Student rent strikers occupy Manchester halls tower block

They intend to occupy the building until the university agrees to meet to discuss their demands

Students from UoM Rent Strike, Students Before Profit and 9K4WHAT? are currently occupying Owens Park Tower in Fallowfield.

This comes after the university erected fences around student halls without warning, a move which cost the university £11k as a part of “new security measures”.

A protest went ahead on the same Thursday evening, with hundreds in attendance as students tore down the fences in response. Organised by SAFER group, a further protest also went ahead on Sunday. The university has since confirmed it isn’t taking action against the protesting students.

In an open letter addressed to Vice-Chancellor Dame Nancy Rothwell, the occupiers have said: “This occupation is a result of the university’s superficial and absent response to the demands set out by the UoM Rent Strike.

“Even amidst the calls for transparency between the governing body and the students, you have still failed to provide us with a meeting to merely discuss these demands, much less to implement them.”

via UoM rent strike

The demands are set out by protest groups UoM Rent Strike and Students Before Profit: “a meeting must be planned between the rent strike and your administration; a rent reduction of at least 40 per cent; to offer all students no-penalty early release clause from their tenancy contracts; increase the standard of support for students in halls of residence (food, laundry and post for isolating flats; better security; faster responses to complaints about standards of living e.g. broken fridges); a commitment to no staff redundancies whilst the pandemic continues; and no punishment for rent strikers and/or tower occupiers.”

via UoM rent strike

A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “We are aware of the protest by a handful of students in an empty residential building. We have made it clear to them that they shouldn’t be there and that they may also be in contravention of current national Health Protection Regulations.

“We are already engaging with elected Students’ Union representatives about many of the issues being highlighted by the protestors. The University is fully committed to freedom of expression.”

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