Students make new connections

Submitted by AWL on 23 March, 2021 - 7:32 Author: Abel Harvie-Clark
Warwick sit in

Workers Liberty supporters remain active organising and building a number of struggles across UK universities, promoting a socialist programme for free education and a democratic campus, and building solidarity with staff campaigns.

The recently reported fee strikes at SOAS and Goldsmiths in London (Solidarity 583) continue strong, and both campaigns have recently held “superforum events” to build their struggles with other university campaigns. Connecting with rent strikes and campus union campaigns has been prioritised in both fee strikes, and making space to build understanding between student and staff struggles is a positive step.

The neoliberal university has left many groups feeling opposed to management and marketisation policies: ranging from students wanting fees “refunded” to campus staff facing wave after wave of redundancies, as well as campus campaigns opposing racial and gendered violence in universities. The 24hr sit-in at Warwick University on 18 March demanding action to address sexual violence is but one example of the energy and organisation that is emerging from a radicalising student movement.

The ongoing struggles do not replace the importance of making use of student union bodies, however pacified they may have been. After many rent strikes have been surprised with the difficulty of getting their SU’s to back their strike, and management have often recognised the SU as the only “legitimate” student representative, over 30 rent strikes are standing candidates for sabbatical positions in their unions.

At Sheffield Hallam, a strong campaign by members of the rent strike campaign galvanised other rent strikers to turn out and vote. It wasn’t enough to win the positions, partly because of the difficulties in reaching students off campus.

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