Rather than protesting the use of trigger words and the lack of safe spaces with cuddly toys on campus, students at University College London are reminding the world what real student activism is about: the actual cost and ease of getting an education.
Reported the Guardian: “Students in London are refusing to pay rent in protest against “soaring” accommodation prices, and are demanding a 40% cut in rental. More than 150 students in two halls of residence at University College London (UCL), are withholding rent amounting to over £250,000. The UCL Cut the Rent campaign says they will not pay until the university meets their demand for their rent to be cut by two-fifths.”
This has the potential for huge ripple effects if successful. Renting accommodation on the cheap is near impossible in London — a city that has been gutted by financial elites who have turned a once vibrant capital into a hellish playground for the uber rich. Continues the Guardian:
Campaigners say that rents at the university have risen by around 56% since 2009. Ramsey Hall, one of the halls of residences with students on strike, has 473 rooms that cost £158.97–£262.43 to rent per week, according to the UCL website. Max Rayne House, the other affected building, is one of the cheaper halls at the university, with 272 rooms that cost £102.97–£232.4.
To expect students to fork out this type of cash for three years or more is, for lack of a better word, insane. After the introduction of tuition fees by the Labour government in the late 1990’s and the rising cost of living, the debt burden is becoming unsustainable for students in the UK — who now live in one of the most unequal societies in the industrialized world.
This inequality has been largely tolerated by British society, most recently highlighted by the re-election of the extremist conservative party, which ran on a platform of extreme austerity and privatization. But as the inequality gets worse and living conditions become more and more extreme for the most vulnerable, the system is beginning to break.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.