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Photo: Anna Rice

Photo: Anna Rice

Students and lecturers unite to confront government failure to keep universities safe, reports Lucy Nichols

First year students at the University of Manchester have called for rent strikes and solidarity with lecturers amidst a break-out of Coronavirus that has affected thousands of students in Fallowfield, the Manchester suburb that houses the vast majority of students at the University of Manchester.

Less than a week after the beginning of term, the University of Manchester has reported over 1,000 cases of Coronavirus – largely confined to Owens Park, the infamous Manchester accommodation campus that houses thousands of freshers.

This has resulted in a number of lockdowns in student blocks of flats – one student reported that out of 24 flats in his building, 23 were in isolation.

As seems to be the case all over the country, the students were left totally without support from the University. When asked if isolating students would be provided with food, the University told students (who had tested positive) to put a mask on and walk to the local Sainsburys – despite this being against government guidelines.

As a result of growing anger at the actions of the government and of the University of Manchester, student activists are now calling for a rent strike, as well as solidarity with lecturers and zero financial repercussions for students who decide to drop out or defer for a year.

More protests will likely follow this one – despite all Manchester universities moving to online teaching, campuses are still not Covid-safe and students and staff remain at risk of the deadly virus.

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