On November 2nd, hundreds of students from across the country, representing a huge number of campaigns, will meet to work out the way forward - and to build for the Bonfire of Austerity on November 5th
The time is once again ripe for students to take up a leading role in the fight back against Austerity. The Student Assembly Against Austerity on November 2nd at UCL will be an exciting and important step forward.
Without any doubt, it was students who fired the first shot in the ongoing battle against austerity. The smashing of Millbank, the demonstrations in London by tens of thousands of angry young people, and the occupation dozens of universities demonstrated to all of British society that Cameron’s agenda could and would be met with a militant response. What’s more, the protests against tuition fees ensured that Nick Clegg would be a spent force from the very beginning of his deputy premiership.
Since then the student movement has waxed, waned and changed. The fact that the protests were ultimately unable to prevent the imposition of £9k fees brought about a level of disillusionment. At the same time experience of protest, and of occupation in particular, left a legacy of militancy upon many campuses, that has expressed itself mainly in localised, campus based actions - such as the many powerful (and indeed successful) campaigns to ensure that all university staff received a living wage. Meanwhile, at campuses across the country students are getting organised to support the joint strikes by Unsion and UCU that are set to shut universities on 31st October, and will certainly add an important element to the picket lines.
Like the myriad of localised anti-cuts groups, these campus base campaigns have been important in drawing students into action, and in making real gains for students and campus employees (many of whom are also students). At the same time, if students want to be in a position to fight for a better present and future, if we want to able to address extortionate rents and cramped housing, the zero-hours contracts that many of us work on, and the mass unemployment labour market into which we will graduate, then we also need to be organised at a national level.
This is why the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, and the upcoming student assembly are important. While in 2010 the students gave a boost to the wider movement, in 2013 the opposite has some extent been true. The mass meeting of 4,000 people last June involved a great many students, many of whom have come together to plan student assemblies at their campuses and to build for the national student assembly.
On November 2nd, hundreds of students from across the country, representing a huge number of campaigns, will meet to work out the way forward - and to build for the national day of civil disobedience on November 5th. Activists will discuss how we can reverse the rising cost of living students face amidst ever rising rents. We will discus the role of black students, LGBT students, women students and others who have been particularly hardest hit by austerity in fighting back . We will swap tips on how to get organised on campus work to get Student Assembly’s held on every campus. And perhaps most importantly we will work out what we as students can do on 5th November, as part of the mass day of civil disobedience. Amongst those addressing the assembly will be Owen Jones, Tony Benn, black students leader Aaron Kiely as well as leading student activists on campus. But importantly, this will be a moment for all of us to discuss what we do next.
Book your place now at the Student Assembly and help us build the resistance.
Reuben Bard-Rosenberg is a socialist activist and radical folk music promoter.
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