After a survey by The Courier revealed last month that just 34% of respondents are satisfied with Newcastle University, Tom Wrath spoke to student rights activist Unity Addison about growing discontent among the student body and the upcoming demonstration.
What were your motivations for organising the protest?
Basically, the idea came about when I read an article online about students’ experiences with food parcels when they were self-isolating… and seeing the signs on people’s windows. There was something haunting about seeing those signs that would usually just be a flat number, or ‘bring beer’, turn into political statements such as ‘9k 4 what?’ and ‘f**k Boris’. There were more disturbing ones about mental health and how students felt like they were in a prison. Students were misinformed by the government and universities, being told it was safe to go back to university… and they promised us a blended learning approach that included vital practical work and necessary in person teaching, but this has not been the case. Why should students have to pay £9,000 + (nearly £23,000 for international students) for an online degree? The quality of the teaching cannot be maintained whilst online and this has been proven over the last month.
What do you hope to achieve?
A demo and a rent strike will give students a voice to express their concerns about their safety, well-being, and education. I hope it will show the government and the universities across the UK that students won’t be taken advantage of and we will demand change, as well as encouraging students to stand up in the face of adversity.
How can students get involved?
The demonstration will take place on 31st October from 1:30pm onwards at Greys Monument, with participants being spaced 2m apart. Stewards will be directing proceedings, and we are encouraging students that fancy dress is more than welcome! Please wear masks at all times, and if you have any accessibility issues please let us know in advance.
How can I get involved if I’m self-isolating?
Share, share, share online! We really need placards with bold statements on how this situation is affecting you! Get creative with it! We are also wanting to read out people’s stories of their difficulties so far at uni to make the event emotive, and give students a voice- this will all be anonymised.
The demonstration’s page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/382583409789521/
Last modified: 30th October 2020