Photo by Oscar Webb
London Student Rent Strikers Win £1M From Their University
The sentiment behind student rent strikes in London has been heating up, and after five months of withholding their rent students at University College London (UCL) have had another successful win.
After winning a rebate of £400,000 last summer, campaigners from UCL Cut The Rent have now secured a pledge from their university to fund a further £850,000 for those who have been worst affected by the sky-high rent prices of their student accommodation. Not only this, but the campaigners have also forced their institution to promise a package of across the board rent cuts and targeted rent freezes totalling in concedes of over one million pounds.
The victory has been the result of a year long process, in which campaign organisers have rallied up and aided students living in UCL halls of residence to withhold their rent, encouraging them to take part in various protests and flash occupations too.
In a recent video documenting the campaigns successes, an activist from the group claimed that “it is the first rent strike to work since the 1940’s.” The campaigner also talked about their strategies of getting involved with first-years during the UCL fresher's event, and making new students excited about getting involved. The following success of the strike has proved that hard work, passion and determination can foster brilliant results, even in the face of huge capitalist institutions.
Following their lead, a number of other Cut the Rent campaigns have been popping up all over the capital, with students from Goldsmiths, University of Roehampton and the Courtauld Institution of Art carrying out their own strikes. In the past few months alone the amount of students withholding their rent from university accommodation has surged from around five-hundred, to more than one thousand people – and with a new academic term just around the corner, we can expect this number to rise even more.
The campaigners have a big agenda – in refusing to pay gastronomical prices for their unsuitable accommodation, they believe that their action will benefit the wider housing crisis of London."The fact that fees go up means that landlords in the area can happily put their rent up too," said a student taking part in the Goldsmiths Rent Strike. "Empty houses need to be bought and turned into genuinely affordable housing. Council houses should not be regenerated into these ridiculous studio flats that are of no use to those surviving off the ‘living wage’.”
Despite their brilliant win, UCL Cut the Rent claim that this is not the end. The organisers are celebrating and welcoming the two-year pledge of funding made by their university, but have also acknowledged it as just the first step in dismantling the money-centric nature of educational institutions. They have also assured that if progress is not made, they will continue to carry out radical action against the university.
The campaigners are also encouraging other Cut the Rent movements to move forward with their action. "Rent strikes work," they said in their statement this morning, "now it's time for national escalation."
Anabel, a representative from the campaign spoke about how students from UCL hope their success will encourage other tenants in London, and across the country, to confront exploitative landlords, get to know their rights, and join local housing campaigns. "Throughout the campaign we have been working with the Radical Housing Network," she says, "they are seeking to escalate this to a London-wide rent strike in the near future."
It is certainly undeniable that with the current state of the UK political climate, this monumental win from a student movement can only serve as a source of inspiration for people around the country.
Read More - > How student poverty is crushing mental health
By Taylor McGraa, published on 05/07/2016