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Manchester students regain access to John Owens during senior management meeting

Later in the day, the board of governors refused to leave a building as students tried to give them a letter


Yesterday, student protestors regained access to the John Owens building during a meeting of the Planning and Resources Committee. The Rent Strike targeted the meeting because the committee is responsible for setting rents in student halls which the board of governers has admitted are “substandard”.

They held a banner which read “UoM puts profit over students and workers” and tried to hand staff a letter about their demands. Reportedly, most of the staff refused to take the letter and avoided eye contact (see video below).

One security guard found the scene entertaining and agreed to be in a photo with the students.

The students then barricaded themselves in front of Nancy Rothwell’s office asking to talk to their Vice-Chancellor. Nancy Rothwell instead left through an alternative exit.

The students also got into the board room and had a cup of tea. One of them told The Manchester Tab: “It was nice to be back, I have great memories of playing headbands and sardines in that room the other week.”

The students left surprises for staff before leaving the building.

Later in the day, students protested outside the Hyatt Hotel, which was holding a meeting for the Board of Governors. A meal had been planned in the building opposite for after the meeting.

Reportedly management staff refused to walk approximately 50 metres from their meeting to dinner at the Alliance Manchester Business School because five students were standing outside asking to give them a letter. They had six members of security staff called and moved their dinner into the hotel.

Students stood outside in the rain and spoke on megaphones to staff they could see through the windows. They asked: “When will the University negotiate with students about the Cost of Living crisis? How much did that wine cost? Students are using foodbanks.”

VC Nancy Rothwell is visible between drawn blinds

Today, occupiers in the Simon building were woken at just after 5am when private bailiffs entered the building and carried out students.

The university defended its decision to employ a private security firm to drag out students saying: “This action follows multiple requests to those occupying the building to leave, and court hearing papers being served on the occupiers on 15 March 2023.”

The university added it “regretted having to do this” and copies of the possession order were handed out to students.

Manchester Rent Strike has vowed to continue their fight for their demands to be met, and have called for more students to cancel their direct debits to the university before the next rent payment installation. It remains to be seen whether this will lead to further protests or whether the university will take steps to address the concerns of its students.

The University of Manchester, Nancy Rothwell and the Hyatt Hotel have been approached for comment.

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