Writers with connections to UEA have supported the UCU strike by hosting alternative teach-in events and cancelling speaking events.
Wednesday 7 March saw a ‘Writers for the Strike’ evening held at the Scholar’s Bar, in Union House. The event was organised in just two days, following the cancellation of Costa Book Award-winning author Jon McGregor’s appearance at the UEA Literary Festival. McGregor said he cancelled in solidarity with those deciding to strike. “I have never crossed a picket line in my life, and am not about to start now,” he said.
Hosted by Philip Langeskov and Jean McNeill, the line-up of 13 speakers included poets, novelists and journalists and comprised of names such as Sarah Perry, Megan Bradbury and James Meek.
The selection was completed by UEA’s own award-winning writers teaching in its school of Literature, Drama and Creative such as Sophie Robinson and Rebecca Stott. Students were given the opportunity to contribute through open mic pieces in solidarity with their academics.
UEA UCU President Brett Mills said: “We hope the university will seek to minimise any further disruption to students by ensuring that Universities UK commits to proper negotiations to resolve this dispute.”
McGregor’s event was not the first to be cancelled in support of the strikes. A UEA Live evening scheduled for last Thursday was cancelled following the headliner Joanna Walsh deciding to step down.
The Writers Centre Norwich tweeted a series of statements on her behalf, which said: “I’m deeply sorry to feel I have to cancel tonight’s reading of Seed.
“As a PhD candidate at the University of East Anglia, I must acknowledge the input of my supervisors and other UEA staff into developing the work and respect their decision to strike today, which I wholeheartedly support.”
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges confirmed he would not be giving his lecture ‘How We Can Fight Back Against the Catastrophe We Are Living Under’ at the university as intended. Instead, he said he would relocate the event off campus to The Forum, with donations from the event given to the UCU Strike Fund. Baroness Patricia Hollis also rearranged a talk off campus in support of the strike action.