The National Council of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) have voted to mandate the union to support campaigns involving rent strikes in campus accommodation.
The motion was proposed by USI’s Deputy President Michelle Bryne and will require the union to support campaigns such as the one run by the Cut the Rent TCD group, who are encouraging students in Trinity accommodation to withhold the second instalment of rent for this academic year unless their demands are met.
The motion, which was passed by USI’s National Council argued that “colleges should be working to remove barriers to attending college and the cost of accommodation is a huge barrier currently.”
The motion also noted that collective action and rent strikes have “proven extremely effective” in the past, listing victories won including a £1.2 million rent cut in University College London following a rent strike by students.
Speaking to Trinity News, Michelle Bryne said she was “delighted to see unanimous support from SUs around the country to mandate USI to support rent strikes”.
She added: “Supporting grassroots groups in running direct action campaigns that work towards the same ideals of the Break The Barriers campaign is vitally important. The campaign for a more affordable and accessible educational experience is something we all are fighting for and we should be supporting students who are taking radical action to achieve the same.”
The vote was welcomed by Cut the Rent TCD, Michael McGrath, a leading member of the group and an on-campus tenant told Trinity News: “All of us at Cut The Rent are delighted to see a motion of support for rent strikes pass without objection at the USI national council today. It’s clear that rents for students will continue to rise in an unregulated market unless met with considerable resistance.”
“This support will help students to form coalitions to fight the extractive greed that is taking a toll on their economic, social and educational lives, and is the first step in a long process to ensure that each student has access to a safe, comfortable and affordable bed,” he stated.
USI’s decision to back rent strikes follows a vote taken last month by Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) against supporting the Cut the Rent movement.
USI’s National Council is made up of representatives from each of the member student unions. This evening’s council meeting was held in Trinity.