Gerard Westhoff reports on the beginnings of another UCL rent strike.
Over 150 students have begun an indefinite rent strike, in protest at UCL’s soaring accommodation costs. The striking students – the majority of whom reside at Max Rayne house, with a smaller group from Cambell House East – have withheld their accommodation fees for term two, which were due last Friday.
The action has been organised by the UCL, Cut the Rent campaign group, with support from the London-wide Radical Housing Network, and follows on from their victories in previous rent strikes at Campbell House West and Hawkridge House last year – which resulted in compensation for student residents totalling near £500,000.
The students intend to withhold their rent, a cumulative sum of over £250,000, until their demands of a 40% rent cut are met, a goal that differs in scope from previous strikes which were held over poor conditions (though Max Rayne House is infamous amongst UCL accommodation for its cockroaches and mice problem).
Rent in UCL accommodation has risen by 56% since 2009, claim UCL, Cut the Rent, and yields annual profits of over £15 million – a figure which the group brand “tuition fees by stealth,” which “undermines access to education for low-income students.”
Striker and resident of Max Rayne House, Nyima Murry, stated:
Many people I know are put off moving to London because they can’t afford to study here. I’m striking so that future students have the opportunity to study at UCL on academic merit not financial background.”
The group are hoping that their campaign can spread to other halls, in a bid to get a larger number of students to commit to not paying their rent for term three, escalating the pressure on UCL to meet their demands.
Featured image: UCL Cut the Rent