Activists occupy Gordon Aikman Lecture Theatre

Around 20 activists from three University of Edinburgh-based activist groups occupied the Gordon Aikman Lecture Theatre on Friday night around 7pm.

The groups involved are Staff Student Solidarity Network (SSSN) Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Justice for Palestine Society, and climate group Youth in Resistance.

The occupation is in protest of inaction by the University on several issues, the situation in Palestine, and climate change.

According to the groups, the action will continue until Friday, 25 March, overlapping next week’s UCU strike dates.

When asked about university security’s response to the occupation, one Youth in Resistance member who spoke to The Student said,

“We did not have any interactions with security until after we were all in the building.

“Everything was very mild, no aggression from either side.”

Another member of Youth in Resistance who spoke to The Student said,

“[I’m feeling] really good! We’ve all been really angry at the university and it’s good to call them out loudly.”

“We’re also focusing on the university’s continuing support of Israeli business in the face of apartheid and failure to prepare us for the climate crisis.

“We want to use the space to educate each other and help people take action”.

In a joint social media statement, the groups said that the occupation was meant to show support for UCU strike action and to educate students about the university’s inability to cope with large-scale social issues.

Further, the groups aim to host educational events about the Israel-Palestine conflict during the upcoming Israeli Apartheid Week, and to protest the university’s inaction on climate change.

The statement encouraged students to visit the lecture theatre for various educational events during the upcoming week of strike action, from Monday until Friday.

The building occupation is the first since the 2019-2020 academic year, which saw three building occupations in support of UCU strikes.

A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh told The Student,

“We support the right of people to protest lawfully and peacefully and we are working with the students to ensure their safety and provide for their basic needs.”

The Student has also reached out to Edinburgh University Students’ Association for comment.

Image courtesy of Joe Sullivan

By Joe Sullivan

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