By Jacob Hartley and Tom Grant
January 2, 2023: The Twitter account @rentstrikeUoM announces that they are calling a rent strike of students in University halls, demanding:
January 19: The deadline for rent in University halls. Rent strike organisers claim that 350 students have withheld rent, totalling a total of half a million in rent. The University disputes this figure.
February 3: Fraser McGuire, one organiser of the rent strike, tells The Mancunion that there is an “appetite” for escalation, should the University not engage or negotiate.
February 8: Escalation, following a refusal to engage by the University.
3 University buildings: The Samuel Alexander, Engineering, and John Owens (housing the offices of senior management) are occupied by the rent strike.
These occupiers are joined by Manchester Leftist Action, a rebrand of the group previously known as NancyOut.
Students from @UOMRENTSTRIKE2023 and Manchester Leftist Action have occupied three buildings overnight in support of the rent strike and UCU strikes #manchester #uom #ucu #mojo #fyp♬ original sound – themancunion
February 10: Security attempt to block food getting into the John Owens building – one security guard is quoted saying “if you want to get to them, you’ll have to go through me”. They back down after online pressure.
February 13: The occupiers leave the Sam Alex and Engineering Building. They had previously told Manchester Media Group that they would remain indefinitely, even if it meant staying over the Easter holiday.
However, they now occupy the Simon Building.
February 14: The University of Manchester issues an ultimatum to occupiers, threatening “formal disciplinary action” and potential expulsion. A concert, involving performers Vice Vera and OORYA is held in solidarity with the occupiers.
February 15: The University cuts off WiFi access to the John Owens building.
The Rent Strike claims to have confirm the identity of several abusive Twitter accounts as belonging to University staff, including security and someone in the “senior management of the Directorate of Estates and Facilities”. The abuse includes ‘homophobic, racist and misogynistic comments.
February 16: The University cut off heating in the John Owens building, due to the “cost of living” crisis. The occupiers leave the John Owens building. They set off flares, displaying a banner saying “This is just a warning”.
The group tell The Mancunion that the group “feel they can do more organising on the outside than they can do on the inside”.
February 17: The occupiers are given an ultimatum to leave the Simon Building by 4pm. Security chains the doors in the building, blocking access to many areas, including the kitchen.
The group does not leave. They claim that the numbers of occupiers has doubled since the deadline.
February 19: Security calls Greater Manchester Police, alleging assault by the students. 6 police vehicles attend, but they refuse to support Security.
Student organisers “condemn this response”, and “urge the university [sic] to present us an offer, not threaten us with arbitrary punishment and legal action”.
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