palestinian students.
  • Allow the DEC campiagn on campus.
  • Reiterate the relationship with the University of Gaza.
  • Consider disinvestment from the arms trade.
  • Condemn the bombing of educational institutions in Gaza.
  • Set up links with educational instituitions in Gaza.
  • Support actions for fundraising.
  • Look into offering schloarships for Palestinian students.
  • Promote the DEC campaign on campus.
  • Disinvest from Israeli companies.
  • Take up an ethical investment programme.
  • Offer 6 scholarships for people affected by conflict; 3 of which are for Palestinian students.
  • Individual schools to collaborate with their counterparts in the University of Gaza.
  • Send academic supplies to the University of Gaza.
  • Create a DEC collection day on the 19th of March.

  • Offer scholarships for those affected by the conflict.
  • Consider an ethical investment policy.
  • Send a letter of support to the University of Gaza.
  • Criticise the BBC and Sky for failing to show the DEC appeal.
  • Send academic supplies to the University of Gaza.

So, occupation as a tactic does not work? I think not.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Messages of support

Messages of support and solidarity keep pouring in. So far, we've received messages of support from the following (either as organisations or as individual members of...)

  • University of Sheffield Amnesty International
  • Cambridge Gaza Solidarity
  • Cambridge IWW
  • Cardiff Students Against the War
  • Dadaist International
  • Edinburgh Student Occupation
  • Greek Young Greens
  • Hands Off the People of Iran
  • Jews for Justice for Palestinians
  • Sheffield People & Planet
  • Sheffield Anarchist Federation
  • Sheffield STWC
  • Sheffield SWP
  • Sheffield TUC
  • Sheffield Socialist Party
  • Sheffield Workers’ Liberty
  • Sussex University occupiers
  • Tyneside PSC
  • Newcastle University occupiers
  • Warwick University
  • Worker-Communist Party of Iran
  • Workers’ Left Unity Iran
  • CND
  • Northampton NUT
  • North East Workers’ Liberty
  • Students As Students, Greenwich
  • Swansea University
  • Sunderland University
  • Sheffield Student Action for Refugees
  • University of Sheffield Turkish Society
  • Exeter University
  • Bradford University occupiers
  • SOAS occupiers
  • Take Back New York University
  • Public & Civil Service Union Independent Left
  • Leeds Workers' Liberty
  • South Yorkshire NUJ
  • Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign
  • Nottingham University Occupation
  • Archaeologists for Global Justice
  • NUS Black Students Campaign
  • Sheffield University Snowboarding Club

If you wish to have your organisation added please leave a comment, or email us sheffieldoccupation(at}googlemail[dot}com

Support Petition

We've set up an i-Petition to gather support for our cause. Please sign it, as well as emailing the University Vice Chancellor as we suggested bellow. We've had loads of Cc's of people's emails to the VC already and the more shows of support the better!!

Fast times at Sheffield Uni

Our building's been locked down so no-one new can come in. We've also been given written notices that the University will seek a court injunction against us if we're not out by 9am tomorrow morning. This injunction will seek damages for legal costs as well as the cost of paying for extra security workers.

We're all pretty outraged that the University would suddenly start behaving so heavy-handedly towards its own students, particularly given the lengths we've gone to to ensure the minimum amount of disruption to normal educational functioning (going as far as to facilitate lectures taking place ourselves when University management wanted to relocate them!).

People have congregated outside our building to attend our 7pm meeting; we're currently discussing how to maintain and grow our occupation...

University management refuses to negotiate: Bombard Burnett!

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 CC to email to Rowann Sharples, his personal secretary, at, and CC us in at

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.

Yours -


Message of solidarity from Kate Hudson (National CND chair)

"We support the humanitarian aims of the Sheffield student occupation. We applaud your aim to end links withe arms trade and your support for the Israeli refuseniks. We wish you success in your endeavours."

The University Management's Reply

Letter delivered by the building security:

The Occupiers of the Hicks Building Lecture Theatres 5, 6 & 7
University of Sheffield

17th March 2009

Following the statement from the Union of Students Executive Committee condemning your occupation of the Hicks Building Lecture Theatres, the University Executive Board has taken the decision that it is unwilling to enter into discussions with any group other than one directly sanctioned by the Union of Students.

For this reason I am writing to confirm that you should not expect any further communications regarding your demands from either the Vice Chancellor or other senion members of University staff.

The University did respond to the Union of Students previously on this issue, and this communication from the Vice Chancellor remains our agreed position.

Yours Faithfully
Dr D E Fletcher
Registrar and Secretary

Cc Vice Chancellor
Cc President of the Students Union

he group will issue a responce once we have discussed the reply.

Cooperation with Lecturers

We have just cooperated with an English Literature lecturer to allow them to use one of the lecture theaters for a seminar.

It was originally scheduled for Lt 6 which we are occupying, and the management re-located them to a room that was already in use by another group. We were more than happy to let them use Lt 5 which is empty, even though management had designated it "closed" today.

We will endeavor to cooperate with all other lecturers scheduled to take lectures in Hicks Lt 5, 6 and 7 during our occupation. Our aim is to disrupt University Management, not students education.

Students Union Condemnation

In reply to the Students Union Executive Committee's statement of condemnation of our occupation:

We would like to reiterate that from the start this occupation made efforts to NOT obstruct lectures taking place in the rooms we are occupying, and it is the University Management that has made the decision to relocate lectures to other rooms. We have been welcoming to students turning up for their lectures and helped them find where it was relocated to, and offered our apologies for the inconveniences management have caused them.

Several Lecturers have visited us and given their support, and we haven't received any direct criticisms from students or lecturers.

Our Email to the VC

Sent at 11:24pm, 16 March 09.

We are writing to you from inside a student occupation which began this evening in the Hicks building. We have peacefully taken control of two lecture theatres (5 and 6) on Floor E and are running them safely as democratic, student-run spaces.

We have done this in protest at the failure of university management to continue a process of negotiation over the university's response to Israel's recent attack on Gaza.
As student activists and members of the University of Sheffield community, we call on the university to:

  1. Issue a statement condemning the disproportionate actions of the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.
  2. Create a special programme of five Palestinian scholarships and waive all fees for current students from the occupied territories.
  3. Enter into an academic partnership with the University of Gaza.
  4. Donate old books, computers and other relevant equipment to the University of Gaza, and pay for the transport of these materials.
  5. Publicise the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal on Sheffield University notice boards, website and via email.
  6. Initiate a programme in partnership with students of divestment and ending links with the arms trade.
  7. Allow those studying medicine to carry out their electives in the occupied territories of Palestine.
  8. Commemorate the United Nations Palestine Solidarity Day on November 29th.
  9. Echo the Occupation's statement of support with Israeli students who have been imprisoned for refusing to serve in the IDF.

We have taken this action because we believe our university should be run democratically from below by students and staff, and not in the interests of corporate profiteering. Because of this belief, we express our solidarity with university workers and demand

10.That they face no cuts in jobs, wages or conditions.

We further demand

11. That participants in, or supporters of, the occupation face no repercussions.

We would like to begin open negotiations with representatives of university management as soon as possible. To this end, we invite you to visit us in our occupied space (Hicks LT6) tomorrow morning after 9am to commence discussions.
Email correspondence with the occupation can be conducted through this address.

Yours -
The Sheffield Occupiers.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Sheffield Occupied

Students at Sheffield University occupied a lecture theater in the Hicks building at 7:15pm today.

The students decided to occupy in solidarity with the people of Gaza and in response to the University Administration and Vice Chancellor’s uncooperative approach towards student’s previous list of demands.

More details will follow soon...