Homerton held a virtual meeting with students on Wednesday to discuss the demands of the open-letterfranman247

Homerton students have founded the Homerton Rent Strike Committee in order to voice concerns surrounding “the safety and wellbeing of students in Homerton”.

The Committee encouraged students to sign their open letter and pledge to withhold their Michaelmas rent if the demands of the rent-strike are not met by the College.

The open-letter, signed by more than 50 students and alumni, focuses on demands related to “investment in student mental health”, “increased number of safe social […] study spaces”, as well as decreased or no rent for students in college accommodation outside of term for reasons related to Covid-19.

The open-letter makes a number of demands related to international students quarantining; firstly calling for the College to “reimburse all students who have been charged the increased rate of £20 per night” when quarantining upon arrival and also demanding that Homerton does “not charge any other students who may need to quarantine outside of term time in the near future.”

Another demand of the letter asks the College to “clarify your plan to all students as to what you will provide if any student has to self-isolate and make sure you have the provisions available.” This follows student volunteers assisting quarantining students being compensated with £200 for their support, which involved up to 7-hour shifts over the 10-day period.

Other demands of the letter include guaranteeing “an unconditional commitment to allow students to go home for Christmas” and if due to legal issues this is not possible for no student to be charged rent during this period; allowing students to book other rooms on-site to use as study spaces, and maintaining the precedent of providing accommodation to all students unable to leave Cambridge in the event of a lockdown.

Responding to the open-letter, an email from the college’s Principal, Senior Tutor and Bursar pledged to support the mental wellbeing of the student body, highlighting the presence of “a new counsellor ready to help out if needed.”

The email emphasised that “the counselling provision at Homerton is one of the largest in the University, if not the very largest.”

In addition, with regards to study and social spaces, the email outlined the provision of the JCR and a Marquee, but contends that “recent unsafe behaviour in the marquee has sadly led us to restrict rather than expand the availability of social space”.

The College communicated that it was unable to decrease rent or reimburse students who had to quarantine in College, explaining that students coming from certain countries were required by law to quarantine.

Homerton also communicated that no restrictions on students wanting to leave College accommodation and travel during the Christmas break would be implemented other than those required by UK law.

Following this email, The Homerton Rent Strike Committee asked for a virtual open meeting to be held. On Monday [13/10] the Homerton Rent Strike Facebook page read , “a virtual open meeting has been arranged with the Vice-Principal of Homerton, Louise Joy, the Senior Tutor, Penny Barton and the College Bursar, Deborah Griffin, at 3pm on Wednesday 14th October.” The post “encourages” all students to attend this meeting, to which a link has been shared.

The post furthermore calls off the rent strike following the “positive” response by the College to the open-letter but encourages students to “attend the public meeting” before paying their College bills.


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While the Homerton Rent Strike Committee told Varsity that they are “deeply disappointed that it took student pressure for the College to be more transparent”, they welcome the meeting and hope that it will “provide a meaningful avenue of participation for students to express their worries” about how the College is conducting itself during the pandemic.

The email sent by the College in response to the open-letter stresses the value the College places on students’ voices, emphasising that “ as the spread of Covid-19 changes, all the measures we have put in place will be reviewed and that HUS [Homerton Union of Students] and MCR representatives will be consulted at every significant stage – this is an ongoing dialogue, and we have no wish to impose more restrictions than are necessary for the safety of our College and our community.”

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