Surrey Students Protest Over Staff Cuts by Charlotte West

On Wednesday 6th March, University of Surrey students gathered outside the Austin Pearce building to protest against the university's announcement to make hundreds of staff redundant following financial challenges "due to uncertainty over Brexit."

Around 30 students joined the protest, including Student Union part-time officers, Bethany Dawson, Jacob Allen, Ak Gurung and Alex Simpson. When speaking to Jacob Allen, he emphasised the importance of the protest, stating that "the staff's working environment is our learning environment, and when there are less academics, less cleaners, less grounds-man, it damages the university experience the students are getting; it just makes it a worse place."

The walking protest set off from outside the Austin Pearce building towards Senate House, they spent some time in the amphitheater, before finishing outside the Student Union building. While in the amphitheater the students chanted, "Max Lu get out, we know what you're all about: cuts, job losses, money for the bosses", as prospective students walked passed on their applicant day.

Photo sourced from the Surrey Cut the Rent Facebook page

Organised by the Surrey Cut the Rent group, this is unlikely to be the last we hear from the students. Particularly after the protest ended with a speech from Nick Werren, former SU presidential candidate and one of the organisers of the strike. He urged the group that while the protest may have "ruffled some feathers [...] you don't just do one action.

"How does it make sense that they're making £300 million a year in income and they've got 9% growth, yet they want to cut staff massively? It literally doesn't add up. We need to ask them, so that they treat us like actual people, like adults, and they don't treat us like units and products. There will be another action that will come around and I hope you guys all come and join."

Throughout the protest the group were also handing out flyers to passing students. It repeated the statistics Werren spoke about in his speech, as evidenced in the 2017/18 financial report, as well as claiming that "Surrey is at breaking point."

Current voice zone member of the SU, Ak Gurung, also spoke at the protest, insisting, "We should care about the people that we go to university with, whether they're students or whether they're staff - so don't just let it stop here."

It was also discussed at the protest that this is not an issue that only Surrey faces - other universities nationwide will also begin to go through similar processes as a result of Brexit.

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