Despite the exam season, about 75 activists attended "Reclaim the Campus", a conference sponsored by Education Not for Sale on 17 May. There were workshops on marketisation, NUS democracy and fighting climate change, but the event was dominated by motions debate and the election of an ENS committee.
The conference rejected a proposal from Workers Power to change the name, and an attempt by the CPGB to have a "Marxist programme" adopted. It endorsed a new statement that sharpens up ENS's politics, while leaving space for cooperation between activists with a variety of left and anti-capitalist views. It also voted to campaign for a rank-and-file movement uniting the activist left with those student unions that want to fight; support the protest against the BNP's Red, White and Blue "festival" this August; and work with student Stop the War groups to oppose the threat of war on Iran.
The new ENS steering committee includes activists from a variety of institutions and political standpoints. The first open committee meeting wil be on 8 June (12-6pm, London School of Economics). This meeting will set priorities for the year, focussing on plans for fighting the lifting of the 'cap' on fees and demanding free education. For more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.free-education.org.uk
sheffield uni: round one to us
The last issue of Solidarity reported the witch-hunt by Sheffield University's student union bureaucracy against NUS delegates who stuck by their manifesto pledges to vote against the Governance Review.
Stung by the defeat of the Review, the Sheffield sabbaticals had wanted to disqualify these activists from all future elections, in effect suspending them from the union. Following a campaign initiated by AWL and ENS members at Sheffield Uni and Sheffield College, there was widespread outrage both in the SU itself and among activists nationally — and the kangaroo court set up by to try the delegates limited its punishment to one year's disqualification from NUS conference.
We’re confident this will be overturned next year. Meanwhile, comrades are planning to use the momentum gained to struggle for real democracy in their union.
too foreign for nus
NUS Vice-President Welfare Ama Uzowuru recently reported on her official blog that another full-time member of the NUS executive had told her that her name was “too foreign to be mainstream”, and so should not feature on promotional materials for the NUS Extra Card. She was then told by other officers, including President-elect Wes Streeting, not to rock the boat by making a fuss.
Cheap, politically correct anti-racism is very popular in NUS, but the union's actual record on fighting racism (or anything) is appalling. Pages of platitudes passed at NUS conferences don't make a real campaign. NUS has failed to even acknowledge the arrests at Nottingham University and the deportation of Hicham Yezza (see p14), and attempts to get support for the campaign have been ignored. More: free-education.org.uk/?p=531
italian anti-fascist solidarity
In the same week that fascists attacked an ENS supporter, our Italian comrades have also been battling the far right. On 26 May, students at Rome's La Sapienza university occupied to stop Roberto Fiore, leader of the fascist group Forza Nuova from speaking.
The day after the occupation, Fuorza Nuova thugs attacked student members of Sinistra Critica, the Italian section of the USFI, with knives and bars. One member was seriously wounded and is in hospital.
In the context of a resurgent far right, also including attacks on Roma people in Italy, the Italian comrades urgently need solidarity! Please send messages of support to email@example.com