19/06/2019 – Student occupation in Senate House 13-14 June 2019

A student occupation took place in Senate House on 13-14 June. There have been many allegations relating to the occupation circulating on social media and I wanted to put the record straight on a number of these. 

1. The students were denied access to toilets

The students were repeatedly offered access to toilet facilities throughout their stay but were advised they would not be permitted to re-enter The Chancellor's Hall if they left. 

2. The air conditioning was turned on to freezing

Senate House is not air-conditioned – the temperature in The Chancellor's Hall is what we all experience during cooler summer days.  

3. The fire alarm was set off deliberately

The commander of the London Fire Brigade that attended the event (as the students refused to leave the building) confirmed it as a genuine alarm activation.

4. The students were not given warning or the opportunity to negotiate prior to their removal

We were in very regular contact with the student group throughout the occupation. The students were offered a meeting with myself on Monday 17 June to discuss their demands. 

5. The students were evicted using violence

By Friday evening 9 of the original 12 protestors were present – the others had left voluntarily. One of these left when the security team entered The Chancellor's Hall.  The remaining occupiers were given the opportunity to leave voluntarily which they refused to do and they were removed from the building individually without any violence or harm to either the students or the security guards.
The students were removed as they were potentially endangering themselves by sitting on exterior balconies, blocking fire exits and smoking on University premises. They had blocked all exits to The Chancellor's Hall and they were in breach of our visitor regulations. It is very regrettable that we have had to incur expense from additional security and test the patience of hard working staff and delegates attending events at Senate House. 

The University has a clear and publicised timetable to review all outsourced contracts and will continue to make progress on this.

Peter Kopelman, Vice-Chancellor, University of London