Students end week long occupation inside John Owens Building but vow it’s ‘just the start’
The other occupations remain in place
Student occupiers inside the John Owens Building have left the building a week after they began their protest.
After seven days, the students have left the university’s senior management building but have promised: “This is just the start.”
The university had issued the students an ultimatum on Tuesday morning telling them they had to leave by 4pm on the same day or else they risked potential expulsion.
However the university was left with egg on its face after students ignored the demand and instead led a solidarity gig with supporters outside, chanting from windows: “Nancy, Nancy, Nancy, out, out, out” as well as the more poetic:
“Roses are red, Nancy,
“Violets are blue,
We’re not leaving, until you do too.”
The occupation, led by Manchester Rent Strike is calling on the university to:
- Meet the rent strike demands (which include a three year rent cap in halls and a 30 per cent rent refund).
- Provide a £1,500 payment to every student to bring the maintenance loan in line with inflation.
- Meet the UCU demands.
Yesterday the university decided to escalate its stance against the John Owens occupiers first cutting the university WiFi from the building and then telling occupiers they would turn off the heat.
Despite the John Owens occupation ending, students inside the other university buildings will continue their occupation.
The Rent Strike activists promised: “We will continue to organise against the University’s management and their inadequate response to the cost-of-living crisis faced by students and staff. The building has been held for over a week, during which the management have refused to open direct talks or engage with any of the serious concerns raised by hundreds of students, including the 350 currently on rent strike withholding roughly half a million pounds in rent payments to the University.”
“In this time, there has been a huge show of strength from students and staff: from the hundreds of students who attended the solidarity gig with only a few hours’ notice, to the display of solidarity from the UCU, and the widespread national support we received in our signed letter to the university. Our strength is in our numbers, and we will continue to take action indefinitely- until management meet our demands.
“We have been shocked by how the University has acted in the last week. While claiming our wellbeing as their priority, they have threatened those peacefully protesting.
“We are only leaving the John Owens occupation because the University has now proved our point, they do not care about students, and they are not willing to listen to our genuine concerns. Therefore, action will continue to escalate from this point until our demands have been met. John Owens was just the beginning.”