Open letter: Solidarity with Aisling Gallagher!

We, the undersigned, believe that Queen’s University Belfast Student Union’s treatment of Aisling Gallagher is misogynistic, undemocratic and authoritarian.

Aisling has been banned from attending all NUS events, including NUS-USI (Union of Students Ireland) and NUS liberation events as a QUBSU delegate for voting pro-choice on a motion at USI national conference, when ordered by her union to remain ‘neutral’.

Aisling’s ban is unconstitutional; it contradicts NUS electoral policy which states that all elections must be fair and open to students regardless of politics. QUBSU has no formal punishment outlined for delegates who contradict union policy, and we believe that the punishment is disproportionately severe.

The top-down nature of the ban, instigated by the President is oppressive. Jason O’Neill is responsible for the silencing of political dissent, he is explicitly exercising his power to stop women like Aisling fighting for their right to choose what happens with their bodies.

We believe that the right to choose is not up for negotiation, and we reject any attempt to silence a woman as she fights for her right to a free, legal and safe abortion. No student should be banned from democratic participation for exercising their democratic rights.

You can help Aisling in the following ways:

Send solidarity to Aisling who can be contacted on [email protected] and @twoshadesofhope. We also urge you to contact QUBSU’s President Jason O’Neill and tell him that his sexist actions will not be tolerated.

Jason O’Neill:

Tel: 02890973106

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @JasonONeill1

You can also pass this motion (written by students at Warwick University) through your student union.

The Union Notes:

  1. That on Monday, 25th March 2013, at the Annual Congress of the Union of Students’ In Ireland, Aisling Gallagher, voted for the motion “Engaging with the Abortion Rights Campaign”.
  2. That on Tuesday 26th March 2013, at the Annual Congress of the Union of Students’ In Ireland, Aisling Gallagher, voted for the motion “Crisis Pregnancy Agencies”.
  3. That Gallagher’s delegate status at the Congress was subsequently removed.
  4. That Aisling Gallagher was a delegate of Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union (QUBSU).
  5. That QUBSU has policy to remain neutral on the subject of abortion.
  6. That on Tuesday 7th May 2013 the Annual Business Meeting (ABM) of QUBSU voted to “debar Ms Gallagher from attending any conference organised by a national union as a QUB SU delegate for the 2013-14 Academic Year.”
  7. The constitution of QUBSU, and in particular: The combination of Rule 2 10.8 (which says that delegate elections will held in the same manner as elections for the Executive Management Committee); Rule 2 10.4 (which says that nominations for delegate elections are like those for EMC); and Rule 2 9.6.1 (which says that anyone can run in an election for EMC) Chapter 1 8.2 (which says the government of the Union shall be based on the democratic principle that every ordinary member shall have the fullest opportunity to participate in Union affairs) Rule 10 2.2.4 which says that political belief is a protected characteristic under their Equality and Diversity Policy. Chapter 1 3.2, 3.9.3 and 3.9.4 which states the Aims of QUBSU as supporting equality of opportunity; freedom to participate in Union Elections; and the freedom of expression.

The Union Believes:

  1. That the vote at the ABM was illegitimate, since it goes against the Rules, Aims, Government and Structure of QUBSU.
  2. That every member of a Students’ Union should be able to stand in an election they are eligible for.
  3. That removing the ability to stand in an election is not an appropriate or democratic way to discipline someone for voting against SU policy.

The Union Resolves:

  1. To mandate the President and the Democracy and Development Officer to write an open letter to President and Director of QUBSU expressing our concern about the legitimacy of this decision and our support for Aisling Gallagher in this matter.
  2. To support Aisling Gallagher in the appeals process where appropriate.

Signed,

  • Naomi Beecroft, NCAFC women’s committee and national committee.
  • Edmund Schluessel, NUS NEC-elect & NCAFC NC
  • Ben Towse, UCLU Postgraduate Students’ Officer-elect & UCL UCU Exec Ctte
  • Lucy Jane Drummond – Women’s Officer, University of Stirling SU – NCAFC Scotland NEC – NUS National Women’s Committee & NUS Scotland Women’s Committee
  • Chris Walter, NCAFC Alba LGBTQ+ Rep (Trans* Place)
  • Richard Gough
  • Rob Abrams, Part-time Ethics Officer, Swansea University Students’ Union
  • Michael Chessum, NUS NEC
  • Arianna Tassinari, NUS International Students Campaign 2nd place NEC-elect
  • Nadia – Disabled Students Officer/ VP Societies and Activities at EUSA
  • Andy Irwin (Keele Postgraduate Association President, Keele University)
  • Sam Morecroft – NUS PG Committee Elect
  • Vijay Jackson, Vice President – Welfare, Sussex Coast College Hastings
  • Beti Scott, Equal Opportunities and Liberation Officer EUSA
  • Flora Cantacuzino Levy  / Vice President Edinburgh Jewish Society
  • Audrey Jordan, University of the Arts SU
  • Kara Stubbs Kent Union LGBT officer (women’s place)
  • Jack McGinn – Postgraduate External Affairs, EUSA
  • Tim Rouse
  • Hattie Craig VP Education (Elect) Birmingham Guild of Students
  • Miguel Costa Matos – UG Social Sciences Faculty Rep Elect, Warwick SU
  • Adam McGibbon, QUBSU Vice President Welfare and NUS-USI Regional Council, 2010-12
  • Barbara Muldoon QUB & P Drinan Solicitors
  • Jaime Starr NUS Disabled Students Committee LGBT Place
  • Hannah Webb – External Affairs and Campaigns elect UCLU, ULU Community and Housing
  • Shelly Asquith, President-Elect, University of the Arts SU
  • Conor Ryan – Policy and Democracy officer, University of Strathclyde Student Association
  • Joe Kelly
  • Yolly Chegwidden, co-LGBTUA+ Officer, Warwick SU and NUS LGBT Committee elect
  • Chris Geddis, Former NUS USI LGBT Officer
  • Chris Page, Welfare & Rights Officer (Cambridge University Students Union)
  • Kylie Noble, QUBSU student
  • Danielle Roberts, QUB alumnus, UUJ post graduate student
  • Emma Toner, SDLP Youth & QUBSU student
  • Ioana Cerasella Chis, University of Birmingham student
  • Tyler McNally, QUBSU Campaigns & Communications committee (Personal capacity)
  • Simon Furse NCAFC NC Birmingham Guild Vice President Education
  • Liam McNulty, Unison
  • Max Crema, Edinburgh University Students’ Association Vice President Services
  • Martin Nickolay-Blake, Unite Rep, IWW
  •  James McAsh, Edinburgh University Students’ Association President and NUS National Executive Council elect
  • Maham Hashmi, SOAS SU International Student Officer
  • Jack Saffery-Rowe, Royal Holloway LGBT+ officer-elect, NCAFC LGBTQ rep (open place)
  • Luke Frost, UCA Students’ Union, Maidstone Campus Officer
  • Rosie Huzzard NCAFC NC and NUS NEC Elect
  • Andrew Tindall, NCAFC NC (Wales)
  • Max Crema,  Vice-President Edinburgh University Students Association
  • Susuana Antubam, ULU Women’s Officer – elect, NUS Women’s Commitee – elect.
  • Sarah Moffat, Edinburgh University Students’ Association Women’s Liberation Convener, NUS Scotland Women’s Committee
  • Hannah Louise Wright, NCAFC SC Women’s Ctte, Shared Disabled place.
  • Daniel Cooper Vice President University of London Union
  • Sean Farmelo Community Action Officer, Birmingham
  • Roshni Joshi NCAFC NC, NUS NEC
  • Lucy Eskell – Edinburgh external campaigns rep
  • Matthew Reuben, NCAFC NC (disabled rep)
  • Tom Meadowcroft, Councillor Staffordshire SU
  • Mae Rohani – Women’s Officer elect University of Birmingham
  • Roz Burgin CAO-elect University of Birmingham
  • Matthew Smith, President, Ruskin College Students’
    Union.
  • Steven Pettitt – Student, Royal Holloway University of London
  • Paul Smyth LLM QUB (1998)
  • Alice Swift Ethical and Environmental Officer Birmingham Guild
  • Tom Wragg Vice President Democracy and Resources (elect) Birmingham Guild
  • Rosie Booth Women’s Officer University of Birmingham Guild of Students
  • Beth Redmond NCAFC NC
  • Ed Maltby NCAFC NC
  • Luke Durigan NCAFC NC
  • Aidan Turner, Secretary, Glasgow University Labour Club
  • Annabel Jones, NUS Women’s Committee, Birkbeck Students’ Union Chair
  • Shauneen Conlon – President of QUB FemSoc
  • Chris Murray – NUSUSI Disabled Students Officer 2013-2014
  • Hamish Yewdall Lay Student Councillor (elect) Nortumbria Students Union
  • Kelly McBride, President. University of Sussex Students’ Union
  • Alannah Ainslie, Aberdeen University, Working Class Officer
  • Chloe Minish, QUBSU Student Council 2010 – 2013
  • Roisin Jackman, QUBSU
  • Niamh Devereux, President-Elect, IADT SU, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin

Romanian students’ university occupation

Comment by Ioana Cerasella Chis, a Romanian student studying in the UK

On the 26th of March thirty students at the Babes Bolyai University in Cluj occupied a lecture theatre in response to the government not implementing their promised education policies and the declining quality of education. Meanwhile, other students at the University of Bucharest occupied their History Building in solidarity, making similar demands.

[Read more…]

Statement from Romanian university occupations

Students demand the university respect freedom of discussion. Image courtesy Se Poate Cluj.

Students demand the university respect freedom of discussion. Image courtesy Se Poate Cluj.

NCAFC are in contact with two student occupations in Romania, Se Poate Cluj (“It can be done Cluj”) and Baricada Universitară (“Barricade University”) in Bucharest. This is a statement from the groups.

On the 26th of March, approximately 30 students from several faculties in Cluj occupied a room from the central building of the Babeş-Bolyai University, the Nicolae Iorga amphitheater, declaring it a free debate zone, accessible to anyone regardless of their social or academic status. The occupation occurred after an abusive attempt on behalf of the university to stop the screening of Blokada, a documentary about the occupation of the Zagreb University’s Philosophy Faculty.

Considering the sustained increase in security of the central building following a protest against the awarding of the Doctor Honoris Causa title to a renowned lobbyist, Gunther Verheugen, students felt that the right to debate and discuss any kind of topic is being infringed upon by the university.

Students debate in a General Assembly

Students debate in a General Assembly. Image courtesy Se Poate Cluj.

Following the occupation in Cluj, students of the History Faculty from Bucharest University also occupied an amphitheatre, also called Nicolei Iorga amphitheater, in support of the students in Cluj. After several attempts to persuade the occupiers to go home, some attempts being done even with the help of the police, the heads of the university accepted the presence of the students and their will to challenge the dominant direction of the university.

The commodification of education, the market orientation of most faculties, the spirit of entrepreneurship dominating the university’s administration, not to mention the lack of equal opportunities for education, high unemployment rate of graduates and the high cost of living for most of Romania’s students are just some of the major problems that the academic environment is encountering today.

Banners hung outside the university call for freedom of debate

Banners hung outside the university call for freedom of debate. Image courtesy Se Poate Cluj.

Six days later, both occupations are still running, and in Cluj the main plenum, open to everybody, managed to bring together hundreds of students, but also professors, unhappy with the current state of affairs. Several demands have been formulated, such as a higher percent of the GDP for education, a free second faculty, and a kind of major/minor system just to name a few. Yet, the debate is ongoing and there is no urgency in formulating detailed demands over education. Also, these debates aim at not only repeating the age old path of the student representatives involving petitions and chants, but also direct action and student mobilization. There is only one world, hence one struggle: students of the world, self-organize.

Swansea versus the National Front: a win, but not a flawless victory

Campaign Against Fees & Cuts Cymru

Four hundred anti-fascists faced down fewer than sixty supporters of the neo-fascist, extreme-right National Front on Saturday March 10th as the NF gathered in the cosmopolitan port city to celebrate “White Pride World Wide”, in a demonstration and counter-demonstration both contained by a strongly-biased South Wales Police. [Read more…]

Conference going on NOW – Get involved

Our conference is taking place right now at UCL, across the road from the main quad. Come down and get involved.

Winter 2011 Battle Plan for education

Position of strength

  1. The great youth and student rebellion in the last weeks of 2010 has put us in a strong position to continue the fight against fees and cuts in 2011, and we intend to win!
  2. The dynamism, size and radicalism of our protests – bringing school, college and university students together – took the government by surprise and hit them hard. They may have won the vote, but with the slimmest of majorities and at huge cost. The hypocrisy of those MPs who lied to get elected, then turned their back on students was exposed for millions to see.
  3. It spelled an end to the lie that young people are apathetic and uninterested in politics. It showed that we are no soft target for cuts and we will fight injustice all the way!
  4. We need to work hard to mobilise the many thousands of students who have become active for the National Day of Action on 26 January and the demonstrations in London and Manchester on 29 January.

Student and workers unite and fight!

  1. Some cities and towns across the UK saw large regular assemblies of school, college, university students and workers get together to decide how to proceed with campaigns.
  2. Even though parliament has voted through fee rises and funding cuts, these have yet to be implemented. Education assemblies should continue to fight the cuts and fee rises under the slogan: “Not a single penny on the fees, not a single cut to our jobs or courses”. Workers and students should agree to take direct action – strikes, occupations, lobbies, etc. – to block the cuts at university, college and school level.
  3. The movement certainly had an impact not just on the government but on the trade unions too. The Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ section received articles from the leaders of both the Unite and PCS unions praising the students and promising coordinated strike action in the months ahead. We will issue a call for union support for both 26 and 29 January, emphasising solidarity against the cuts.
  4. The GMB and London region UCU have said they will support a protest on 29 January. National education campaigns should meet with them to discuss how they can support us.
  5. The trade unions might be slow to move sometimes but with many teachers, lecturers and other workers joining student protests, marking students present on protest days and issuing statements of support it is clear we can work together. Young people and workers together have the power to shutdown the whole country and defeat these government’s cuts.
  6. This means asking them to support us – take part in our protests, invite them to our meetings, ask them to help fund our campaigns. They should use their websites, texts and emails to help build our protests. At times we may need to challenge union officials quite forcefully.
  7. It means us supporting them –  and fighting ALL the cuts, whether they are to education, healthcare, housing, welfare, services, pensions, and jobs. If we unite we are strong, if we value education at the expense of other services we divide our movement and become weaker. In the period ahead, workers will be fighting too – and we should make sure we have a powerful presence on their picket lines.
  8. We call on the UCU to fully support anti-cuts groups and the wider student movement beyond the NUS, and to fulfil their role in helping mobilise the education sector workers in their struggle.
  9. Now we will launch a massive effort to invite community groups, national trade unions, pensioner groups, trade unions branches and local anti-cuts campaigns to support and join in with every protest possible and support their demands.
  10. Recent statements by union leaders including Len McCluskey and Mark Serwotka saying the unions must fight are great – and will work with union activists seeking to hold them to this. A great start would be for teachers, lecturers and students to launch a national education strike.

Fight nationally and locally

  1. Local councils are suffering a massive cut in funding from the Con-Dems and that in turn will lead to hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs and all of us losing services we rely on.
  2. Most towns and cities now have local anti-cuts groups, coalitions of trade unionists and community groups. Youth and student should get involved in these groups and help to build them, by sending delegates from every school, college and university. The education assemblies should affiliate to their local anticuts groups and work as autonomous groups linked to the wider movement.
  3. We should demand that councils to do not implement the cuts and use their resources to engage every section of the community in a political fight against cuts. This government is illegitimate and has no right to smash up everything we rely on whilst the rich continue to get off scot-free.

Save EMA

  1. EMA access has already closed to new applicants and students who currently receive it will only receive it until the beginning of summer holidays. Then we will no longer get it – even if we still need to spend another year at college or sixth form. Parliament look set to have decided they won’t even vote on it.
  2. ALL OUT TO SAVE EMA!
  3. Many cities have already built up strong links between students and workers, now we need to use them. We will ask every councillor in every city to condemn the abolition of EMA. We will demand FE college managers and headteachers release statements condemning the abolition of EMA and requesting reinstatement, and put this up clearly on the college websites. This should be backed up with protest if they refuse to comply. We will make the colleges and schools ungovernable.
  4. We will invite councillors to speak at student and youth meetings, and ask them in front of the audiences to support our campaign and join the fight against fees and cuts to EMA.
  5. We will write articles to the local and national newspapers explaining how it will effect us and call for radical, direct action – including walkouts and occupations for EMA reinstatement

Make Labour fight

  1. The leadership of the Labour Party supports a graduate tax – and they have not promised to reverse the raising of the cap on fees. We should demand that Labour makes this promise, that they change their policy to free education and that they support student protests. We should work with the left in the Labour Party and with the affiliated trade unions to push forward these demands.
  2. Parliament have voted on raising the cap on tuition fees – but that doesn’t mean universities need to implement them.
    We will demand Vice Chancellors and university managers pledge not to raise the cap, and will use every form of action – protests, occupations, etc to make sure they do not.

Continue to fight fees and cuts

  1. In addition to the demand that university managements do not raise fees, university and college anti-cuts groups should develop a program of local demands on which they can fight (against particular cuts, in defence of courses and departments, for the cutting of senior management salaries etc etc). This is necessary in itself and also in order to give the movement a self-sustaining character.

TUC demonstration

  1. The TUC, which represents the whole trade union movement is holding what can be a massive demonstration on 26 March. We should start building for this now – and use every action we call to help get people along to this protest

Student unions

  1. Anti-cuts activists should seek to take over their student unions by running in SU elections. However, it is not just a question of replacing one set of officers with another. Most student unions are heavily bureaucratised. Anti-cuts candidates should seek to advocate replacing structures which act as a barrier to student involvement with the kind of democratic structures that have grown up in the anti-cuts movement, such as student general assemblies.
  2. We should help FE student activists to investigate transforming their student unions, or where necessary set them up.
  3. We advocate that school students set up regularly functioning, democratic committees or unions which can link up with university and town anti-cuts committees. They should apply for affiliation to NUS; we will fight in NUS for the ban on school students becoming part of the national union to be abolished.

Calendar

  1. 22 January – National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts conference
  2. 26 January – Day of action and walkouts against cuts to EMA (Day X4)
  3. 29 January – Regional protests in London and Manchester against EMA cuts
  4. 30 January –National Education Assembly, London
  5. 14-19 February – Coalition of Resistance week of action
  6. 26 March – National TUC demonstration

Live Blog from Demo Today

Our activists will be sending in short reports as well as photos and videos from the demonstration today which will update on the live blog below automatically.

Please share widely as this could be useful for distributed information sharing.

Please send any photos for inclusion (in small format, preferably on image hosting sites rather than attached) to [email protected]

Tune in Thursday 10am for Live Blog!

We’ve got a live blog planned from 10am tomorrow for the protests against the Tutition Fees.

Various members of the campaign will be sending messages, photos, video and audio live from the front lines of the protest. The software is all set up ready and our members will be updating the blog instantly using their phones or calling in to NCAFC blogging team.

To submit info or photos (please link rather than attach) tomorrow in the protests please email [email protected]

No Nato! Sussex student Tom Wills hammers new Nato lecturer Jamie Shea

Sussex University student Tom Will launches a political attack on International Relations lecturer Jamie Shea, an apologist for Britain’s wars overseas. Sussex university have faced protest after hiring him, so students attending his first lecture decided to challenge his views.

Listen to it here:

Tom Wills vs Jamie Shea by TomWills

Northern students coordinate militant action against fees and cuts

Students from 10 northern universities and colleges call for:

  • Support for the “free education” bloc on the 10 November NUS/UCU demo
  • Support for day of action and walkouts on 24 November
  • Further coordination and networking among northern students

[Read more…]