Occupying art students refuse to leave the Cass

Visual protest: students in the windows of the Cass building. Photograph: Abdiwali Samatar

Students are protesting against London Metropolitan University’s (LMU) plan to sell the Cass building and replace it with flats.

Under the plans the LMU would sell the Cass building for a whopping £50 million, relocate students to the university’s Holloway campus in Islington and slash course places by 2,000 to 10,000.

Led by the ‘Occupy the Cass’ movement and former student and Turner Prize-winner Jeremy Deller, students have been occupying the building since Wednesday 9 December while hundreds of supporters have marched outside the campus.

The links between crafts, art, technology and architecture in the Cass building is what makes the school so special, Mr Deller told the Guardian.

On the evening of Monday 14 December they held a ‘visual protest’, standing against the windows of the building.

Students are worried that the space and facilities at the Holloway campus will not measure up to those at the Cass building, and that courses and jobs will be cut.

The students launched the occupation to oppose the suspension of the Dean, Professor Robert Mull, who publicly refused to support the move.

A letter of protest has been signed in the Guardian by 25 distinguished architects, designers and artists, as well as by the director of the Tate Sir Nicholas Serota and Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow .

Gathering all the department into the one campus in Holloway would threaten the successful story of the Cass, they said. “London Metropolitan as an institution has had a troubled record of senior management. But the Cass is successful.”

Malcolm Gillies, the Vice Chancellor of the university, said in a statement: “We believe this will benefit our students, who will enjoy an enhanced student experience, and our staff, who will have more opportunities to collaborate.

“The people and businesses of Islington will also see benefits to the local economy.”

Professor Mull, the former Dean, continues teaching and carrying out his duties as Professor and director of architecture.

In a joint statement Professor Mull and the LMU said: “Professor Mull’s duties as Dean of faculty have been suspended while discussions take place about his role on the university’s senior management team. Both the university and Professor Mull are making every effort to find a positive way forward.”