5 December 2013

Statement on Senate House occupation

Yesterday afternoon, following a meeting between University management and the ULU President, parts of Senate House were occupied by around 50 protesters claiming to be an “independent network” of students, campaigning on a variety of issues.

They sealed fire escapes, climbed on the external balconies and refused to leave until a series of demands were met. Staff on the first floor locked themselves in their offices for their own safety. The students appeared aggressive and intimidating, built barricades from furniture and occupied a number of office rooms. At 4pm, the University issued a statement in which it made clear that its priority was the safety of staff, students and visitors. The remainder of the building, including the Libraries of Senate House, was evacuated as a precautionary measure shortly after 5pm.

On the advice of police, the protesters were issued with an ultimatum to leave the building by 1800 hours. They did not do so and at 1920 Senate House security teams started to remove the protesters by force. It was only then that staff felt it safe enough to leave the refuge of their locked offices. Police were in attendance. A number of arrests for assault were made.

Chris Cobb, Chief Operating Officer and University Secretary said: “This was a disgraceful and aggressive act, which placed the safety of our staff at risk. The University will always support peaceful and legitimate protest, but invading our working environment and blocking fire escapes is potentially life threatening and plays no part in democratic dissent. The University will never under any circumstances enter into a dialogue with any group or group of individuals who adopt this approach.”

Ends


For further information contact:

James Pestell
Director of Marketing and External Relations
University of London
Tel: 020 7862 8020, E: james.pestell@london.ac.uk
Mobile 07711 368029

Binda Rai
Head of Communications and External Relations
University of London
Tel: 020 7862 8545, E: binda.rai@london.ac.uk