Lancaster University: it's time to support your students, treat them fairly, and take action to reduce the impact this global pandemic has had on their academic and personal lives. We're calling on you to do the right thing. Cut the rent.
With even more uncertainty hitting the nation after the announcement of another lockdown, University students across the UK are yet again left with a multitude of questions, all of which go unanswered. With the latest Government ‘Stay at Home’ order, thousands of students have been left with no choice and will not be returning to their accommodation until at least half way through Lent Term. On top of this, it is no secret that many students must work to support and carry themselves through University, but without the ability to work, they are left in severe situations of hardship. This is why our call for better support for students doesn’t stop at Lancaster. The Government can’t ignore students and Universities any more, and we’re joining the national call for student compensation and a financial support package for the sector. You wouldn’t pay for a holiday you legally can’t go on, so why would you pay for a room you legally can’t stay in?
We as your Full Time Officer Team know how COVID-19 has disadvantaged your learning, your social activities and your entire University experience. We fully support the rent strikes against Lancaster University are standing with you to lobby the University into cutting campus rents. We will be using our positions to take this directly to University Senior Management, including the Vice Chancellor and University Council. We encourage students to take part as we’re stronger together.
We commend the students taking part, and those that have organised this so effectively in an effort to secure better material conditions for themselves and their fellow students. We strongly oppose any attempts by the University to punish students for taking part in this action and are here to support all students through this strike. If you are a student taking part, and face difficulties, our Advice Team are on hand to help and support you.
As a Students’ Union, we also strive to do the right thing for our members. It would be wrong of us to ask the University to give rent reductions if we didn’t ourselves. Our SU Trustee Board has taken the positive step and decided to offer 1 week rent free in Summer Term to students who are tenants of SU Living and are unable to occupy their property during the current lockdown as a way of helping those impacted by the pandemic. We are disappointed we can’t offer more, but with the difficult financial situation we are facing as a charity, our hands are frustratingly tied. At the start of the year, your Full Time Officers explained the impacts of the 15% cut to the block grant from the University has had to your Union, and with Sugarhouse closed and fewer students on campus visiting Central due to COVID-19, we are making every penny count.
Your FTOs have also contacted the University to ask if they are able to provide any further funding at the start of this term, in order to offset the reduction we are offering. We thank you for your patience while we get this sorted. Students, we empathise with how you are feeling as we too share these same concerns, frustrations and struggles as we navigate ourselves through another national lockdown. These turbulent times can have detrimental impacts upon our mental health, and so we urge you to speak up, talk about how you are doing and reach out if you need support.
Wellbeing and mental health support can be found at the following places:
You are not alone. We can fight for what is right, support one another and get through these tough times together.
Oliver Robinson President
Atree Ghosh Vice-President (Union Development)
Amy Merchant Vice-President (Welfare)
Shannon McCaul Vice-President (Societies & Media)
Paul McCarthy Vice-President (Sport)
Bee Morgan Vice-President (Education)