Over 75 students gathered outside the Student Union offices Thursday night to protest the University of York’s alleged “lack of support” for students and staff over the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The protest coincided with a spree of graffiti across campus, in 11 separate locations, including the Grade II listed Heslington Hall.
Chants of “CJ (Charlie Jefferey, the University of Vice Chancellor) is a conman”, and “students before profit, staff before profit” echoed across West Campus as police watched from a distance, before moving in to encourage students to leave at 7.00pm, when the protest was scheduled to end.
Police and security claimed that the protests violated lockdown restrictions, since the Home Office stated on 3 November: “People must follow the rules on meeting with others, which apply to all gatherings, and therefore protests too”.
In a “Protest Run Down” on their Instagram page, York Student Solidarity Network, who organised the event, commented:
“It was a success, with many people sharing their stories and experiences about how utterly let down they had been in so many ways by the university… [we] went back to our homes triumphant in our strength”.
The group have also made accusations of attempted intimidation by University security staff and police.
Alongside political speeches, the event included moving and personal accounts by students, expressing anger towards the University and the Government for their treatment of the COVID-19 crisis.
The University of York has commented to Vision:
“Balancing safety with giving students as normal a University experience as possible during the pandemic has been at the heart of our planning and our priority remains the health and safety of our students and staff.
“The University is committed to providing high-quality teaching, learning, academic and pastoral support for our students – whether this is delivered face-to-face or virtually.
“The University cares deeply about supporting students who face difficulties during their studies and has a number of support packages in place. This includes our Emergency Student Support Fund for students facing unanticipated financial challenges due to the pandemic.”