“Can we do what we did during the strike all the time?” Notes from the Leicester picket line

The current strike is over, but really it is not over. It has been an amazing experience, especially at the very start of my post. I got to know so many great people from across the university, and also from my own department who I had just been passing so far. Together, we made it through all kinds of weather conditions, brutally early mornings, cancelled teaching and field trip dramas, disturbing negotiation news and financial worries – accompanied by tasty food (hot samosas with chilli sauce were my favourite), overexcited strike dogs, and a constant stream of tea and coffee from the admin staff. Rain, snow, awful UUK offers and VC communications – we got this!

It was also exciting to follow academics from other universities on twitter and their respective analyses of the situation. People all over the country worked hard to research evidence in support of our protest and to lobby via email and in person, and made funny posts, food and music on top of this. This contributed greatly to raising the morale and inspiring further shenanigans such as picket loyalty cards and strike dog/dinosaur accounts.

At Leicester, the strike intersected with a protest against our proposed Chancellor, David Willetts, which led to a student occupation and other creative protests such as a ‘People’s Chancellor Election’ (Helen Sharman was elected) and a panto performance on the final day. As one colleague aptly put it: “De Montfort gets Doreen Lawrence, and we get David Willetts – really??” At this point, a massive thanks is due to the students who supported us during the strike, and also to ALL students for putting up with the strike. Again: if you have any questions or worries about the strike, talk to your striking lecturers – in the classrooms or on the picket lines.

Since no agreement with UUK has been reached, and people have enjoyed getting together over the strike, the desire has been voiced to continue practices such as music making, baking, crafting and organising inter-departmental discussions that are not research-income focused, whether there is going to be another strike or not. For many, this coming Monday feels like a testing ground: how will things have changed? And: how long will this change last? In the pub today, some people talked about changing their teaching practices, others talked about changing their research practices. I hope that ‘watch this space’ is something we can live up in the near future…

Snowy start to the strike

Visits from Red Leicester Choir brightened up the rainy days

Scientific protest against our Vice Chancellor, Paul Boyle

Student occupiers are celebrated

International Women’s Day “pussy riot”, just before the big dance off

Speeches and vote against the new USS offer

Main occupation during the strike: drumming! (bongos, cowbell, bass drum)

The People’s Chancellor Election

“Friday I’m in Love” carnival: final dance-off – with massive inflatable penis from the panto

panto_crowd

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