Stirling Solidarity Space staged a rally outside University management yesterday in response to a rent increase of up to 9% for -University-managed accommodation next year.
The University changed their website on March 28, revealing students would be paying between £4.29 – £14.61 extra per week come September. This means students may pay up to £525 extra per year to live in halls of residence.
The rent increases affects every type of accommodation on campus except for Muirhead House, the cheapest university managed property. Instead it is only available to rent per semester within a 15 week contract.
Students are encouraged to register their opposition to the rent increase by signing a petition by Stirling Solidarity Space. The petition can be found here.
Justine Pedussel, the housing officer elect, told the crowd of protesters that the lack of announcement was disappointing. Pedussel said:
“Most of you will have seen the University’s rent increase. Did you also notice how quiet the university has been about that? How they didn’t even bother to tell us University accommodation is going up by up to 9% and the University tried to brush it under the rug. Did they really think you wouldn’t notice? Are they ashamed? You know what, they really should be.”
Pedussel continued: “9% is a massive increase and completely unnecessary. The University has the money. If they didn’t, why do they renovate things like the Sports Centre and the reception area when their own students can barely afford their current rent and will certainly not be able to afford a £500 increase for the next academic year.”
“We are here to tell them exactly what they tell us- be the difference. Practice what you f**king preach guys.”
Union President, Tash Miller, also gave a short but invigorating speech to the crowd. She said:
“It’s great to be invited to be here today, but it is absolutely not great to be here. We did not come to university to stand out in front of the management buildings and fight for our houses to be affordable. We did not come to university to be told that we need to live off £50 a month just to get by. We came to university for better futures, for hope, for better careers. We did not come here to be standing in the cold, and it is the fault of the people behind us.”
Miller added: “We went into those meetings and demanded a rent freeze and was shut down at the earliest possible opportunity. It was never on the table. We were never in those discussions, we were simply in the room. We are here to tell them exactly what they tell us – be the difference. Practice what you f**king preach guys.”
“When we unite as a student movement, we can create change. We can push for what we need to live happily, affordably, and comfortably as University of Stirling students.”
VP Communities, Jess Reid echoed Tash’s call for university management to do better. She said:
“When we were brought into these meetings as unequal, as basically people to be PR and promote what they’re doing. We said no. That’s because we knew that we would have the voice of the students behind us, we knew there would be you to show them that it’s not acceptable. That’s what we can do when we come together. When we unite as a student movement, we can create change. We can push for what we need to live happily, affordably, and comfortably as University of Stirling students.”
Among the speakers were representatives from Global Justice Stirling, the Labour Society, Scottish Socialist Youth Stirling, the Green Party, and the NUS. The crowd also heard testimonials from students who have experienced campus accommodation first hand.
UCU representative, Joe Smith, thanked students for their continued support during teaching strikes throughout the year:
“I wish you every success in your struggle and thank you very much for all the support that you’ve shown your striking lecturers and professional support services over the course of the last six months. I hope that you get a positive outcome.”
Stirling Solidarity Space encouraged students on Instagram to sign the NUS Scotland petition. Find it here.
Featured Image Credit: Stirling Solidarity Space
Film and Tv Editor at Brig Newspaper. Currently studying Journalism and English at the University of Stirling
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