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Faculty of Arts staff receive advice on occupation of Michael Sadler building

November 25, 2010

Yesterday evening, the following letter was circulating around the University, and sent specifically to colleagues in the Faculty of Arts, who work in the occupied Michael Sadler building. The language of ‘challenge’ and ‘confrontation’ in this letter demonstrates a disjunction between the reality of the student occupation and the perception of it by university management. Note that the occupiers are referred to as ‘individuals’, not ‘students’ and that the numbers involved, over 100 Leeds students supported by students from local Schools and colleges such as Notre Dame – the largest university occupation in the UK today – are not communicated. In fact, the word ‘individuals’, it seems, is chosen to misrepresent the popular movement. The letter, in full, read:

Dear all

I am sorry to have to confirm that individuals protesting about the cuts in higher education and the proposed rise in tuition fees continue to occupy the Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre. We must assume that they intend to maintain the occupation into tomorrow at least. Although they have a presence in the foyer of the Michael Sadler building, there is currently no indication that they will try to prevent people from working as normal in the rest of the building.

We will continue to monitor the situation, and we will advise you if circumstances change. In the meantime, I know of no reason why staff should not come to work as normal in the morning. To give us time to assess the situation in the morning, I would, however, suggest that, if practicable, you advise staff not to enter the building before 9 am.

Security staff will patrol the building from time to time during the night for purposes of health and safety and crime prevention.

I am sure that your staff will not need to be reminded to lock offices and other rooms when empty!

We are obviously anxious to avoid unnecessary confrontation, and I would be grateful therefore if you would also advise your staff not to challenge any of the protestors.

We are making arrangements to move lectures currently scheduled for the Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre tomorrow, but the details will not be clear until the morning.

Finally, I would remind you that any untoward incidents – of any kind – should be reported to Security, on 0113 343 2222 (for emergencies) or 0113 343 5495 (for non-emergency calls).

I will be in touch with you again tomorrow morning. In the meantime, I suggest that you circulate this to your staff if you are able.

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