‘Students are right to withhold their rent’ says Green MP candidate22 October 2020
Local Green Party Councillor and member of the University of Bristol Court, Carla Denyer, has come out in support of students who are locked in their accommodation without sufficient fresh food, cleaning products, pastoral support or access to safe outdoor space.
“I support the student rent strike in Bristol University halls and call on the University management to enter discussions with the strikers.
“I sympathise with the university, as I know that it is in a difficult financial position. However, the position the students have been led into by the university’s own actions is intolerable.”
In a statement, organisers of the rent strike, which is due to start on 24th October, explain why they are taking this last resort action:
“Students were sold coming to Uni being promised blended learning, so many of us signed contracts with halls and moved to Uni. Now, we are finding that most of our learning has moved online and we are essentially paying thousands of pounds in rent for a room we wished we’d never signed for.
“Many of us are being locked in our flats without decent and timely access to food, which the Uni knew would happen. This is affecting all of us and we think that the Uni should reduce the rent for all students in halls. We cannot access the blended learning we were promised, nor all the halls facilities we are paying thousands for.”
One of the students, Saranya Thambirajah, told the Guardian on Monday “There’s countless stories of people receiving one or two boxes [of food] for an eight-person flat for a whole two weeks; people not receiving vegetarian food if they’re vegetarian, or gluten-free and other dietary requirements like that; people receiving boxes with peanuts in them if they are allergic.”
Councillor Denyer summed up:
“While this strike is focussed on the university, students are in halls right now because the Conservative government put pressure on universities to deliver face-to-face teaching during the pandemic. So my call is also on the government to do more to support students and the Higher Education sector.”
Denyer is a Green Party councillor for Clifton Down in Bristol – an area with a large student population. She is also the Green Party’s parliamentary candidate for Bristol West – a seat currently held by the Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, Labour’s Thangam Debbonaire. Debbonaire has been approached by a national newspaper about the rent strike but has declined to comment.
The demands of the rent strike are laid out at tinyurl.com/lockdownstrike.