Nerf wars, political workshops and movie nights: Life inside the Manchester Uni occupation
‘The more rooms we have the more disruption we can cause to pressure the Uni to meet our demands’
At 6pm on Wednesday, a group of students began occupying the Engineering Building A, the Samuel Alexander building and the John Owens Building. The students are calling on the university to:
- Meet the rent strike demands (which include a 30 per cent rent rent refund, a 30 per cent rent reduction on future payments, a three year rent cap in halls and a promise from UoM to not take disciplinary action against rent strikers)
- Provide a £1,500 payment to every student to bring the maintenance loan in line with inflation.
- Meet the UCU demands.
The occupation has certainly got the university’s attention and students say they will not leave the buildings until their demands are met. A spokesperson for the university said whist the “normal working of the university is continuing”, the university “continues to monitor the situation carefully”.
The students are currently sleeping on sofas and mats on the floor and have assured The Manchester Tab they have access to a kitchen, showers and toilets. Taking to Instagram, Manchester Rent Strike has called on fellow students to “come and join us!”, adding: “More overnight occupiers wanted.”
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“The more rooms we have the more disruption we can cause to pressure the Uni to meet our demands,” the students say. A Manchester Tab poll found 86 per cent of students support the action taken by the occupiers.
But what is life actually like inside the occupation? One occupier of Sam Alex told The Manchester Tab: “We are running political education sessions for students and putting on movie nights. Holding this space isn’t just about getting our demands met. It’s a chance to share skills as activists and network among student organisers.”
The Samuel Alexander occupiers started their Friday morning with pastries donated by the UCU and then hung up a new banner.
One of the occupiers, who wishes to remain anonymous, told us: “When the day is over we get up to plenty of mischief as well. Last night we had a transmasc wrestling tournament, a nerf war and an Irish folk song karaoke session.”
Over the weekend, the group has set up a fundraiser in the hope of raising £9,250 for funding essential supplies, potential fines and legal advice. So far £455 has been raised.
Occupiers of Engineering building A have been exploring the building and uploading their finds to TikTok. So far the students have found a rom full of “hazardous air” and a lift for firefighters only.
The occupiers have also made videos ranking the best places to sleep in Sam Alex, showing their pulley system to get supplies into John Owens and celebrating 100 hours of the occupation. Manchester Rent Strike’s videos have amassed a total of 374,000 likes.
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• BREAKING: Manchester Rent Strike have taken the whole senior management building