This Thursday, there was a student walk out organized outside the main building of the University of Limerick, in conjunction with several rallies at universities around the country fighting the housing crisis. Roughly 350 students attended the UL rally. The walk outs were called by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and in Limerick it was supported by the post-grad students’ union, the tenants’ union CATU, and the Limerick/UL People Before Profit branch. Speakers from these groups were joined by several independent student speakers, each telling the crowd about their struggles or those they’ve seen.
They spoke with regards to housing availability and affordability, three- or four-hour commutes, and the academic, personal, (mental) health, and community impact of housing uncertainty in the current crisis. They spoke as well of the failures of the university and the county to maintain a housing stock, and the vultures and developers that profit from renters’ desperation. Several international students talked about the particular difficulties for this group, who may pay tens of thousands per year in student fees. whose rents may outstrip their families’ incomes, and who often lack the community connections and meager safety nets that Irish students and workers are falling back on as the housing crisis intensifies.
Following these speakers and a series of chants such as “gaffs not greed”, “no keys, no degrees”, and “more keys, less fees.” The students attending were gathered for a group picture and then dispersed. The rally showed that there’s a great deal of energy and anger around this issue that is likely to continue.