Sheffield students are rent striking in protest against “extortionate” accommodation fees, poor mental health services and the treatment of students during the Covid-19 crisis.
430 students from the University of Sheffield and 500 from Sheffield Hallam University have signed petitions in support of the rent strikes.
The University of Sheffield Rent Strike Committee are demanding a 30% rent reduction for the whole academic year, ‘no penalty early release’ clauses for those who wish to leave their accommodation and a commitment from the university to improve mental health services.
The university recently refunded students who were not using their accommodation during lockdown.
But Charlie Lutz, the national representative of the University of Sheffield strike, described these rent refunds as “a failed attempt to appease the strike”.
Charlie Lutz said: “We will not stop fighting until we get our demands in full… this is part of a bigger struggle against landlordism”.
Sheffield Hallam accommodation is privately owned so strikers are demanding accountability from the university for choosing and supporting these private accommodation companies as well as a full refund of rent for this academic year.
Zac Larkham, a prominent member of the Sheffield Hallam rent strike, said: “The rent strike is not just about accommodation but a broad coalition of all those who feel they have been let down by the university”.
Both Rent Strike Committees have the support of their respective University and College Unions and the latest Sheffield Central Constituency Labour Party meeting passed a motion in solidarity with the strikes with a 60% majority.
Charlie Lutz said: “This is not just an insular university circle, the further sighted reason for the strike is the fight for free education”.
Both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam strike committees are prepared to strike through the next semester or until their demands are met.