Students have been denied access to using rooms for teach-outs during the upcoming strike action
The Guild of Students has refused to allow its rooms to be used for teach-outs during the UCU strike action next week.
Teach-outs are where students, academics, and the public meet off-campus to learn in a non-university environment with a less formal atmosphere.
Birmingham University College Union (BUCU), who are organising the strike, were meeting with student groups to discuss holding teach-outs in the rooms at the Guild of Students.
However, in messages seen by Redbrick, Guild President Josh Williams refused this, informing them that the Guild had decided the rooms would be for independent study only.
Speaking to Redbrick about the decision, Williams said: ‘there was the suggestion of teach-outs to be held at the Guild by the trade unions on campus. With this, we would absolutely love to support this as we understand that the strike is taking the labour away from the employer.
‘However, we have pre-booked society bookings over the strike period which should be respected. Further, due to limited space and resources, we as an officer team would have to choose which students get to learn e.g. what year, course, school, STEM, accredited degrees etc. There is no fair mechanism to do this – especially as the strikes will be over the exam period.’
The Guild will support students in other ways during the strike action. Williams said that the Guild will raise student concerns over strike disruption with the University directly, such as asking the University to take substantial amounts of missing teaching into account in students’ marks.
‘Our role is to protect the interests of students – particularly on the academic side!’, he said.
He added that Guild rooms would all be available as study spaces for students who would not be comfortable going past the picket line to use university resources.
A spokesperson for BUCU told Redbrick: ‘we are disappointed that the Guild has taken the decision to not allow its space to be available for teach-outs on strike days.
‘In their statement on the UCU strike, the Guild Officers say they wish the Guild to “remain a welcoming, inclusive space with learning and student opportunities protected as a priority.” We feel that offering rooms at the Guild for teach-outs would be a great way to provide Birmingham students with opportunities to learn from our members and fellow students.
‘By denying us room bookings, the Guild is making it harder for our members to support students during the strike period and creating an unhelpful division between students and dedicated staff. We hope the Guild reconsiders its position on teach-outs.’
BUCU have told Redbrick that they still plan to hold teach-outs in other nearby venues. Up to date information will be posted on the ‘Everyone Out!’ Facebook event for the strike.
The Guild is not taking a stance on the strike, though in a statement the officer team did say that ‘we absolutely respect the right of UCU members to take industrial action’,
Supporting the strike was brought up through the Guild’s ‘Your Ideas’ submission platform. It was discussed in the Guild Policy Development Group but, without a unanimous agreement, it will have to be voted on.
Owing to how the Guild’s decision making process works, however, this vote on whether the Guild supports the strike will not happen until after the strike action has finished.
Academics will be striking from November 25th to December 4th. For the period November 28th to December 2nd, both support staff and academic staff will be on strike.