Lancaster University students spearhead rent strikes

The university is ‘profiteering off’ and ‘misleading students’ when it should be helping them

Since the beginning of the current academic year, Lancaster University students have found themselves restricted from the services they are paying for. Coronavirus travel restrictions and lockdowns have resulted in students being unable to use their campus accommodation, as well as having no promised in-person teaching or use of library facilities.

Due to this, a group of students have formed a Lancaster University rent strike.

They are petitioning for:

  1. A 50% rent reduction for students living on campus
  2. A full rent waiver for students who are unable to access their rooms
  3. Meaningful action to improve the provision of essential student services, such as mental health support
  4. A guarantee that students face no repercussions for participating in strike action

The Lancaster Tab talked to the group, to find out more information on the strike.

Who are you?

Rent Strike Lancaster are a group of students from various societies and groups on campus with the shared aim of “repeating last year’s rent strike success, which managed to win millions of pounds back from the University.”

Why have you set up the rent strike?

The group began to mobilise after witnessing the “abysmal” response the University has made to the COVID-19 pandemic. The group have criticised the university for “profiteering off and misleading students” instead of helping them.

A spokesperson for the group went on to elaborate: “University management currently stands to rake in enormous profits from accommodation many students now aren’t even allowed to use by law. They could’ve anticipated this and allowed students to exit their contracts if the situation changed, but instead, they promised the student experience and delivered nothing.

“We believe the situation as it currently stands is acceptable, but that it can only be changed through collective action and solidarity. The response we’ve had shows that the demand was there, it just needed a spark to get going.”

How many people are involved?

“At the time of writing, we’ve had over 530 people sign our open letter, 450 of whom are willing to withhold rent.”

This successful student response has all been achieved in less than 24 hours, Rent Strike Lancaster is hoping to see these numbers increase further in the coming days.

How will the rent strike happen?

The group initially hoped to only to get a sense of numbers for potentially holding a strike in the summer term, but given the response, they’ve decided to act now.

The group are sending their open letter to the vice-chancellor on Thursday morning (7/1/21). They maintain that strike action is not inevitable “if management responds with concessions.” However, if concessions are not made “students are prepared to withhold rent until our demands are met.”

Sign the open letter to Lancaster University VC regarding campus rent here.

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