The occupied senate building
**EDIT** As of last night, the Hetherington occupation is back on as senior management offered us back the building in exchange for giving them back their beloved senate headquarters! This rendered the whole police and security operation yesterday entirely useless! As of this morning, people are being targetted by the police and re-arrested, information here **END OF EDIT**
At 10.30 this morning, university security entered the Free Hetherington at Glasgow University, just two hours before it celebrated its 7 week anniversary of being in occupation. What should’ve been a quiet morning at the space – with students and staff dropping in for cups of tea, coffee and lunch between lectures – rapidly turned into a mass confrontation between security, the police and hundreds of students and supporters, as plans to evict the occupation became clear.
Entering the building under false pretences of a health and safety check-up (as they’ve been allowed to before, given that relations with campus security have generally been very positive up until today), more security quickly entered and police back-up was called in, with a helicopter scrambled to the scene. As more students began to arrive to show support, the front steps were taken – with the police then resorting to handcuffing students in an attempt to remove them from the doorway. More supporters and onlookers continued to arrive, as did the police – in the end over 80 officers and 20 vehicles attended, alongside the constantly circling helicopter.
With just a handful of occupiers in the building at the time, people on the outside made an attempt to gain access through a fire exit from an adjacent building. They were stopped by uni security, who assaulted a number of students – including one who later had to leave in an ambulance after suffering concussion from a head injury. The police then intervened and arrested a number of people. However, with hundreds now gathered outside, they refused to let anyone leave the building and those arrested were held inside, including the person suffering concussion. This also had the effect of holding entire classes of students hostage, as well as those in offices and computer labs.
Around 1pm, the police entered the Free Hetherington in numbers and dragged the remaining occupiers out by force. Hundreds remained outside, with the stand-off next door, at 11 University Gardens, continuing. This came to an end around an hour later – with those who’d been arrested, with the exception of the person who had already left in an ambulance, now being told that they were apparently not arrested after all! Clearly the police were trying to diffuse an increasingly volatile situation.
Both this, and the eviction in general, spectacularly backfired. Students and supporters outside the Free Hetherington then blocked the road, preventing two police vans from passing by. To chants of ‘who’s kettled now?’, two police vans were forced to reverse out of University Gardens. Around 300 students then broke off and marched to the university main building. From here, the doors to uni’s head offices were broken down and several of the key rooms at the uni – including the Senate – occupied. This is currently ongoing, with freedom of access.
Glasgow University is at the forefront of a battle over the future of education. Management have consistently ignored the university’s own democratic bodies, including the Senate, pressing ahead with their corporate, business-oriented vision of what education should be. Principal Muscatelli and his senior management team must go. The battle continues.