Pi Newspaper exclusive from inside the Wilkins Garden Room.
In retaliation against University College London’s expansion into Newham, students have occupied the Wilkins Garden Room, metres away from the Provost’s office.
The sit-in was arranged spontaneously on Wednesday evening following a UCLU demonstration held against UCL’s plans to demolish the Carpenters Estate. The 20-acre council estate is currently home to over 300 households and all of its residents will be evicted to make room for the new campus. Given the green light in October, the £1 billion campus will provide accommodation and laboratories for future students.
Although in its early hours, the protesters have already started to organize the occupied room into designated areas for sleeping, working and campaigning – communal toothpaste and a provisional schedule for the day ahead have already been established.
A demonstration has been organized for 1pm on Thursday and various other occupational-esque activities, including banner making and talks from the Carpenters Against Regeneration Plans (CARP).
A UCL spokesperson in correspondence with Pi Newspaper has suggested that UCL, “have just told the occupiers that they have until 12 to leave the room, or UCL will initiate legal proceedings to get them out of the room.”
One UCL student involved in the occupation suggested to Pi Newspaper that, “UCL has shown no signs that they’re going back on their plans to evict hundreds of families from their homes. The university has a huge propaganda machine going and are failing to present the whole story.”
“The plans have to be stopped. The university is clearly putting their profit and investment before the well being of the people. Students don’t want their university to be responsible for something that is immoral.”
The occupation has learned from the sit-in of 2010, which lasted for two and a half weeks and ended with legal action against some of the protesters. As a result of the legal ramifications of 2010, the protesters are cautious about providing names and numbers in attendance at this early stage. As such Pi Newspaper is unable to release specific details regarding individuals. However, University of London Union President, Michael Chessum, is happy to confirm his presence.
If the occupation of the Wilkins Garden Room continues, a number of society events will be affected. The room has been booked throughout the rest of the week, including a conference at the weekend under the UCLU Business Society.
Rehearsals for Dance Society and UCLU Musical Theatre Society will also be disrupted and it is unclear whether or not the Glee club will embrace the occupation with open jazz hands. The protesters are willing to cooperate with room bookings to avoid inconvenience and have suggested that they are more than happy for the rehearsals to take place, even hinting at participating.
A long-term plan for the occupation will be considered on Thursday – Pi Newspaper will be providing updates as the sit-in continues.