A capacity Empty Shop mourned the death of accessible education on Sunday, with over 100 mourners gathering to listen to some of Durham’s best student bands and soloists.
The event, called In Memoriam and hosted by the student pressure group Durham Left Activists, saw acoustic music from Jasmine Watkiss, Frankie Fozard, Jelly Cleaver and Jasmine Simms play acoustic music to start the evening. Simms’ Wild Horses rendition was a particular highlight.
Then, as the evening went on, Morning After, fronted by singer Nikki Orrell, fill the venue with Mark Ronson’s Valerie, followed by Chazz Band, with the evening finishing with headliners CV.
With a capacity crowd, great music and an unforgettable atmosphere, the event proved a tremendous success.
However, the gig also had a serious purpose. It was about highlighting the inaction of the University in addressing student concerns on accommodation fees. Despite an extensive and exhaustive consultation process by the DSU, the University’s responses to genuine and impassioned student anger were mediocre at best. Rather than addressing the issues, the University simply ignored them, suggesting that it would be supply and demand that determined College fees in the future.
With the University’s accounts revealing a large discrepancy between University spending and income on Colleges, this complete rejection of engagement is all the more concerning.
Because of this, the organisers of the event, Durham Left Activists, are holding two actions before the end of term. The first, on Monday 20th June, is a demonstration outside the Palatine Centre, highlighting the continued inaction of the University on freezing accommodation and international fees over the next two years. Then, during the official Open Days, the group will be holding ‘Alternative Open Days’, a more realistic take on the Durham experience.
Clearly, the issue of accommodation fees will not go away in Durham. Spiralling fees, the low quality of College accommodation and rising student anger – as seen in the 400-strong attendance for the Funeral for Accessible Education – mean that pressure to freeze fees can only increase. Events like the In Memoriam gig show this.