Cut the Rent “fully committed” to continuing campaign despite SU vote

TCDSU declined to formally support the Cut the Rent campaign at Council this week

The Cut the Rent campaign are “fully committed” to fighting for rent decreases and building their movement despite Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) failing to support the group at Council this week.

The group said that the rejection of a motion to support the campaign was “a blow to all of us, but it’s not the first time the SU has voted against campaigns which were ultimately successful,” in a statement posted on their Facebook page this evening. 

The Cut the Rent group was established in early October and has called for students in Trinity Hall and on-campus accommodation to take part in a rent strike whereby they would withhold the second installment of this year’s rent unless their demands are met. 

“Campus and student accommodation should be an amenity, not a commodity. We wholeheartedly oppose fees and rents that create barriers to education, and will continue to fight for an education system that operates in the interest of students, not profit,” the statement reads. The group has received an “overwhelming amount of support both on- and off-campus,” they said.

At Tuesday’s SU Council, TCDSU declined to formally support the Cut the Rent campaign, following a long and heated debate. Discussion largely centred on the final line of the proposed mandate, “This support should include promoting and actively participating in the campaign, and protecting student activists in the case of disciplinary action”. The motion was amended to say “stand with” rather than “protecting”. 

Some class representatives were unhappy the motion’s lack of specificity, while others argued that students would believe that the union would be able to protect them against eviction if students withheld rent payment. 

None of the sabbatical officers spoke either for or against the motion. Four of the sabbatical officers voted for the motion, while TCDSU President, Laura Beston, abstained from the vote. The rejection of the motion received some criticism on social media. 

In their statement, the campaign cites several instances of TCDSU supporting radical positions after initially rejecting to take a stance. TCDSU voted not to oppose a loan scheme for funding higher education in 2015, the campaign notes, after which the grassroots group Students Against Fees was set up. “They won wide support for a more radical anti-fees mandate within the SU soon after,” Cut the Rent TCD said in their statement. 

A motion to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign and Palestinian solidarity was rejected by Council in 2017, “despite being presented with over 1,000 student signatures behind it”. A year later, “the campaign won a landslide victory in a campus-wide referendum, triggering support for BDS in DCU and USI at a national level,” Cut The Rent TCD said. 

The campaign also highlights Take Back Trinity as an example of activism led primarily by “ordinary students…not the SU”.

The group have canvassed on-campus accommodation and have over 200 students on their mailing list. A flash action is being held by the group on Thursday, which the group says will be “fun”. Further information on the direct action will be provided at the time, the group said in their Facebook event.

Aisling Grace

Aisling Grace was the Editor-in-Chief of the 66th Volume of Trinity News. She was also formerly Online Editor and Deputy News Editor.