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Fallowfield gets creative with Owens Park protest

UoM Rent Strike reject University offer for 5 per cent rent reduction

The occupiers of Owens Park Tower and organisers from UoM Rent Strike have rejected the University’s offer for a reduction of two weeks’ rent for all students in their accommodation.

In a press release, they said: “We have made it clear to both the Students Union and the University of Manchester that this offer is insulting, and we will not be accepting it.

“Rent Strike UoM have been consistent since the beginning of our campaign that we demand a 40 per cent reduction in rent.

“We would welcome any contact from the University’s Senior Leadership Team in relation to this statement. Our emails remain open, and we remain available for a Zoom meeting to discuss our demands. We do not wish to occupy the Tower any longer than we have to, but we must make it clear that we will not be patronised with insulting offers which the University must know we cannot accept.”

Signed by Nancy Rothwell and endorsed by SU General Secretary Kwame Karteng, the agreement pledges a 20 per cent reduction in rent for semester one, more flexible accommodation agreements, better maintenance support, better study spaces, and a commitment to tackling antisocial behaviour.

The current demands set out by UoM Rent Strike ask for a rent reduction of 40 per cent for the remainder of the academic year, for the university to offer a no-penalty early release clause from their tenancy contracts, and an increase in the current standard of support for students in halls of residence.

An 18-year-old English Literature student, Finley, who is currently rent striking, told The Mancunion: “Frankly, 5 per cent, or 2 weeks, seems insulting, especially when we’re expected to go home two weeks prior to the end of term anyway.

“The SU made the deal, not the strikers or the occupiers, so the strike continues until our own demands are met, not those of the SU.”

Hannah Phillips, a final year Biochemistry and French student from 9K4WHAT? is currently one of 15 students occupying Owens’ Park Tower. She tells me: “We have loads of food, all the students in Fallowfield and unions across the country are supporting us with supplies and more banners. We got free pizza from Glasgow Student Tenants Union on Friday.

“We’re happy here, and we’re going to stay here as long as it takes for the uni to talk to us directly, and not by proxy with the SU.”

The University has declined to give any further comment at this time.

Tags: 9k 4 what, fallowfield campus, Manchester Occupation, Manchester Students' Union, occupation, UoM Rent Strike

Mollie Simpson

Features Editor and freelance writer elsewhere
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