The occupation of Bramber House by protesters has now entered its second day, with the University of Sussex reportedly in the process of taking legal action against the protesting students.
Yesterday, students stormed the conference centre on the top floor of the building, demanding that the University do more to protect former student Luqman Onikosi from deportation by the Home Office.
Mr Onikosi contracted Hepititis B while studying an undergraduate degree at Sussex, but after his visa expired, attempts to stay in the UK on medical grounds have so far failed.
A demonstration this afternoon was attended by over 100 people who marched to Bramber House, chanting ‘Whose campus? Our campus!’ One protester in the demo addressed the crowd, saying: “They [Sussex management] claim the University is radical but when a member of our community is going to be deported to his death, they do nothing.” After this, roughly 30 people were able to break through security lines and join the occupation.
This evening, students occupied a larger section of the conference centre, including a kitchen, providing them with further access to food and supplies.
Security are currently preventing others to enter into the conference entre to others, including the student television network, UniTV, with the occupiers resorting to using a bucket attached to a rope to bring supplies up to the occupation zone. Moreover, it has been confirmed that the University of Sussex are working on getting an injunction against the occupation to allow for the protesters’ eviction.
Students in the occupation claim they are safe and, with the help from supporting students, have plenty of provisions, suggesting that a longer-term occupation may take place. However, they have set up a petition demanding that security provide protesters with free access in and out of the occupation zone.
In a short interview posted to YouTube, one of the protesters demanded that open access be given in and out of the conference centre to the area to be a “democratic space” and allow others to show solidarity with their protest.
Support for the protesters has come from across the country, with the executive member of the University and College Union (UCU) Sean Vernell saying in a statement: “The students at Sussex University are an inspiration to us all for taking such action in defence of one of their own. They are demonstrating what the old adage ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’ really means.”
The conference centre has been the scene of several occupations in the past, most notably in early 2013, when students occupied Bramber House for six weeks to protest against the privatisation of student services on Sussex’s campus. In that incident, Sussex obtained a court order for their eviction, leading to a forced removal of the students with four arrests.
More to follow…