Dundee University students have decided to occupy one of the key buildings on Campus in their support of the striking University's staff. The strike is part of the University and College Union's [UCU] action against the pension cuts and poor working and pay conditions. This series of strikes has begun on the 21st of March and is planned to last 5 days until the 25th of March.
"When we said direct action, we meant it. We have occupied the fourth floor of the Tower building [where the Principal's office is located] in defence of the UCU strike.
"We will remain here for 24 hours or until demands are met. Their teaching conditions are our learning conditions," says Jake Mace, a 3rd year Philosophy and Politics student.
The team of protesters is joined by the Vice-President of Community (elect), Jazmine Bennett.
Our team has approached the protesters for a comment.
UPDATE 24/03, 4 pm
"DUSA does not side with either side of the conflict," says Dimitris Vidakis, President of DUSA. "We're here to facilitate the talks between the concerned parties and we've successfully helped to escalate it to the point where the University's officials agreed to acknowledge the protesting students and are going to talk to them," he concludes.
Jake Mace, representing the protesters, said that they received a verbal confirmation from the DUSA President regarding one of their demands - the student hardship fund.
"We've interacted with facilities staff who are checking our welfare and explained the logistics for our plans to stay the night here," reveals Jake Mace. "We have lots of water and food, we have a water fountain and UCU staff and our other allies have been providing us with anything else we need," he claims.
Asked about the main idea behind the protests Jake says, "Their teaching conditions are our learning conditions. Education is under existential threat from commercialisation, casualisation and staff pensions are at the forefront of this battle. Lecturers and other staff have been behind us in our causes and we must be behind them in theirs. Solidarity is the key."
The Magdalen has approached the University for a comment.
UPDATE 25/03, 9 am
The protesting students have left the Tower Building after spending a night inside of it. After leaving the building, they joined a picket organised outside.
UPDATE 25/03, 10:30 am
Our team has contacted the Principal. Professor Iain Gillespie, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said, “I spent a good while speaking to the group, as did other colleagues, listening to their concerns and discussing the various issues they raised, which were wide in scope, beyond just the current issues in dispute through the strike action, and very well considered.
“I do admire the passion and commitment of our students and will always take time to hear their voice. We should be extremely proud of our students having the courage to engage in matters they feel so strongly about and I agreed with a great deal of what they had to say. I am anxious that we build on this dialogue with our student body going forward.
“I’d like to thank our security staff for their great efforts over the 24 hours of the occupation to ensure the safety and security of our students taking part. I know that the students very much appreciated that.”
Moreover, our team has found that the University has donated monies from previous strikes to the student hardship fund and is already planning to do so again. We reported yesterday that this was one of the demands of the striking students, and Dimitris Vidakis, the President of DUSA facilitated this part of the negotiations.
"We meet regularly with all of the campus unions including UCU to discuss all issues. Additionally members of the University Executive Group have engaged with those on the picket line," adds Roddy Isles from the Principal's Office.
"Negotiations on USS (the national pension scheme) and pay are held at a national level. With regards to USS we are supportive of the decisions of the Joint Negotiating Committee, which includes representatives from the employers and UCU."