The campaign launched with a banner drop over Garret Hostel Lane Bridge.Rent Strike Cambridge

Rent Strike Cambridge” have today (23/11) launched a campaign for students to collectively withhold Lent Term rent payments until their demands are met.

Rent Strike Cambridge told Varsity “If you are angry, stressed, concerned, overwhelmed and burnt out, this is not your fault. This is the fault of a University which has let you down, and let us all down.”

They added: “This is why we are striking. We are striking for students who have been isolated for weeks, for students paying extortionate rents, for underpaid staff forced to work overtime with the threat of redundancy hanging over them. The Vice-Chancellor and Heads of Colleges have failed all of us and we won’t let this continue. We call on all students to join us now”.

Rent Strike Cambridge launched their campaign last night (22/11) by putting up posters across Cambridge advertising the campaign.

The rent strike follows months of student dissatisfaction with the University and Colleges’ response to the pandemic. This includes an open letter signed by more than 600 international students, the launch of the Cambridge Defend Jobs Campaign in response to potential jobs cuts at Downing and Trinity, an SU motion calling for all colleges to adopt a compassionate approach to discipline, and backlash over Jesus College’s policy on harassment reporting.

In an open meeting on November 9th the Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope and representatives from colleges reiterated the University’s commitment to in-person teaching and refused to commit to not charging rent to those students who have already left college accommodation.

In full Rent Strike Cambridge's demands

1. The University of Cambridge and all colleges commit to a 30% rent reduction for the 2020/21 academic year, and a permanent rent reduction of 10% across all colleges.

2. The University allows students to not keep term, and gives all students including international students permission to carry out their studies remotely should they wish to.

3. The University and all Colleges commit to no COVID-19 job losses and immediately revokes the hiring and promotions freeze.

4. The University and all Colleges take no disciplinary action against rent strikers.

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Commenting on this, Cambridge Defend Education told Varsity: “The open meeting clearly showed how University’s management won’t listen to polite requests, open letters, and questions in meetings. If the University and Colleges had listened to and acted on students’ and workers, this rent strike wouldn’t be necessary.”

“We have all lost our trust in the University and Colleges to act on behalf of our safety and wellbeing and it is now up to us to make them hear that we will not stand for their blatant mismanagement and flagrant lies any longer.

The Cambridge Rent Strike joins a number of other campaigns around rent who are opposing the way universities have handled the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the University of Manchester hundreds of students have joined a rent strike demanding a 40% rent reduction, further support for students, and no further staff redundancies. After the University erected fences around campuses and did not respond to the rent strike, students occupied the University-owned Owen Park Tower.


Mountain View

Homerton students launch rent-strike

At the University of Bristol, over 1300 students are participating in their ongoing rent strike, reportedly withholding over £2 million. The University has most recently come under fire for threatening to deduct rent from striking students’ bursaries and have since U-Turned as a result of public pressure.

Earlier in October, students at Homerton also threatened a rent strike. Students founded the Homerton Rent Strike Committee to ensure “the safety and wellbeing of students in Homerton” and over 50 students pledged to withhold rent until their demands were met by the College. The strike was called off following a ‘positive’ response from the College and an open meeting with College management.

The University has been contacted by Varsity for comment.