STUDENT rent-strikers were ambushed on the eve of their latest talks with university management and fined £25,000, campaigners revealed yesterday.
Over 1,000 University College London (UCL) students are refusing to pay extortionate rents for the school’s disgusting halls of residence.
Despite just starting talks with UCL representatives, strikers were fined £25 each on Monday evening.
PPE student Agathe de Canson said: “Considering that we’re supposed to be in the middle of negotiations, it is outrageous that UCL has sent out such a threatening and intimidating email.
“They are gravely mistaken if they believe the use of these tactics will make us end our protest.”
The email was sent by UCL’s accommodation chief Duncan Palmer, who even warned students that the college might bring in debt collectors.
If students don’t cough up for their dilapidated digs, Mr Palmer wrote, “the external debt recovery process would lead to court proceedings being brought against you and a court judgment being sought.
“A court judgment could have negative repercussions for you, for example in relation to your future credit rating.”
Organisers of the UCL Cut the Rent campaign said it showed a “flagrant disregard for the success of these negotiations.
“We predict that the hypocrisy and continued use of intimidation tactics by the senior management at UCL will only result in higher attendance and greater disruption at the demonstration scheduled for the university open day at the end of the week.”
A student union representative requested the fines be postponed in goodwill until the end of the talks between students and management.
Students said the plea was met with silence from the university.
A UCL spokeswoman said that the £25 fine was a “standard” late payment fee that had been put off until “the stressful exam period” was over.
“UCL has given students significant opportunity to settle outstanding balances without applying the late payment fee to their accommodation accounts,” she said.
UCL Cut the Rent is planning a demonstration for the weekend, to coincide with the university’s undergraduate open days.