15 activists from Cut the Rent have occupied Sussex House. Performing a sit-in protest over what they regard as unreasonable actions by the university.
The protest took place during a Finance and Investments Committee (FIC) meeting, during which issues, such as accommodation prices, are discussed by management.
The group stormed the building, the centre of the university’s administration, before putting up a banner to chants of: “Sussex, cut the rent.”
The building was then locked down by security, who stood in on the peaceful protest. The atmosphere was jovial, if at times boisterous. Guests to the building were directed to another entrance by university staff.
The Pro Vice Chancellor, Claire Mackie, met the group to ask about the protest’s aims and to offer that they could present a paper to FIC. The group told The Badger they already had given two papers to FIC and they decided to continue the sit-in.
The sit-in ended at 11:05, having started around 10am.
Cut the rent released the following statement:
“We are protested this meeting today as the Cut the Rent campaign to demonstrate that actions of management to prevent joint action between campaigns on campus cannot and should not be silenced and threatened.
“We intended to externally demonstrate the FIC meeting last Friday but after pressure placed upon us by management we were forced to cancel the demonstration and the meeting was cancelled. This meeting was then re-arranged at short notice. As Cut the Rent we are campaigning for a rent cap to be installed at 70% of the minimum maintenance loan for at least 10% of accommodation for next academic year and this decision is made in FIC. Meetings deciding the investment of our fees and the level of on-campus rent should have student representation. We demand a say in where our money is invested and we demand that the university treat students fairly.”
Further adding: “We were disappointed by the decision to prevent students from accessing finance and accounts while we were inside as it was an entirely peaceful protest, it was also odd to see staff coming and going as they pleased while students were prevented. The decision to turn FIC into a telephone conference is consistent with the sneaky, underhanded behaviour of management.”
Updates to come.