There are less than 24 hours left to vote. If the student movement has any chance of reigniting in the future and becoming a major force in the wider fight against austerity, then Clare Solomon must be re-elected. We need a fighting ULU, and we need Clare Solomon as ULU President.
Clare Solomon has been described variously as one of “the new faces of student protest” and the “student firebrand behind the wave of protests” in her time as President of the University of London Union (ULU). She is now re-standing for ULU President to ensure the student movement becomes an integral part of the wider movement against the cuts.
Clare has been at the forefront of the student movement that erupted last November in response to ConDem plans to triple tuition fees, cut EMA and drive through the most devastating cuts to higher education ever seen in Britain. She has already proven her capability for running the union in an open, democratic and representative way. She has made the ULU Senate more democratic by opening it out to all students; she has organised delegations from ULU colleges to Berlin for International Holocaust Memorial Day; she has visited students at the University of London in Paris; and she has been part of a delegation with MPs and others to show solidarity with the Tunisian revolution.
She has also organised a number of high profile events to celebrate International Women’s Day, LGBT history month and Black history month, as well as promoted the Students Not Suspects campaign and the Defend Bryan Simpson campaign.
But she is best known for her commitment to the student movement against fees and cuts. She provided official support to the 46 university occupations that took place across the country last November and was central to the demonstrations, in which tens of thousands of students participated in London alone.
When Aaron Porter, NUS President, failed to call a demonstration on the day of the vote on tuition fees, it was ULU that called that demonstration. Malet Street, outside ULU, became the place for students to assemble and march on all the major demonstrations in London. And when the NUS no longer represented the anger against the government felt by the vast majority of students, ULU, with Clare as its leader, became the alternative. She spearheaded the formation of the London Student Assembly, and LSA meetings were open to all students from all London universities.
Her opponent, Vratislav Vraj Domalip III, had little if any profile during the protests. It seems unlikely he will lead a fight against ConDem government plans to wreck the education system because it appears his priorities lie elsewhere: he promises, as ULU President, to make ULU a “centre for development and training”, indeed for the minority that can actually get to university. His other priorities, including making ULU “transparent and accessible” and a “social hub for students in London,” have already been achieved by Clare in the past year.
It is Clare Solomon that has dared to lead the anti-cuts fightback in the interests of the vast majority of students. But she is not alone. Sean Rillo Raczka, running for vice president and Hesham Zakai, running for London Student editor, have also been major student figures opposed to the cuts.
One of Rillo Raczka’s opponents and current vice president Viktoria Szmolar, is running again because “this position has brought so many interesting challenges and opportunities for growth to me” and because she wants to continue the ULU volunteering programme. Another contender for vice president, SOAS student Ikramul Choudhury, agrees that “increasing the number of charities/NGOs” that ULU works with is the way forward. These sound more like endorsements for Cameron’s unpopular big society plans. Choudhury is also promoting his “3-book pledge” as a priority campaign.
It should be clear who to vote for even by briefly skimming the manifestos of the candidates for president, vice president and London Student editor. No other candidates seem to have grasped the need to prioritise fighting the ConDem attack on education, and none other than Clare Solomon, Sean Rillo Raczka and Hesham Zakai have the experience to do so. Other anti-cuts candidates, standing for Student Trustee, are James Meadway, Abs Hassanali, Ross Speer and Ian Drummond. We need a ULU leadership that should worry the ConDem government.
Here’s how to vote:
1- Check your uni/college email. You should have been sent a username and password from ULU. The subject of the email is ‘2011 ULU Elections Password’.
2- Log on at www.ulu.co.uk/elections/election and cast your vote. You can vote for the positions of president, vice president, London Student editor and four trustees.
3- Share with all your friends!
Feyzi Ismail is a student at SOAS. Clare Solomon has recently edited a book about the student movement, published by Verso.
Feyzi Ismail teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is active in UCU
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