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2nd March 2023

“Rent hike, rent strike”: UoM Rent Strike protestors take to Oxford Road

The University of Manchester Rent Strike took to the streets, marching down Oxford Road continuing to fight for their demands
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“Rent hike, rent strike”: UoM Rent Strike protestors take to Oxford Road
Photo: Shikhar Talwar @ The Mancunion

At 6pm last night (Wednesday 1 March) protestors from the groups University of Manchester Rent Strike and Manchester Leftist Action marched from Owens Park to the Simon Building.

The Simon Building is still currently under occupation by members of the groups.

The march was organised in protest against the University, with the demands of the protestors the same they entered the occupation with; to give in to the UCU demands, give in to the UoM Rent Strike demands, and give every student £1,500 from the University fund to ensure that the government maintenance loan stays in line with inflation.

Prior to the march starting, students gather around in huddles in Owen’s Park. They played loud music and gave each other instructions in case they were arrested.

A first-year undergraduate student said, “our aim with this march is to cause disruption to the university. We want to show them that when we stand in solidarity, we are unstoppable”.

From “Rent Hike. Rent Strike” to “Nancy Out”, the protestors also took on other activist movements, with chants including “Viva Viva Palestina” and “A. C. A. B. All Cops Are B*******”, whilst the police were in attendance.

With the announcement that Dame Nancy Rothwell is expected to leave her position as Vice-Chancellor next year, the continued chants of “Nancy Out” soon turned into “Patrick Hackett Out”, a senior university figure who announced on Tuesday that members of the John Owens Building occupation are to face legal battles from the University.

A final-year undergraduate student stated that the University “threatening” disciplinary and legal action on building occupiers are just “scare tactics, that are never going to succeed”.

Protestors carried banners and signs, with “Rent Strike”, and “£170 isn’t enough” among some of the examples. The £170 refers to the money that the Students’ Union Executive Officers gained in a grant to give to every student at the University.

The protestors received a mixed reaction from crowds on the streets, with people leaving behind their pints in the Turing Tap and Big Hands pubs to film the protest and shout in unison with those on the street. Cyclists rang their bells and cars passing on the other side of the road honked their horns in support.

However, not everyone saw the protest as a good thing. One student was heard saying “Imagine caring that much man. Get a f***ing job”, whilst many left their bus with an exaggerated sigh as a queue formed behind the march. With buses stopped on every junction along Wilmslow and Oxford Road, a No. 43 bus driver took the opportunity to let his passengers off and have himself a cigarette whilst he waited for the march to pass by.

Meanwhile some were just confused as to what the protest stands for. One by-stander on the Curry Mile was heard saying, “What are they even fighting for? It moves from uni, to Tories, to Palestine. They just seem to be flipping off anyone who comes their way”.

The protestors then gathered for a rally opposite the Whitworth Arch before entering the Simon Building, which remain occupied indefinitely, according to UoM Rent Strike and Manchester Leftist Action.

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