USI votes to support student rent strikes

Anja Zauers

The Union Students of Ireland (USI) has recently voted to support student rent strikes across the country.

The motion was passed at USI’s national council on Friday 15th November which was held in Trinity College Dublin.

Following the success of rent strikes in the UK and emerging rent strike groups in Ireland, the national student movement voted unanimously to support these campaigns focused on campus owned student accommodation in Ireland.

“I do think this is an important move for USI, the situation is only getting worse for students and this kind of direct action could be of benefit. We have seen the success of moves like this in the UK so hopefully it can have a similar effect here in Ireland,” said Aisling Fagan, VP for Welfare and Equality in DCU.

The decision was made after a lengthy discussion took place which saw student leaders from around the country give their opinion on what a rent strike might look like.

President of USI Lorna Fitzpatrick shared their reasoning for holding the vote.

“Currently, students are paying very high rents which are placing students in financial difficulty. This summer just before the RPZ’s came into effect in College Owned PBSA, every University increased the rent charged to students. We want to be able to support students who are interested in using this method to campaign to reduce the rent charged by their University.”

Students’ Unions have democratic procedures in place to ensure they are representing and carrying out the work that their members wish to see from them, with USI having promised to continue to support Students’ Unions with motions to support rent strikes.

Fagan explained what must be done if rent strikes are to go ahead:

“There are many potential implications for students such as the practicalities around withholding rent, conflict with landlords and potential evictions. If these are to go ahead, protection for students, good planning and practical solutions must be figured out before any moves are made.”

When asked about how DCU can help their students, she said they “can continue to keep their on-campus accommodation costs as low as they can”, as DCU Campus Residences is the supplier of the lowest-priced on-campus student accommodation of any institution in Dublin.

USI is aware that colleges are in need of additional investment and actively campaign on that issue, however, they expressed their concern for students and how they should “not be used by colleges to fill the gap left by lack of government funding”. 

“We will be contacting student groups who are organising on campuses and supporting them in doing that. We will put together resources for them and will help in any way we can to support them achieve their goal,” Fitzpatrick said.

Anja Zauers

Image Credit: University Times