N30 Profits Go Where?

Katie Lee

On the 30th November, 24 unions and approximately 2 million people took strike from their jobs. This was an opportunity for people to demonstrate thatthey will not stand down in the struggles with the tory-led government. Like the rest of the UK, ManMet got involved with lecture walkouts, marches and mass strikes but amongst all of this unrest, the question on one student’s mind was “where is the profit that the university is making from this strike going to go?”

Third year Contemporary Art History student Aiyisha Williams has been running a campaign that appeals to ManMet asking for the money made from the N30 strikes to be put into a student hardship fund. The university is set to make a profit on this day due to the unpaid wages of staff on strike and so surely this money should be seen to be benefitting the students in some other way.

The University and Colleges Union (UCU) appealed to the Vice Chancellor of ManMet, Professor John Brooks in 2010 for such proceeds to go into a student hardship fund, an exercise that many universities across the UK undergo including Manchester University. This appeal was responded to in a less than hospitable manner stating that the UCU had no right to ask for such a task.

Since things have been taken down the formal route and have been declined, ManMet leaves the students with no choice but take the issue on themselves.In an interview, Aiyisha pointed out that when publically speaking about ManMet, John Brooks always refers to the students as “his students”, however if this was really the case “this would be a really small request for him to do.”

Recent times have been particularly hard for students and so it would be nice to have the VC’s support. For example, when asked for funding for two coaches to take MMU students to the London protests last year, John Brooks refused despite VCs from Manchester and Salford University both funding coaches for their own students. This highlights that this request was by no means unreasonable and that other universities were receiving the kind of student support that MMU doesn’t necessarily get.

A student hardship fund would provide some of this support. Considering that we, the students are the largest ‘share holders’ of the university, surely we deserve to have a say in where this money is going or at least be allowed to see where the already extortionate tuition fees that we pay get spent.

Over the summer, it was released that MMU had bought the ‘Salutation’ pub in Hulme and contracted an independent pub company, Trof, to run it for the university. Although this pub is a charming drinking hangout and a historical landmark within Manchester – being only one of two pubs left in Manchester with their original 1840s décor –it was bought with university money that could have been spent elsewhere.

It is a shame that there is such divide between the university’s governance and its students, especially at a time when it is so important to show strength and unity. One thing Aiyisha repeated several times – and I agree – is that “students have a right to be asking these questions” and I say it is about time we get some answers.

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