Solidarity with Defend Education Birmingham – call for national mobilisation

On November 23rd, Defend Education Birmingham released a statement saying that Birmingham University have started the process of applying for a 12-month injunction banning occupations on campus. Furthermore, the university management is targeting two individual students, threatening them with the legal costs of this injunction, which may exceed £10,000.

 

This is the latest in a recent string of attacks on students fighting for democratic control of their institutions and for better conditions of University workers. It comes on the back of the violent arrest of a student for chalking, the deployment of police armed with tasers on a London campus, the violent eviction of the Sussex occupation in April and the pre-emptive detainment and body searching of students in Edinburgh prior to Princess Anne’s visit to their campus. At an alarming rate, university managements and security services are increasing their co-operation with the police in efforts to repress any student action capable of disrupting the business agenda of universities. This environment is incompatible with independent thought – that which is supposedly valued above all else in education. It is a threat to all students, university workers and by extension to a society that ought to benefit from institutions of learning.

 

In response to this, the Autonomous Student Network (ASN) is issuing a warning to Birmingham University: If you proceed with this injunction and the victimisation of the two individual students, the ASN will mobilise a national demonstration on the Birmingham campus. We call on the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, the Revolutionary Socialist/ISN group, the Student Assembly Against Austerity and all other groups and individuals who value democratic education to sign up to this warning and to commit to mobilising the demonstration if Birmingham University does not back down in its attacks.

 

When Occupy Sussex called a national demonstration in March, up to 3000 students from across the UK descended on their campus. This was done without the help of the NUS. Anyone who remembers the demonstration will recall the level of militancy and the threat that this posed to Sussex University’s management. If the NUS were a real union controlled by students and run in the interests of students, then this is exactly the type of response to University attacks that we would expect. With the absence of any meaningful NUS activity, we must take matters into our own hands and co-ordinate our defence ourselves. The only way to ensure our security as students is to make repression costly for our oppressors. Its time to back up our words with action.

 

Solidarity with the Birmingham Occupation.

 

-The Autonomous Student Network

(Re)creating an Autonomous Student Network

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This is a call out for radical anti-authoritarian students and student groups interested in (re)creating a national Autonomous Students Network.

Following the statement of the original ASN(active in 2010-2011), we are proposing a network for building solidarity and grassroots power in our campuses, workplaces and communities as part of the struggle for radical social change.

The ASN would be a project aiming to highlight the problems facing higher education and the student movement and taking action to resolve these problems. In the bog of trotskyist soundbites, we need an anarchist discourse on education and student organisation that has a sustainable network of contact and support behind it. The network should have both a local and a UK-wide focus, allowing local groups to support each other’s actions and projects while also coordinating groups for joint action on wider issues.

We hear plenty about cuts to education but we hear nothing about how our universities have been taken over by oligarchies of professional managers running undemocratic institutions for business interests. Our universities depend on students, lecturers and staff to function. We should be the ones deciding how they are run.

Similarly, there are few voices pointing out that the NUS is perhaps the single biggest obstacle to the realisation of a strong student movement capable of bringing meaningful change. It is little more than a careerist ladder for future Labour politicians whose vested interest it is to suppress radical student action. The NUS is unreformable and unrepentant. It should be opposed with creative alternatives.

This is merely a post to test the waters. We look forward to hearing what people think. Get in touch by commenting here or by messaging Sheffieldautonomousstudents@riseup.net

In solidarity,

Sheffield Autonomous Students.