Students occupy building in protest at University of Manchester’s fossil fuel investment

  • Students are on their seventh day of occupation of offices
  • Occupation will continue until university agreesto their demands
  • Students are calling for supporters to aid them in campaign

A group of student activists have occupied the finance offices at the University of Manchester to protest against the £11.3m they say is invested into fossil fuels.

The group known as People & Planet began their campaign on 19 November by occupying the corridors of the John Owens building after the university failed to engage with students over its decision to invest in fossil fuels.

Students have occupied the University building
Students occupying the university finance office

Speaking to NQ, protester Kayleigh Crawford said: “Protest is a vital part of democracy. In something as immediate as the climate crisis which will affect all of our futures, the university should be leading the way, not trailing behind.”

The group has presented a list of demands to the university but so far has not reached an agreement on the divestment of fossil fuel investment. University management offered to meet with students outside of the occupied offices but students declined as they believe this was a tactic to remove them.

Kayleigh said: “We fear that if we leave this occupation to go and speak to them and they tell us they are not divesting we’ve given up all the power we have.”

A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “The university recognises that students have a right to protest peacefully, providing that this does not unduly disrupt the conduct of the university’s normal business. However, by occupying the corridor and meeting room they are causing significant disruption.”

The protest comes after some protesters were previously denied access to water or toilet facilities. The students took to twitter to share that their access to heating and Wi-Fi is cut off from 5pm-8am. 

 Kayleigh added: “People can support us by tweeting/posting their support online and tagging @OfficialUoM to let them know there is wider support for divestment. E-mailing the vice-chancellor or registrar and expressing disappointment in their handling of our occupation is also very helpful for us.”