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'Defend the UCL 13'

Dazed tagged along to yesterday's protest rally in support of the 12 University College London students and a teacher who face legal action after occupying an administrative building on the campus

PhotographyHuw NesbittTextHuw Nesbitt

As of Tuesday 22nd March, UCL students and demonstrators have been occupying the administrative buildings on the university’s grounds in support of the planned teaching and staff-strike on Thursday next week. Amidst this, there's been the heavy-handed use of legal action on behalf of the university management, who are currently undertaking legal proceeding that could potentially bankrupt 12 of the demonstrators and one member of staff. Prior to a rally held outside UCL management meeting on Tottenham Court Road on Thursday, Dazed spoke to 'Kerry' who - despite not pursuing higher education - has been a member of the occupation since day one.

Dazed Digital: So you're a non-student, then - what's your involvement?
Well, I know a bunch of people that study at UCL and I've always been politically active, so that's why I'm here. I came down when the occupation started and attended the first meeting and haven't left.

DD: How has the university reacted to yet another occupation?
With bullying and threats of ridiculously high legal fees. Without going into too much detail, when we were in occupation the last time, something that should have cost £5,000 ended up costing £40,000, which is just one admittedly vague example. This time the university have said that there's absolutely no room for negotiation, either: that they've been taking images of everyone on CCTV and that everyone involved is going to be held accountable for costs and, where appropriate, disciplinary action.

DD: And what’s been your reaction?
We’ve told them that they can't bully us like that carried on! We will actually leave, eventually; in fact, today is our last day. But the management is refusing to enter into a dialogue. Fortunately, the people in the disciplinary team have said that even if the university forces them into taking action, that they won't discipline anyone, so everything seems to be working out okay.

DD: As it’s your last day, and only two away from the big day of action on Saturday, do you have anything planned for today?
Well, right now the UCL management is going to meet to discuss what the rises in tuition fees are going to look like, so we're going to go and disrupt and hopefully stop them from holding it at all. We're unsure, however, of how things are going to go - whether or not there will already be lots of security or if they've moved the meeting to another building entirely. But otherwise, there's going to be a good rally all the same.

DD: What do you want to achieve on Saturday?
Of course, no one has any idea of what is going to happen, but I think the general aim is occupation on a huge scale, whether that be Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park or numerous other places. Hopefully we'll be able to take them over for at least a couple of days, where we can form meeting hubs and plan other events. But we’ll have to see!