Italian university students pitch tents to dramatize housing crisis

By Javier Romualdo

Rome, May 10 (EFE).- Italian students have pitched tents on university campuses in Rome and Milan to draw attention to a housing pinch that has them paying more than 700 euros ($768) a month for a single room.

The protest launched by Ilaria Lamera, an engineering student at Milan Polytechnic, captured headlines and inspired imitators.

“In Rome, near campus they are asking 600 and 700 euros for an individual room, sometimes even shared with another person,” Sara, who is studying political science at Sapienza University, tells EFE.

She says that she spends 90 minutes a day commuting to classes by bus from her parents’ home because she can’t afford to live closer to campus.

For the last few nights, Sara has been one of the students sleeping in tents on the Sapienza campus, whose ranks grow by the day despite rain in the Italian capital.

Milan’s mayor, Beppe Sala, responded to the encampment at the Polytechnic by calling on university chancellors to seek a solution to the problem of student housing.

Giuseppe, a graduate student, says that he paid 350 euros a month at the start of his studies in 2016 and now pays 550 euros for a room farther away from the university.

“I pay 650 euros for a room in an apartment shared with six other people a half-hour from campus,” first-year student Chiara says.

Last week, Italy’s minister of higher education and research, Anna Maria Bernini, promised to assemble a “group of experts” to analyze the problem and implement steps to “guarantee the right to education.”

A survey by Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency, found that 68 percent of Italian university students live with their parents, compared with 17 percent on average across the EU.

The National Council of University Students (CNSU) says that Italy has only 36,000 beds for its 764,000 students, a shortage the government proposes to remedy by building more than 60,000 new rooms using EU pandemic recovery aid.

Even so, student organizations plan to go forward with a nationwide mobilization set for May 26.

“By the time something is implemented we will already be graduates and working on temporary contracts earning less than 1,000 euros,” one student told EFE. EFE romu/dr

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