Cambridge University students announce rent strike

Students are demanding a rent cut, guaranteed job security for staff and for all students to have the option to study remotely

Students at the University of Cambridge have launched a rent strike today.

The group “Rent Strike Cambridge” is pledging to withhold rent payments for Lent term to all Cambridge colleges until the university meets their set of demands, also published by the group alongside their campaign announcement.

A poster for the rent strike campaign (credit: @RentStrikeCam via Twitter)

In a press release issued today (23/11), Rent Strike Cambridge set out its demands for the university in full:

“1. The University of Cambridge and all colleges commit to a 30 per cent rent reduction for the 2020/2021 academic year, and a permanent rent reduction of 10 per cent across all colleges.

2. The University allows students not to keep term, and gives all students including international students permission to carry out their studies remotely should they wish to.

3. The University and all Colleges commit to no COVID-19 job losses and immediately revokes the hiring and promotions freeze.

4. The University and all Colleges take no disciplinary action against rent strikers.”

If these demands are not deemed to have been met by the university and its colleges, the group has committed to rent strike, withholding rent payments to colleges for Lent term.

The campaign launched overnight last night (22/11) with members of the group putting up posters advertising the campaign across Cambridge. At 11am this morning, the group also dropped a banner of Garret Hostel Lane Bridge and will be hosting an open meeting and rally at 6pm this evening, where the group will be joined by NUS President Larissa Kennedy.

Students at the banner drop at Garrett Hostel Lane Bridge (credit: Rent Strike Cambridge)

The group have also published a ‘Rent Strike Pack‘ in which they explain the campaign, how it will work, the group’s demands and how students across Cambridge can get involved, including a template for a JCR statement for college Students’ Unions and instructions on “how to start a college rent strike”.

The press release explains that the decision to rent strike “follows months of student dissatisfaction with the University and Colleges’ response to the pandemic.”

Cambridge students involved in the action join students at the University of Manchester and the University of Bristol, who are also on rent strikes.

Rent Strike Cambridge said: “If you are angry, stressed, concerned, overwhelmed and burnt out, this is not your fault. This is the fault of a University which has let you down, and let us all down.”

They continue: “This is why we are striking. We are striking for students who have been isolated for weeks, for students paying extortionate rents, for underpaid staff forced to work overtime with the threat of redundancy hanging over them.

“The Vice-Chancellor and Heads of Colleges have failed all of us and we won’t let this continue. We call on students to join us now!”

The University of Cambridge Press Office has been contacted for comment.

Feature image credit: Rent Strike Cambridge