Hetherington re-opened by students

Published

Adam Campbell

The abandoned Hetherington Research Club has been occupied by various activist groups in protest to proposed cuts to Higher Education.

The club, which was forced to close down last year for financial reasons, was occupied on Tuesday February 1, by around 50 protesters, who gained access to the empty building through a fire door from the adjoining building 11 University gardens.

The occupiers have issued a list of demands, which include indefinite freedom of access, no police presence, acceptance of student ownership and control of the Hetherington. The protesters are also demanding no cuts to student services or unions and no job losses without proper consultation.

One protester explained the reasons for the occupation.

He said: “Student action shows the importance of the student experince and this occupation of the Hetherington will remind others of that as well.”

The decision to occupy the building was taken on Monday as workers began to renovate the building, in what is believed to be an attempt by the university to sell off the building as offices.

The activists intend on using the club as a free student space that is open to all staff and students, and numerous events have been held in the building, including a reading by AL Kennedy, in what is considered to be the launch of her campaign to become Rector at Glasgow University.

Many different groups, including former staff members at the Hetherington, have supported the campaign. Eileen Boyle, former Staff Representative at the Hetherington, showed her support for the occupation.

She said: “I was here the day they actually shut it down and I’m just thinking this kind of direct action might have actually kept our social space open and kept 25 people in jobs so I’m applauding what the students are doing just now to draw attention to this.”

Tommy Gore, President of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), applauded the efforts of the protesters, but warned them from shifting focus off other events.

He said: “Whilst it’s good to see the Hetherington back in use, we’re concerned that the Occupation will detract from the issues surrounding the forthcoming Cost Reduction Plan in the next week. This is where the SRCs focus will be on, in responding to these announcements.”

The university spokesperson says it will not intervene with the occupation, unless it becomes disruptive.

He said: “Campus security are in close contact with the protesters. As things stand, as long as the protest remains peaceful and does not disrupt the normal business of the University and other students, campus security will not intervene.”

The Research Club was closed down last year after the university stopped providing finanicial grants to the club, believing that it was unjustifiable to supply funding to a club that was not financially viable.