LSE Fee Strike Rally held to protest the university’s ‘indifference’

Jeremy Corbyn was among the list of speakers

The LSE Fee Strike Rally, hosted by three LSE student campaigns (the LSE Rent Strike, the LSE Fee Strike and Justice for LSE Cleaners), took place on Wednesday 28th April.

The “static demonstration” was held at the front of the Centre Building at the LSE campus, where students protested “against the indifference of the LSE to the student-staff struggle”. The campaigns are pushing for “better treatment of the LSE staff and students” and “demanding pandemic compensation and free education”.

Various speakers, including Jeremy Corbyn, showed up to speak at the rally.

The LSE Fee Strike Rally was organised so that students could “support the fee strike, rent strikes, and our cleaners” by attending and choosing to not pay their tuition fees this term. The organisers “cooperated with the LSESU” for the event and notified campus security, holding the event when the LSE Fee Strike officially started at 12.00pm on Wednesday, which coincided with the third payment deadline for tuition fee payment.

The rally poster and Instagram page list a set of demands that were made after being “voted on and agreed by the strikers”. The demands include “30 per cent tuition fee refund for all”, “no staff cuts” and meeting “the LSE Rent Strike and Justice for Cleaners‘ demands”.

The rally was organised in accordance with Covid-safety guidelines, with the posters reading “Wear a Mask – Groups of 6 – Test Negative”.

In a press release, the organisers said that the rally was to help “mobilise students and push management into action.

“The state of affairs means that hundreds of students are withholding their tuition fees and rents in favour of tuition and rent reductions, while management continues to insist that the School’s performance is up to standard. The LSE has also neglected the state of its cleaners, who continue to work on precarious contracts with low pay, despite their increased necessity.”

They continued, saying:

“While the government and universities battle over who should assume the blame and cost burden for the current situation, students and staff continue to suffer without sufficient aid.

“Across the board, students and staff have been made to bear the cost burden of the LSE’s pandemic expenses. Students feel entirely forgotten, made to pay full fees and rents despite education being fully online and halls amenities and services being reduced. Teaching staff often work more hours now than pre-pandemic as a result of online education. Meanwhile, the bosses contend that the university cannot afford to compensate these groups.”

LSE, fee strike rally, students

Many people showed up to the rally

Jeremy Corbyn’s presence at the rally demonstrated the strikers’ statement that “Labour and students must work together to be successful, as they are embroiled in the same struggle.”

The line-up of speakers also included politicians and speakers from various organisations, who “called on students and staff to unite in their fight for justice”.

Some of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech can be viewed in the tweet below:

Tori Anderson, the lead organiser of the LSE Rent Strike, said:

“There is an excess of pent up energy among students to protest against the injustice faced since the academic year began. Covid-19 has subdued direct action tactics, but as lockdown continues to lift, student voices will only be amplified. We have been silenced for far too long by online platforms where senior management can simply mute you if they don’t want to hear you speak. Finally, with this rally, our voices can be heard unfettered.”

When approached for comment, a spokesperson from LSE said:

“Staff across LSE have worked tirelessly to ensure our education is engaging, challenging and rewarding and we are confident that this year we have provided a high-quality learning experience. We are continuing to adapt our education offer in the changed circumstances while protecting staff and students.

“More widely, we are committed to supporting all students through this challenging time. Support available includes access to free counselling and wellbeing services and financial assistance for those in need.

“Students who were unable to return to LSE-managed halls earlier this year due to government advice or travel difficulties, had their accommodation fees waived until the date they returned.

“Students who did not wish to return to LSE-managed halls at all this year, and who vacated their accommodation, have had their contracts ended and their fees halted.”

Also speaking about the cleaning staff, they said:

“Our cleaners are a key part of the LSE community and are on the same terms and conditions as other LSE staff. This includes earning at least the London Living Wage, with a generous pension, leave and sick pay.”

For more information, pictures and videos of the LSE Fee Strike Rally, check out their Instagram and Twitter.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

UCL Provost Michael Spence says students need to be taught how to ‘disagree well’

Extinction Rebellion activists smash at least 19 windows protesting at Canary Wharf HSBC

‘We need the Government to step up and do the right thing,’ says UCL SU Officer