Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/466/1828
Durham students say:
"Stop the rent rises!"
ON 1 December, 250 angry Durham University students demonstrated against a proposed 7% increase in the cost of living in university halls of residence. Durham's halls of residence charges have gone up by 50% over the last five years, making the accommodation charges higher than the statutory student loan. Another threatened rise disgusted students.
Hannah Walter (Durham Socialist Students)
Durham is a collegiate university and the undergraduate population of each college is represented by a JCR (junior common room) President. Out of 16 college presidents in Durham only one opposed this increase - the rest voted in favour of it. The time given to JCR presidents to discuss this increase with their members (i.e. students) was two days - 30 November and 1 December! Most colleges got no consultation.
The demonstration was called after an emergency meeting of the JCR which the one opposing college president represents. Most students found out about the demonstration by word of mouth the night before it happened.
Despite this, and the fact that the demonstration started at 7.30am, around 250 students turned up -including one who had been out for their 21st birthday the night before but went to bed early to make sure they got to the demonstration!
The two-hour demonstration ended when the students union president and the presidents from three of the colleges left the meeting. They claimed to have 'won' a concession bringing the increase down to 5%. This was met with stunned silence. Most students clearly did not consider this to be any kind of victory.
20 students attended a Socialist Students and Campaign to Defeat Fees meeting on 4 December to discuss how to start an organised fight-back. It was agreed to escalate the campaign by doing stalls on campus and visiting halls of residence getting students to sign up for direct action next term.
In The Socialist 7 December 2006:
War and terrorism
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis