Day 6: Building the shadow university (in full sun)

Week 3 of our action began with cold temps but welcome sun. We were joined by comrades from Coventry TUC, bringing both moral and material support:

Continuing the tradition of teach-outs on the picket line, Rebecca Brown (outgoing SU Environment and Ethics Officer) chaired a panel titled “Decolonisation/Decarbonisation,” on the necessary links between social and climate justice action. Featuring speakers that included newly elected SU officers and Coventry MP Zarah Sultana, the session drove home the need to attend to climate breakdown in both global and local terms.












Naomi Waltham-Smith then gave a rousing talk on the role of listening in political education:

We might think of activities like these as aspects of the shadow university – not the university represented in official brochures and PR, but the university that comes into being through the expertise, dedication and commitment of those participating in this strike to improve working conditions for all of us.

Thanks, as ever, to student and staff stalwarts on the line:




As we continue with the week’s picket schedule, remember that with this action we are holding the line against immensely destructive practices imposed by HE officials across the country. Let’s continue to show them whose university this really is.


Day 2: Online, on the line

A gusty day 2, but without the rain, saw visitors arriving at the picket line from the wind’s four quarters – local MPs, postal workers, UNITE and writers from Boston (Boston, USA, that is).

Zarah Sultana, recently elected MP for Coventry South, spoke of the need to continue standing up for workers’ rights in the current challenging environment.

Annette Ash from Warwick Estates and UNITE lent cross-union support, while representatives of the Communications Workers Union expressed solidarity from the midst of their own ongoing struggle with Royal Mail – which, like UCU’s, involves not just pay but the overall direction of the company, failure to uphold national agreements and the culture of the workplace.

And picketers gathered by the purple tent to hear Boston-based Nicole Aschoff, writer for Jacobin magazine and author of forthcoming book The Smartphone Society, lead a bracing teachout on changes in the political environment enabled by smartphone use. Carrying both promise and peril, social media extend and complicate the scope of political organizing, but at the same time – the audience seemed to agree – can’t substitute for the live presence of bodies on the line.

Here’s to Week 2 of our action, then – see you all then!

Day 5: You want sunshine, we got sunshine

As the weather has decided to end our narrative of struggle against elemental adversity – at least for now! – it’s appropriate that this triumphant Day 5 of the strike should showcase the bright sunlight of activist history (courtesy of today’s picket sponsors in the History department) and of ecopoetic expression (in response to today’s Global Climate Strike, and courtesy of co-sponsors the Department of English & Comparative Literary Studies).


We were heartened, as always, by the strong demonstrations of student support:

(English students support the strike!)

(Liberal Arts students support the strike!)

(Dogs support the strike!)

The Warwick Anti-Casualisation Committee unfurled its banner early this morning:

Meanwhile, the enormously powerful #unistory archive is growing and drawing more and more attention. This simple yet profound act of collective witness has been compared to the Occupy testimonies of a decade ago, and has already been widely circulated beyond Warwick. We are determined to highlight these stories of precarity, overwork, discrimination and struggle for all – including senior administrators – to see.

The day’s activities included a Climate Emergency Q&A hosted by the SU and a forum on “Narratives of Queer Islam: History, Politics, Protest” hosted by Warwick Pride and Warwick Queer History. Fusing scholarship, teaching and activism is a legacy of this action we aim to continue next week. Watch this space!