Coleraine protest students 'cut off'

Published Wednesday, 18 December 2013
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Protestors at the University of Ulster's Coleraine campus are claiming they have been cut off from access to water, food, electricity and toilets in an attempt to force them to abandon their campaign.

Coleraine protest students 'cut off'
A picture from the scene of the protest at the University of Ulster in Coleraine (© @paddymsp)

Students and other campaigners have been occupying the Senior Common Room in a protest, now into its third week, against the closure of the service.

They claim the space will be converted into "a corporate dining suite" which students would not be able to access.

Neil Moore, who is playing an active role in the campaign, stated: "The university management seem to have absolutely no consideration for the tenants inside.

"The exits were boarded up around 8am, followed shortly by water and, since about 10am, the power has now been shut off.

"A disabled student inside is being held captive by the fact that lifts are being made non-operational and only one narrow exit has not been blocked off."

The protestors claim the plans for the Senior Common Room are a sign of further "privatisation and marketisation" of universities.

The university's senior management has kept the Senior Common Room Committee fully informed of the upgrade plans and the schedule for the commencement of construction work.

University of Ulster

But, in a statement to UTV, the university said it was "disappointed" by the protest.

A spokesman said: "The university is disappointed that a small number of people - fewer than 10 - are trying to prevent improvement work to facilities at our Coleraine campus.

"We should make it clear that the Senior Common Room on the Coleraine campus is not a facility which is open to all staff and students. It is a private club charging a fee for membership.

"As part of our multi-million-pound investment programme in the physical estate at the Coleraine campus, the area formerly occupied by the Senior Common Room is being repurposed with the creation of high-quality meeting rooms and teaching facilities.

"Also as part of that upgrade work, a new staff common room open to all staff free of charge will be provided by the university. This will be more inclusive than the existing arrangements. The new staff common room will be bookable by student clubs and societies at evenings and weekends."

The protestors are calling for the Minister for Employment and Learning Stephen Farry to intervene.

Police say they are aware of the ongoing protest and are monitoring the situation.

© UTV News
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18 Comments
Ryan in An Dun wrote (118 days ago):
Wait til they start work, they will know what problems really are.
Frosty in Here wrote (119 days ago):
Like any corporation worth a damn is going to want to dine in Coleraine.
Em in Portstewart wrote (121 days ago):
I worked in the Senior Common Room until this morning, when the university decided to blockade the place in spite of ongoing legal proceedings between the Common Room and the university. I have seen the protest movement grow as it has developed in the SCR. I'm amazed and impressed by the students who've undertaken this protest. They are protesting so much more than just the forced closure of the SCR. They are also protesting the cuts to staff pay and student resources, as well as restrictions recently placed on the Students' Union (particularly on the SU shop, because the shop was competing with the private shops too much for the kickback crowd's liking). The SCR is just the focal point. This is about the seizure of universities by corporate interests. I should also note that the university is fibbing about a staff room somehow being more inclusive than the SCR. The SCR was open to students, staff, alumni, retired staff, and the outside community, not just staff.
DS in Portstewart wrote (121 days ago):
Having studied an MSc at Coleraine and being proud to have been there, the Senior Common Room was the number one place to go to interact with both staff and other like minded students. It was a relaxing and friendly atmosphere which led to plenty of constructive work being carried out, including even several research projects from across departments having met other staff in the SCR. Utter disgrace that this is being shut down, just showing how hell bent the university is to move everything to Belfast. A man once said, a university is not experienced in the lecture halls or in the class room, but in the eating rooms and common areas where folk come together. I would not have got where I am today without the relaxed and friendly atmosphere of the SCR, well done to the protesters, hope they fight on.
feline1 in all around ewe wrote (121 days ago):
that's outrageous, they should have a meta-protest about the way their protest is being treated
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