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University students fear further lockdowns for halls of residence

Manchester Metropolitan University students have been thrown into disarray in the past few weeks as lockdown has been imposed on two halls of residence.

On Friday September 25, the residents of Birley Campus and Cambridge Halls were told firmly that they needed to self-isolate for 14 days, leaving 1,700 students shocked, confused and many without enough basic necessities.

The lockdown is seen to have been very ‘last-minute’, with some students claiming they only found out that they were under lockdown as they attempted to walk out of their front gate.

However, the lockdown has since been confirmed to be optional on Sunday October 2 by MMU and Manchester Council, despite initial reports of it being compulsory.

The University has also stated that they will be giving these students a two-week rent rebate to make up for any losses they may experience due to lockdown, but many claim the lockdown has been handled poorly.

In a tough statement made on October 1, the University and College Union called for Professor Malcom Press to resign immediately.

In a statement, it said: “Threats and blame culture had no part to play in a responsible approach to public health, especially in the middle of a pandemic.”

UCU Regional Official Martyn Moss said: “We need a serious response to this crisis and threatening and blaming students is not the right approach.

“If the university refuses to work with us then we will be left with little alternative than to ask members if they are prepared to take industrial action to protect their health and safety, and that of students and the local community.”

This follows reports made that the University sent emails out telling students to take posters in their accommodation windows down, which has since been called an infringement on students’ rights.

The Vice-Chancellor Professor Malcolm Press is showing no signs of resigning.

However, the UCU has since welcomed the decision by both the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University to move all learning online until at least October 30.

On the weekend of September 30, a mass testing took place at two sets of Manchester Metropolitan Halls, with over 42 percent of the 640 tests coming back positive.

The University of Manchester have also issued a warning after a large gathering of students was dispersed by police outside Owens Park halls in Fallowfield during freshers’ week.

Although this specific lockdown of Birley Campus and Cambridge Halls is now over, many students feel concerned that there are more restrictions to come.

Picture credit: Manchester Metropolitan University halls, taken by @dobraszczyk via twitter.

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