The UK’s student movement has had some really impressive moments in the last few years, but it’s also often struggled to come up with lasting ways of building power beyond brief and quickly-evicted occupations. One of the most promising steps forward in the last year or so has been the crossover between student and housing struggles in the shape of the rent strike, and now rent strike organisers are pushing to take things national. To kick things off, there’s an action of some sort organised for Wednesday 19th October, meeting up at 2:30 at Russell Square. The organisers suggest “action briefing on arrival then ~we’ll see what happens from there~”.
Meanwhile, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts’ call for a boycott of the National Student Survey – the mechanism used to rate “teaching excellence” and so on – seems to also be having some effect. As with the rent strike, the survey boycott isn’t just about a spectacular moment of confrontation, but a withdrawal of the kind of day-to-day co-operation needed to make the system run – in this case, refusal to take part in a survey that “informs league tables, is used to monitor staff, and will be a key metric in the government’s proposed Teaching Excellence Framework”. Both tactics seem like promising ones for helping to develop a movement of resistance with real roots in people’s daily lives, and the rest of us should watch closely to see what we can do to help, and what we can learn from the tactics that cut off the flow of rent money to landlords and information to managers.