Protesters occupying various University of Manchester (UoM) buildings have left two facilities but taken over another, while laying out their demands to the bosses.
Last night, members of the UoM Rent Strike group “gained unauthorized access to the Simon Building,” a university spokesman said. They also confirmed that the protesters had left the Engineering Building and the Samuel Alexander Humanities Center.
Now, speaking to the Manchester Evening News, the protesters laid out their demands to university bosses and explained why they made the decision to move buildings. The protester also warned that the group “will have no choice but to seriously escalate” the action if the institution refuses to negotiate.
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“What we really want is a serious commitment from them and a process to reach some kind of conclusion,” said the protester, who did not give his name. “We have to have 100 percent (a guarantee of) no punishment for squatters and rent strikers. We need to see serious proposals on reimbursing students for the cost of living crisis, and proposals to make housing more affordable in the long run.
“We are aware that the uni could not negotiate. If they don’t release anything, then we’ll have no choice but to seriously scale what we’re doing. I can’t say what that would look like, but all options are on the table.”
The protester also said that the move to the Simon building was motivated by the fact that it ‘has space for student participation’. The protester added: “Simon also has a lot of administrative areas, it is an important building for the university and it is incredibly visible.
“We want to continue with this. I imagine Simon might not be the last. We will continue with the occupation until we get something from the uni.”
The group also claims they have been given an ‘ultimatum’ to leave the buildings or face disciplinary action from the university. A statement, posted on Twitter, read: “The University of Manchester has issued an ultimatum to the occupants of the John Owens Building, threatening that the students will see formal disciplinary action for ‘serious misconduct’ if they do not leave the building by 4am. pm today. (February 14).”
A university spokesman said it “continues to monitor the situation.” A statement added: “The students remain in the John Owens Building and have left the Samuel Alexander and Engineering Building.
“We are aware of a small number of people who gained unauthorized access to the Simon Building overnight. Our primary concern is the health and safety of the people currently occupying the buildings.
“We are aware that some doors and entrances are locked and locked and we emphasize our concern for your safety in the event of an emergency incident.
“The normal operation of the University continues. We continue to monitor the situation carefully.
“After repeated warnings about your personal safety, unauthorized behavior, and disruption by a small number of students in the John Owens Building, we have sent an additional letter requiring you to vacate the building by 4:00 p.m. today, and we have explained the consequences of not doing so. Your continued presence and your refusal to remove the locks to allow access to the building continue to put your safety at risk and disrupt the work of our colleagues who provide essential services to our University community.”
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