The Free Hetherington

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The Free Hetherington was created on the 1st of February 2011 when, 13 University Gardens, University of Glasgow, previously the Hetherington Research Club, was occupied by students. The occupation quickly established itself as a hub for the university’s anti-cuts movement. It was widely used by a range of political groups and campaigns for meetings and social and educational events. Prior to its occupation, 13 University Gardens had been lying vacant since February 2010 when the research club had been forced to close through financial difficulties and the withdrawal of support from the university. On the 22nd of March 2011 the occupiers were asked to leave by the University. They refused and when a large crowd of supporters gathered outside the building Strathclyde Police forcibly evicted the protesters. The protesters and their supporters then moved directly to the university’s senate offices. In return for vacating the senate offices the students were allowed to return to the Hetherington and continue their occupation. Over the course of the occupation the Free Hetherington played host to many notable figures including Billy Bragg, Ken Loach, Liz Lochead, Tom Leonard, Mark Steel and David Rovics. After negotiations with university management the occupiers agreed to leave the Hetherington on the condition of the following commitments: 1. No more course cuts; 2. No compulsory redundancies; 3. A new postgraduate club, to be opened in the next year; 4. No cuts for student services, a guarantee of transparency with the SRC (Student Representative Council); 5. A public meeting with the principal Anton Muscatelli, where students and staff may address their worries; 6. No repercussions from the University for staff or students involved in the occupation; 7. An assurance that no information will be volunteered to the police about people involved. The occupation ended on the 31st of August 2011 and is believed to have been the longest running UK university occupation in history.

The Free Hetherington Collection is now part of the Spirit of Revolt Archive and contains a wide range of materials including: limited accounts and evidence of correspondence with the university; an array of campaign literature and posters; postcards and letters from around the world expressing solidarity with the occupation; a small collection of photographs from the occupation and related events; news cuttings relating to the Free Hetherington and the student protest movement; leaflets and posters advertising events in the Free Hetherington; and a collection of items created by those involved in the occupation including signs indicating occupation rules, wall charts with ideas for actions, rotas and information about the occupation and other ephemeral products of the occupation collected before the occupiers left the Free Hetherington.

Information taken from Spirit of Revolt Archive

Posted by John Couzin.