Sebastian Prior, Manchester and Salford Socialist Party
Socialist Party members in Manchester visited the 25 students occupying ‘The Tower’ at Manchester University to show our solidarity on 15 November. These students represent the discontent and anger of the whole student body. Like other institutions across the country, Manchester University has taken full payment of the £9,000 tuition fees, and £4,000 annual rent, with the promise of a high-quality education. A promise which has not been met.
Students have been exposed to dangerous living conditions, online education, and a rent increase, all while being isolated from their families and each other. The ‘Tower’ occupation was described as the result of a gradual fanning of the flames of student anger. Throughout this process the university has refused to meet with the students, and has even utilised police and private security to prevent supporters from joining them, or passing them food and vital supplies.
The mood on campus is one of betrayal, but most importantly of determination. Students spoke of continuing the rent strike, and their anger at the commodification and privatisation of universities, stating: “They’re treating the university like a business, and we’re sick of it, you can’t prioritise education if you’re prioritising profit.”
The awareness of students is certainly rising, and the students we spoke to made this very apparent, stating that the effects of this strike could be a victory not just for Manchester, but for all students. They spoke of the need to remove the profiteers from university institutions, and take the accommodation and the university into the hands of the students and workers at the university.
We had a warm welcome and our ideas clearly enthused and resounded with the strikers and supporters. We will continue to act to support their demands, and help them achieve the goal of democratic workers’ and student control of universities.