Open letter released
The open letter from People and Planet has been released, following the final two protestors leaving the building.
In the letter, People and Planet call on the University’s Senior Leadership Team to “sit down to discuss divestment with us”, and point to the support they received from UCU members, SU Officers, and EAUC Conference attendees.
They also describe the University’s tactics as “heavy handed”, which left the group “no choice but to leave despite having remained peaceful and respectable”.
The occupation lasted for 24 hours.
It looks as if only two of the eight original protestors remain. People and Planted tweeted that “due to genuine health concerns” some protestors were forced to leave.
The Mancunion understands People and Planet are preparing an open letter to the University’s leadership.
Video shows SU Officers handing over water
A video posted on Facebook by SU International Students’ Officer Riddi Viswanathan shows her and Education Officer Olivia Meisl passing the eight protestors water through the door, via security.
In the video, the eight protestors are seen telling the Officers that security have treated them well, and also say they “don’t know” when they will leave.
Like Meisl, the protestors appealed for dialogue in the video.
SU tells Uni: Don’t “inadvertently impose a hunger strike”
The Students’ Union (SU) have given their view on the protests, with Education Officer Olivia Meisl commenting: “Regardless of any disagreement on principle, it’s vital that the University offer welfare support to the students involved in this protest. It’s in no one’s interest for the University to inadvertently impose a hunger strike on protesting students; the dispute must not be resolved at the cost of student wellbeing.
“The University prides itself on developing intelligent students that engage with the world around them, and a by-product of that is sometimes they will contest the University’s choices. The University should listen to and engage with these students’ concerns in a constructive manner, and the students should work to listen to the university and the current and historic reasons it’s taken the positions it has.
“Common understanding and dialogue is crucial to a successful student/university partnership, so I hope both sides can find a way to communicate and listen.”
WiFi switched off
People and Planet now say that the WiFi has been switched off in the area they’re in, prompting activists to use data on their phones.
UoM IT services have not tweeted a service interruption notice, and their site currently says the network is working normally, so it does not mean the whole WiFi system has gone down.
It also could mean Emma, who was doing her dissertation whilst protesting, might not be able to continue her research.
Spirits remain high
Despite not being allowed visitors, extra food or water, or the ability to use the toilet, People and Planet remain in high spirits.
They’ve devised a song to the tune of ‘Ten ducks swimming in the water’, but edited the lyrics to better reflect the situation.
Check out the full performance by clicking the tweet’s date below.
Inside the occupation
The Mancunion have spoken directly to Sophie Marriott and Adam Haigh from People and Planet on their next steps.
They say they’ve requested the chance to speak to another member of the University’s Senior Leadership Team, specifically Chief Operating Officer Patrick Hackett, but have been told that it’s not possible.
Marriott said that the eight were “coping” with the latest decision to ban the group from using the toilets, saying she believed they were “doing the right thing”, and had “no other option”.
“We’re broadly cheerful, but verging on frustration because we’ve been so open with the University. All we want is dialogue, we’re not trying to damage or disrupt [anything].
“What we’re actually asking for isn’t too radical, 76 universities have committed to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Refusing to speak to students [concerned about the environment] whilst the EUAC Conference is on across the road is despicable.”
Adam Haigh, incoming Students’ Union Welfare Officer, and will have to work with the University’s Senior Leadership Team next year, said: “Obviously this might not give [the University] the most positive image of me, but it shows I care about climate and the environment.
“The Uni know they’ll be pushed [on divestment] so know they’ll need to be accountable [for it]”.
When asked if he thought the University were taking a heavy-handed approach, Haigh commented: “It’s an interesting decision. Security have been fine with us, it’s the Senior Leadership Team who are making the decisions.
“At the end of the day, it’s eight people in a corridor”
Toilet access removed
People and Planet have told The Mancunion that the University has taken away their access to the toilets, which they were also using for drinking water.
The group are discussing their next steps.
A solidarity demonstration is underway at Whitworth Arch, with students chalking messages about divestment on the pavement. They’re currently being washed away by the University as quickly as they’re being laid down.
Photo: The Mancunion
Photo: The Mancunion
An update has come in from the University, who say: “The University of Manchester supports the right of any student to protest peacefully and legally. However, our responsibility as a University is to ensure that we do everything we can to minimise disruption to other students and to our staff.”
People and Planet confirm no-food policy
People and Planet have just tweeted confirmation they will not be allowed any more food or any more members to join them during the occupation.
Members turned away
People and Planet now say that one of their members have been turned away UoM security.
The security guard passed the food on to the protesters already inside the building that had been brought for them, but told the activists that no more food would be allowed in.
People and Planet told The Mancunion they still plan to occupy the space until Nancy Rothwell speaks to them.
Eight students outside Rothwell’s office
People and Planet have told The Mancunion that eight students are currently occupying the space outside Nancy Rothwell’s office, with a ninth on their way.
They have said they’ll be there until Nancy speaks to them in person, which could be as late as Friday – when she returns to the University.
To keep themselves entertained, one student is currently writing her dissertation on Vietnamese protest music, whilst others are playing word games.
Photo: People and Planet