Socialist Worker

Students build resistance to bullying universities

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2731

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Students are occupying in Manchester, and calling on others to show solidarity


Students are using rent strikes, occupations and protests to take on appalling treatment by their universities. 

Since October students in Bristol and Manchester have taken part in rent strikes.

Over 300 students at the University of Manchester (UoM) are currently withholding their rent. 

More rent strike protests were planned for Friday this week.

A petition for no-penalty releases from accommodation contracts, rent reductions and deposit refunds for international students was set to be heard by Bristol university’s Board of Trustees.

And students living at the Fallowfields university accommodation in Manchester are fighting the university’s contemptuous treatment of students and staff. 

Students in halls of residence are being met with increasing levels of intimidation by the police and security after protests erupted earlier this month. 

Witnessed

In a video shared on social media a black student was pinned against a wall by a security guard. According to the victim’s friend, who witnessed the ordeal, the guard thought the student was a drug dealer. 

Throughout the video the security guard asserted that the student didn’t look like he “belonged here.” 

The student can be heard saying in the video, “I’m a University of Manchester student. They’re trying to snatch my card out of me. You see, I take this as racial profiling.”

The occupation of the Owens Park tower on the Fallowfields accommodation by nine activists has led to an increased level of security and police presence. 

Chris who is currently inside the occupation said, “after the fences were taken down by students, the university management thought that there would be violent protests by students.

“Occupying students and students living in student accommodation are doing nothing wrong. On the first night of the occupation we saw riot vans, security and community ­support officers.”

Over 190 staff at the University signed a letter to the university’s president to express their “disgust” over how students are being treated.

And an online rally organised by the occupiers and UoM rent strikers last Friday drew over 450 people.

“UoM failed its students. It has let us down at every stage” said ­occupier Lucy. It promised we could have access to face to face teaching, freshers’ events and parties. It couldn’t keep any of those promises.

“The university was so desperate to get students back, it has ­chartered flights from China to grab the £20,000 plus in tuition fees that international students pay.”

Occupier Izzy told the rally, “Our vice chancellor Nancy Rothwell is paid £260,000 a year while some staff are on a minimum wage and students are being fenced in.

“In the summer students went out to protest at the A-Levels scandal, now this is happening.

“We are showing that we will resist, and we won’t be manipulated.”


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