Thursday, 15 March 2012

Reports of student protests across the country

Wednesday, March 14th saw hundreds of students protesting against cuts, tuition fees and privatisation across the country. This day was part of an NUS called ‘walkout’. But in reality the vast majority of actions were organised and built by Socialist Students members and anti-cuts activists. Despite little to no support for action from most students unions locally and NUS nationally, the series of successful demonstrations and college walkouts which took place showed the huge anger on our campuses. Students and young people are not willing to simply accept Con-Dems brutal onslaught on our education and our future – we are determined to fight back!

London, Claire Laker-Mansfield

In London around 500 students joined a march from the University of London Union to the Department for Business innovation and skills. The demonstration displayed an enormously angry mood which was directed at the government and in particular the universities minister, David Willetts. The protest had clear demands, against tuition fees, cuts privatisation and for the immediate reinstatement of EMA. Outside Downing Street, a short sit down protest took place. Unfortunately no rally was organised at the end of the education which could have played an important role in giving a way forwards for the movement. Socialist Students says what’s needed now is to go back to our campuses and continue to organise. We need local campaigns linked on a regional and national level, united with workers struggles with a strategy for victory. March 14th is just the start!

West Lancashire College, Phil Rawsthorne

The students, both in Skelmersdale and nationwide, were protesting against the vicious cuts inflicted to public services by the multi-millionaires of the Conservative led government. Specifically, the students demanded an end to ‘hidden’ university fees and the return of the E.M.A. payments, ruthlessly stolen by the Tories from working-class students nationwide. Also on the agenda was a desire to stop the Tory plans to privatise the NHS, and a demand to end slave-labour ‘workfare’ schemes that force the unemployed to work for £1.67-an-hour.During our march, we recieved excellent support from the Skelmersdale public, who showed a genuine interest in the issues we raised, as well as genuine worries regarding the reckless slashing of public services inflicted by this unpopular and uncaring government.

As the vast majority of the marchers are regular Champion readers, we would be delighted if you could publish any coverage of our march, and feel very much that it is of great public interest to the people of Skelmersdale.

Sheffield, Wylie Hume
Students from both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University walked out of lectures in protest of rising tuition fees, the scrapping of EMA and all the cuts to education. This was part of the NUS called national walkout. Sheffield Socialist Students put pressure on the Student Unions at both universities but was unsuccessful in getting them to support for the walkout. However, Socialist Students along with other groups organised a demonstration of 50 people inSheffield city centre regardless of the lack of support from the student union executives who were unwilling to fight for the living, studying and working conditions of students. Students marched through the city centre to the City Hall were a rally took place with speakers from Socialist Students, Unite and the NUS. The students also passed McDonalds where they paused on their march to protest against the company’s shameful participation in the ConDem government’s Workfare scheme which forces young people to work for their benefits. The March gave a real presence in the city centre and many people expressed their support for students in their fight back against the government’s attempts to make students and workers to pay for the crisis of the rich. During the march many students showed interest in joining Sheffield Socialist Students and joining the fight that will continue against education cuts and putting pressure on the NUS to call further action.

Nottingham – by Helen Pattison

Socialist Students called a small demo at 11 which attracted a lot of attention, including from the campus security who tried to tell students it was against the law for them to hand out leaflets. Because it was an open day there were not only lots of students taking leaflets, but lots of future students who would be paying the fees who welcomed the action. The walkout got a good response and showed that the students were keen to keep up the pressure against the fees and cuts being proposed to universities. But there was also a lot of anger and the lack of support from both the NUS and the SU who were disappointed that they hadn’t heard about the action and it hadn’t been built for more widely.
Leicester – by Rebecca Christiensen

Around 20-30 engaged activists gathered at the steps outside Leicester Student Union protesting against privatisation of the university, education’s fees and also the cuts in general. We handed out a large amount of leaflets and got quite a few new contacts. Of course, a protest is not enough for Leicester Socialist Students so we are following up with a public meeting about the education cuts and privatisation to provide the political alternative and how we can fight it. Hopefully some of our new contacts will come along so that we can build a stronger Leicester Socialist Students.

Lincoln – by Alex Moore

40 students marched noisily around the campus of the University of Lincoln in protest against the rising of tuition fees and the cuts to education. After the rally which featured speakers from Socialist Students Lincoln, Youth Fight for Jobs Lincoln and Lincoln and District Trades Council, a teach-in was held in the university. Students listened to and discussed different topics such as Housing, Black Panther movement, Attacks on Public Sector pensions, and young people and politics. Socialist students organised and built for the demonstration and teach-in and was able to push the Student’s Union into helping organise the demonstration. This shows the key role active socialist students can have on campus.

Manchester, Hugh Caffrey

A good contingent of students marched from Manchester Uni to MMU against cuts fees, privatisation and for EMA. Socialist Students were to the fore in building for the demonstration and on the demonstration itself, it was our leaflets and our posters that provided the vast majority of publicity for the day and on the day. A Socialist Students public meeting in the evening in Salford attracted several students including 5 for whom this was a first ever Socialist Students meeting.

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