A group of students at the University of Manchester (UoM) went into occupation in Owen Park Tower building at the Fallowfields halls of residence on Thursday.
They are protesting against their university's treatment of students and staff during the pandemic.
Natalie is a third year undergraduate at the university. She told Socialist Worker that students occupied the building at around 10am.
In a video posted by the Manchester Socialist Worker Student Society (SWSS), first year student Izzy said, “We are occupying this building because we’ve done rent strikes. We’ve done protests. But the university is still not listening to us.”
Mattie said, “The university is refusing to meet with the UoM rent strike group to discuss our demands.
“We have been pushed into taking drastic measures”, they both say.
Mattie outlined that the demands of the occupation were the same as those of the rent strike group. These demands include rent reduction for this year, a non-penalty release from their tenancy for those who want to leave, and more support for students in accommodation.
Mattie also said that they would be adding a demand for no staff member to be made redundant.
“We are also adding that there should be no punishment or repercussions for students on rent strike,” she said.
Additionally, the rent strike group are demanding that the university meets with them.
Over 300 students are currently withholding their rent at the university. And according to the UoM rent strike group students were sent emails that threatened to kick students off of their courses if they continued with this.
The occupation comes off the back of inspiring scenes, where students at the Fallowfield halls of tore down a set of fences that had been erected without notice.
The president and vice chancellor Nancy Rothwell of UOM was forced to write a written apology to students as a result.
The students at UoM are mounting an impressive fightback to a neoliberal university that has put their health second for months.