Lancaster Uni cuts hot water and electricity: Life inside the Charles Carter occupation

There has been no electricity in the daytime and intermittent hot water

As of the evening of Monday 13th February, the Charles Carter building has been barricaded and occupied by over a dozen students from Demilitarise Lancaster.

The group, who were also responsible for the occupation of Margaret Fell last term, have said that their demands include, “university Management actively support the UCU demands, cuts ties with all arms companies, and agrees to not take disciplinary action against any of the occupiers.”

We spoke to one of the students inside the occupation about security taking down their barricades, their lack of electricity, and morale inside the building.

“It’s lots of meetings”

Whilst today has been primarily taken up with the rally outside Charles Carter, life inside an occupation consists of, “having like a lot of meetings and workshops and basically like discussing future strategies and where we want to like take the movement forward.”

Morale is also pretty high right now, mainly thanks to the rally earlier. The student we spoke to said, “there’s not too much stress going around right now, in large parts because of how well we have cooperated during the course of the occupation.”

Electricity has come and gone

When asked about security attempting to enter the building, the student said: “Because of course when we entered the building, we barricaded all the entrances – the main entrance doors, all of the fire exits. Security the morning afterwards, basically pretty much immediately tried to take down one of the barricades and enter. We were able to construct another barricade like basically behind the one they took down. So they are they’re currently unable to enter the building itself. But they were able to access a section of it. It’s like a very small section.

“After they did that they essentially cut off the electricity from the building. Basically the only electricity that was happening in the building was just a couple of emergency lights, and eventually they turned off as well.”

This has meant for the protesters, the fridges haven’t worked and neither have any kettles – any food they have brought in has been going off much quicker than anticipated.

The occupiers aren’t sure, but have their guesses for how this may have been done, saying: “We’re not sure but we think the controls the electricity might have been to like the controls might have been in that section where they were breaking [the barricade] because we know we know the water boiler was in that section. And we have had trouble with getting hot water over the past few days. So we think that they wanted to break into that taking to gain access to the electricity and water.”

The students have regained some access to electricity, and told us, “it seems to have been a daily routine. When there has been sunlight the electricity has been off because there’s no trouble seeing when there’s natural light. And then once it’s turned nighttime, and the emergency power has been like really low because that does keep on some of the lights, as well as a really annoying fire alarm, they do turn it on again. Over nighttime essentially.”

“We can’t navigate between floors”

This has been the main concern for the students, as it has impacted their ability to cook food. Demilitarise Lancs also shared a post on its Instagram of the stairs in the Charles Carter building without the lights, where it is almost pitch black. The student added to this, saying “in the staircase, it becomes pitch black, like it is impossible to see there without a torch. If we’re using our phone battery, and it runs out of power – we essentially can’t navigate between floors.”

The student did say that they have been in touch with the uni, telling us, “Basically their response has basically been quite useless. You know, they essentially they gave like a non response when we asked them about it. I think the complaints from the from the Students Union have allowed to like keep the power on for that like, you know, half the day.”

via @noarmslancs on Instagram

“It’s essentially intimidation tactics”

When asked what they wanted to say to the university, the student we spoke to said, “what I would want to say is that, I think that their their willingness to turn off electricity and also hot water, kind of shows that they very much don’t care about the well being of the citizens who are currently occupying the building because Security have tried to break in the name of welfare, in the name of like, trying to, like keep us safe and trying to make sure that everything’s like all right inside the building.

“The fact that is the uni has been aiding intimidation tactics – because there’s really no other way to call turning off the electricity –  that the uni have been engaging in that, kind of shows that that’s just them essentially just wanting to get the building back at all costs.”

Lancaster University has been approached for comment.

Pictures via Demilitarise Lancs

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