A minimum of 215 Manchester Uni Freshers have confirmed their plans to withhold over £300,000 in a strike over their halls of accommodation rent. A first estimate worked out that £307,000 would be withheld, however new members joining the strike means the amount is set to be even higher. The group have since created both Twitter and Instagram accounts to document their journey and announce new information.
The students have cited a number of reasons for their strike, most deriving from rigid Co-vid restrictions:
- Lack of University support
- Having had a false dream sold to them (most argue they would’ve stayed home if they’d known conditions would be as bad as they are)
- Continuing to pay extortionate fees for a much worse experience (most students are trapped inside their security-manned halls like cells for the majority of the day)
- Poor services (Bathroom/kitchen facilities, WiFi, access to materials and equipment etc.)
Floods, pests and smashed windows — students in University of Manchester accommodation say they've been plagued by "unsafe" conditions. They are now threatening a rent strike.
Read more: https://t.co/fRYqXwA6QV pic.twitter.com/8RzrolQaKE
— The Big Issue (@BigIssue) October 19, 2020
The specific demands to be met are:
- A minimum of 40% reduction in accommodation fees for the remainder of the academic year
- To offer all students a no-penalty early release clause from their tenancy contracts for both this year and the next academic years
- To improve the standard of support for students in halls of residence (including day-to-day support such as mental health, and also comprehensive Co-vid support packages for flats isolating)
- No penalties for those participating in the rent strike
Our demands: pic.twitter.com/ueb2rHZFbx
— UoM Rent strike (@rentstrikeUoM) October 22, 2020
The University of Manchester has insisted that students have an informed choice of whether they choose to work at home or at their halls of accommodation, but that the advice given by the government suggests that students should remain in their halls unless absolutely necessary. They have also argued that they do currently offer a comprehensive support package for all university members, and shall continue to do so.
[THREAD] We have a wide range of resources to support you with your mental health, outlined below.
If you need additional support with your wellbeing which is not covered below, please email [email protected] and one of our team will be in touch.
— The University of Manchester (@OfficialUoM) October 22, 2020
The strike follows the incredibly sad news of Finn Kitson’s passing earlier this month, a student at Manchester University who suffered from severe anxiety and died at his university halls. His father has since confirmed that he was incredibly distressed over the Co-vid restrictions in place.
Similar rent strikes also appear to be starting at other universities, such as Bristol. One can only presume it will be a matter of time before such is common place across the country. Are students at your university striking or unhappy with the way things have been handled since the start of the academic year? Be sure to let us know @pieradiouk.