The siege of the Radcliffe Camera by student protesters as part of a national rally against increasing tuition fees has finished, as the last students were evicted earlier today.
By 5pm today, most students had either been escorted off the premises by the police or walked out.
Occupied Oxford, the group organising the take over of the library, claimed in a press release last night that over a hundred Oxford University students were planning to occupy the building throughout the day today. They claimed they had no intention of leaving the premises until the University issued a statement saying they would not privatise.
The protest ended without any student arrests.
Protesters stormed the library during a march led through the city centre at around 2:00pm yesterday afternoon. Around fifty students climbed over the iron railings and formed a body barricade at the entrance to the building. The students then quickly occupied the lower reading room.
Once inside protesters played music through a boom box and climbed on the tables. Students working in the library were advised by campaigners to move to the upper reading room or join the protest.
The protest continued through the night, and a Facebook group, Demonstration: Support the Rad Cam Occupation, is inviting fellow students to join the campaign. Created by ‘Rad Cam’, the group says, “We have a day of events, workshops and teach-ins planned and we’d LOVE you to join us or show your support in any way you can.”
“Of course, if you want to bust through police lines to come in here and keep us company, we’d be delighted. (If someone can bring a kettle and a toaster, even better!!)”
Police remain stationed in Radcliffe Square, and students leaving the building are having their bags searched. No students are believed to have been arrested.
In an “Occupation Statement” posted on their website, the group states that their demands were “non-negotiable”.
The statement reads, “We – students and residents of Oxford from a range of institutions and backgrounds – are occupying the Radcliffe Camera because we oppose all public sector cuts. We stand in solidarity with those who are affected by the cuts and those who are resisting them.”
It continues, “We believe that education should be public and free for all. To this end we demand that the University of Oxford reiterate its opposition to education cuts and commit to not increasing fees for any courses.”
An anonymous protester inside the building told Cherwell that the occupation has been “an incredible success. We have got our message across that you can’t mess with student education.”
However, not all Oxford students have welcomed the occupation and a number of students are expressing their frustration at not being able to work in the library.
James Banks, a student at New College, criticised the protesters for targeting the building. He said, “What idiot thinks OULS wants to raise fees? They just want the libraries open, as do readers. As a reader I’d like to register my intense displeasure at this disturbance.”
Police are currently not allowing people into the library, although Occupied Oxford is keen to stress that readers may work in the upper reading room if allowed entrance.
In a further statement, the group wrote, “It has always been our intention to ensure the library is open to the community and we are committed to keeping the library open today.”
“If anyone is prevented from accessing the library, we would like to make clear that this is entirely the decision of the university, in direct opposition to our expressed wishes.”
Occupied Oxford is posting videos on youtube showing events taking place inside the library. To watch the video, use the link below: