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  • Writer's pictureThe Gaudie

“The More You Try To Silence Us”: Campers Block Exits to University Office

Protestors gather outside the University Offices as Boyne meets with encampment leaders

By Kirsten Koss

Protestors march toward University Offices.
Protestors march toward the University Office. Photo Credit: Finn Abou El Magd

Elphinstone Lawn encampment leaders announced a ‘call to action’ Monday afternoon, which saw protestors descend on the University Office.

Prior to a prearranged meeting with the Principal, more than fifty students gathered at the site of the encampment at 15:45. Following a short briefing, protestors marched to the University offices, where students were due to meet Professor Boyne forty-five minutes later. 

As they processed toward the building, displaying signs and large flags, protestors joined in choruses of “UoA, shame on you!”

Settling outside the University Office, protestors cheered without cessation for 30 minutes, with chants such as “From Aberdeen to Gaza, occupation is a crime!”

The five student representatives set to meet with Principal Boyne were waved off with loud cheers as they entered into the building, with one protestor announcing over a megaphone:  

"We are out here to show we are more than five people. We are not going anywhere. 

“We won't stop till they disclose, divest, pledge and protect.”

Another protestor expressed discontent with the timing of the meeting: “Why did they give us the last thirty minutes of the day? How insulting!”

Whilst the meeting with the Principal got underway, protestors continued to chant in unison: “the more you try to silence us, the louder we will be!”

Notably, the main entrance to the building was locked whilst the meeting took place. 

Protestor holds sign.
One protestor's sign. Photo Credit: Kirsten Koss

Relationships between the campers and University senior managers have fractured in recent days over what society officials called a “condescending and insulting one-page response” to their demands. 

Protestors cheered loudly when one female protester shared the news of the recent warrant from the International Criminal Court: 

“There was an announcement today from the International Criminal Court,” she said.

“They are now seeking an arrest warrant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

As protestors waited for the five representatives to return, the chanting continued, stopping only for a hydration break in the warm spring sun. As the scheduled finish time for the meeting passed, the speaker encouraged the crowd: “reiterate to George Boyne… UoA, shame on you!”

The five students returned…

Ten minutes later than planned, the five students reemerged and were met with loud cheers from the crowd. One of the five began to layout the conversation between the students, Principal Boyne, and interestingly – the University Secretary Tracey Slaven, indicating the senior management team’s promises:

“After a 25-minute meeting with George Boyne, they [the University] are hiding behind a couple of things. We will hear on Thursday at the encampment – we are bringing them to us.”

The news that University officials will attend the camp at 13:00 on Thursday was met with cheers. However, the joy was short-lived as the speaker told the crowd that the University revealed a £90,000 indirect investment in Israel. The speaker continued, insisting that the University was acting with cowardice:

“The University is hiding behind the government. The government not acting means they don’t have to act. The response to Gaza is completely different to the response in Ukraine. We see no difference.”

“We see 35,000 dead and we’re going to be here to make sure they know that.”

A sit in begins

Protestors sit outside the University Offices.
Protestors stage a sit-in. Photo Credit: Finn Abou El Magd.

Following the update from the students, the crowd were asked if they were satisfied – as every protestor expressed frustration with the response, some loudly cheered: “let’s stay here”.

Protestors began covering the exits to the building, with one student yelling:

“We will sit here for as long as it takes, or until someone tells us to go!”

Other than a hasty exit from Director of People Debbie Dyker, the whereabouts of senior managers remains a mystery, with some suggesting Principal Boyne and Ms Slaven made a quick exit immediately after the meeting. 

When asked by The Gaudie how the University planned to resolve souring relations with the campers, a University spokesperson brushed over the question:

“The Principal and University Secretary had a helpful and constructive informal meeting with protesters and will continue that conversation later in the week.”

As tensions continue to rise, it remains to be seen if University management can satisfy the demands of campers, who fourteen-days on, don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.


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