The Socialist

The Socialist 20 January 2021

Make the super-rich pay, not the poorest

The Socialist issue 1117

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Scrap fees, refund rents and pay a living grant

Students need a leadership that will fight fees and austerity, photo Socialist Party

Students need a leadership that will fight fees and austerity, photo Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

Eva Papadopoulou, Southampton Socialist Students

Right up until the last minute, the university seemed to be endlessly optimistic about how we could return this term for in-person teaching. On 31 December I received confirmation from the university that all teaching would be moving online. Many other students have been entirely online for the whole academic year.

We were lured to the university by the false promise that we would be able to attend things in person. People have been paying rent to sit in their rooms and do online lessons. This is something that they should be able to do from home, and for free.

When they let us know that teaching was to be entirely online, an obvious next step would have been to tell us what is happening with halls. A recurring theme throughout the whole situation has been that we have to fight for every little thing.

In Southampton, they took our rent on the very first day back giving us very little chance to build support among other students for a rent strike. A lot of people found that their rent had gone before they even realised.

Ironically, this didn't happen to me. My maintenance loan had come through, but because it wasn't enough to cover the rent, the payment bounced. I ended up being an accidental rent striker.

We have taken up the issue with the Students Union, people have been fighting to get rent refunds for January and February. The latest communication from the university has said that "those eligible for a refund would be getting one", it said that more details would follow and that it would be for those unable to return to halls. We are still waiting for those further details!

The thing that makes me so angry, is that if we hadn't said or done anything, they would have just taken the rent for good, despite the fact that we are not able to be here. We have to argue and fight for everything.

We are making plans for next term, to organise a rent strike before they get a chance to take our payments, if the university doesn't issue refunds.

Lots of universities are giving different levels of refunds to students living in halls. But people are not just thinking about halls refunds, it's also about university cuts and redundancies. People are taking every victory and concession, but these leave a lot to be desired. What is the point of winning a refund just for this year, if next year I still can't afford my rent, even if there is no Covid?

Students should be able to live comfortably. We should get a higher maintenance payment, and rents should be capped at a percentage of this. There is the issue of tuition fees too. People are questioning why we are paying so much for what amounts to an online certificate. Tuition fees just make education less accessible.

Students are seen as consumers, they are not doing things in our interests, but to maximise the universities income. Schools and universities should not be run as if they were businesses, it's very simple


In this issue


News

Make the super-rich pay, not the poorest

Bosses profit out of 'starvation' food parcels

Teachers: On the front line, in their own words

Peace and Justice Project - no way forward for socialism

Millionaire tendency regains control of Scottish Labour

News in Brief


Covid-19

The Tory blame game: scapegoating the working class - 100% pay for all now

Covid: Bosses chase profit and put workers in danger

Vaccine confidence - a worker's response

Life in lockdown - being home from school when you're poor is hard


NHS

On the NHS front line


Black Lives Matter

Justice for Mohamud Hassan!

Police use Covid laws to intimidate BLM protesters

New Cross Gate fire 40 years ago


International News

USA in crisis - the need for a socialist alternative

Trump Twitter ban: only independent workers' voice can defeat right


Workplace

PCS Broad Left Network conference

Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick factory future secured following strike action

Morrisons - 10/hr headline hides divisive pay offer

A day in the life of an agency worker

British Gas strike continues


Students

Refund student rent and fees

Plymouth rent strike continues

Scrap fees, refund rents and pay a living grant


Campaigns

London's May elections: Tories and Labour's Khan both vying to slash public services

Socialist Party national women's meeting

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Christmas Crossword Competition


Readers' Opinion

Books that inspired me: The Road to Wigan Pier


Obituary

Obituary - Jeff Edwards


 

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20 January 2021