Students occupying the University of Kent are defying college administration threats and plan to continue their protest against tuition fees and education cuts into the new year.
University bosses hoped that by turning off the internet and stopping anyone who leaves the building from re-entering, they could force protesters out of the key Senate administration building before Christmas. But their plan failed.
Instead activists were bolstered by a wave of solidarity. They are now calling on their supporters to join a candlelit vigil on New Year’s Day.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received,” Steve Stevenson, an occupier, told Socialist Worker.
“One University of Kent lecturer brought us curry on Christmas Eve. Then, on Christmas Day, another lecturer brought us a roast dinner, which was a lovely gesture.”
The sit-in at the Canterbury campus, which began three weeks ago on 8 December, has seen more than 200 students and staff join a series of meetings, workshops and a concert.
Steve says occupiers have been inundated with messages during the freezing cold days and nights of the seasonal holiday. He hopes that strength of feeling will now turn into strong support for the vigil on Saturday 1 January.
“Management attempted to clampdown on us over Christmas. Now they are using private security guards to stop people coming in and out of the Senate building we are occupying.
“They served us a court summons on 22 December. That states there will be a court hearing on 7 January. The university are hoping to get a possession order which will mean those occupying will be evicted.”
Steve hopes that students from other colleges and universities will join with trade unionists at the vigil outside the Senate.
With nationwide protests over cuts, fees and the axing of the education maintenance allowance set to restart in the new term, could there be a better way to see in the new year?
Vigil on Saturday 1 January, 5pm, Senate Building, University of Kent, Canterbury.
Send messages of support to: [email protected] or see the university of Kent occupation page on Facebook.