Eli Ridder | The Avro Post
Students occupying the Senate Chamber at York University in support of the striking faculty union allowed The Avro Post to enter the sit-in and interview one of the students involved.
Karmah Dudin, fourth year political science at York, told me that they were largely not letting mainstream media inside the chamber, but that student journalists were allowed to enter, but I was not allowed to take any photos or videos.
The students involved have been in there since the last Senate meeting ended on Thursday, and have not left except to shower and change, Ms. Dudin told me.
“We’ve been getting a lot of support,” she said, explaining that people have been by to drop off supplies and even to join the occupation.
In regards to the statement York published earlier on Sunday, Dudin said her group “doesn’t really believe the support is genuine or really tangible”.
She described an incident where an individual that is part of the administration came, but not on behalf of York, to drop off care packages with toothpaste, deodorant and tooth brushes, saying “that is all that has been done”.
When I asked her if the Students for CUPE 3903 group would keep going until their four demands are met, she said very clearly: “yep”.
I asked her about how she thought it was all going to end as York does not appear open to meeting the demands, and she said “it was about something so much bigger” than classes continuing.
“This is about taking control of this campus, and taking control away from people who have a lot of corporate interests who are completely detached from the community, and giving it back to students and the workers and the teachers that really operate this university.”
She added: “if they don’t meet these demands, this is definitely going to grow, it’s already growing into something bigger.”
Dudin said over the weekend many new people joined the cause, some no affiliations.
York administration said in their Sunday statement that they wanted all non-students and CUPE 3903 union members to leave the chamber.
She avoided telling me whether there were CUPE 3903 members in the chamber, but said that the union was appreciative of the students support and that individuals “from all over the place” have come to support the occupation, without expanding.
In response to my final question over the atmosphere in the chamber and how occupiers were holding up, Diden admitted its tiring to occupy and the group has to face daily challenges, but said “people are extremely pumped up”.
“I’ll be honest with you, the administration’s response has actually energized people because we felt like it was undermining us and really got to people.”
“People are really ready to keep going.”
A video posted by City TV reporter Tammie Sutherland showed the state of the chamber on Mar. 23, the Friday after the first night the students had stayed over.
More than 20 of the @StudentsFor3903 slept overnight inside York U’s Senate Chamber. They vow to occupy the space until all classes at the university are cancelled during the strike. More on @BTtoronto in minutes. pic.twitter.com/8K7cMn2l3p
— Tammie Sutherland (@citytammie) March 23, 2018
It has not changed drastically since then, from what I saw. More signs were around the room, and it was busy around the time I was there, about 6:15 p.m. on Sunday night.
More details to follow. Image of the Senate Chamber sign early on Monday morning from Eli Ridder/The Avro Post.