Statement from Royal Holloway 18 March 2018
On Friday afternoon, 16 March 2018, a number of students from Royal Holloway, University of London, took up occupation on what is known as the Principal’s Corridor. They presented a list of demands to the Principal and Chief Operating Officer, who both met with them again later in the evening to address the points they raised. The students indicated that until they felt their demands had been met, they would remain on the corridor.
From the outset, Royal Holloway has, we believe, done everything we can to recognise the students’ right to peaceful protest and at no point have we compromised their safety.
Students taking part in the occupation have been free to come and go, with some attending a Students’ Union ball, held off campus, on Saturday night, and returning to the protest in the early hours of the morning. Student support staff have visited them and UCU representatives have delivered food as a sign of their support for the students. Some students have also passed food through a window on the corridor. The students have access to toilets on the corridor and kitchen areas which have hot water and a microwave.
The safety and well-being of the students has been at the heart of everything we have done while the students carry out their protest. The 24 hour security posted at the doors is to prevent the number of students occupying the space from growing. The locked doors that have been reported on Twitter are exits and entrances from the Founder’s Building to the outside. Some are routinely locked, and others are locked at night for the safety and security of the students who live in the Founder’s Building.In the event of a fire alarm, the doors would automatically open.
Relations with the Security Team have been cordial, with the students offering to make them hot drinks. On Friday night, the students ordered pizza from a local delivery company, and our Security Team took to it to them.
It has also been reported that some students have not been able to access their medication. As the students involved in the protest are free to come and go, it’s not clear to us why they are not able to access any medication they need. None of the students have indicated any particular medical needs, had they done so, of course we would have supported those needs.
In the night, the students have asked for the safety lights on the corridor to be switched off to let them sleep. As the lights are on a circuit that operates across the Founder’s Building it’s not been possible to isolate this area.
Despite what has been posted on social media, at no point has the university compromised the safety and well-being of our students as a result of this occupation. We are disappointed that our willingness to support the right of our students to peaceful protest has been misrepresented.