Sir Steve: don’t cave in to the occupiers, keep Exeter University’s position the same.

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For the last one hundred hours, a small group of students have occupied the lower floor of Northcott house with the aim of forcing the university to release a statement in support of the UCU Strikes.

In doing this, they have diverted security personnel away from keeping students safe on campus and disrupted the meetings where discussions about the impact of the strike, reimbursement for missed lectures and mitigation for those most affected would have taken place. They have achieved nothing but causing embarrassment for our university and their behaviour shouldn’t be made acceptable.

The only defensible position a university should take is one which considers the interests of the majority of students and respects their concerns about missed contact hours and disruption to their degree. The University of Exeter’s original statement did just that, and backtracking to support a strike which puts students’ futures at risk would be extraordinary. It is unacceptable that we are being treated as pawns by UCU, and the strike does not merit the support of our university as a result.

We would be highly disappointed if you, as our Vice-Chancellor, gave in to the occupiers and allowed this to happen. Doing so would endorse the idea that students can be used as collateral in an increasingly politicised and acrimonious dispute.