19 November demo is part of global student week of actions

studentsism

NCAFC is supporting the global “We are students not customers” student week of action, which is taking place 17-22 November (for more see here). [Read more…]

Some ideas for chants on 19 November demo!

bethmega1Here are some ideas for chants to use on the demonstration tomorrow. Please feel free to add more as comments! [Read more…]

Statement of support for free education demo from PCS union Young Members

A statement of support from the Young Members’ Network of the PCS trade union, which organises civil service workers. Thanks to the comrades! Originally published on their website here. [Read more…]

Bust card & know your rights workshop

This was originally posted on Defend the Right to Protest’s website, here.

If you’re going on next weeks free education demonstration use this downloadable bust card with key information on your rights if arrested/stopped and search and recommended lawyers who are there to help if needed. Here is a black and white version front and back

We are also hosting a know your rights workshop at our national conference this Sunday (16th November @SOAS) with Rachel Harger DtRtP, Kevin Blowe NETPOL and Taher Gulamhussein StopWatch who will address some of the key issues you might come across on a protest and how to deal with them. Printed bust cards will also be available for pick up.

If you can help on the day distributing bust cards give us a shout – email [email protected]

GBC are hosting a training day for Legal Observing on Saturday 15th November, 11am Start, London Action Resource Centre: 2 Fieldgate St, London E1 1ES . You can just turn up on the day, but it would be a help to email and confirm your [email protected]

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How to fill up your coach

Here are a few tips by  Callum Cant, Warwick for Free Education, on how to fill up your coach!

To getbus people on your coaches to the National Demo, I reckon you need to do three things:

1. Inform
2. Convince
3. Motivate

A potential demo attendee needs to know the demo is happening, they need to be convinced that Free Education is something they should fight for, and finally they need to be motivated to get out onto the streets.

None of these process are impossible. Every decent activist can tell someone about the demo, argue for free education and convey how exciting and generally amazing this national demo will be. The challenge lies not in having to do something new or unprecedented. It lies in having to put in the work to talk to enough people, engage them and involve them in the movement.

If you look at the testimony which comes out of the Quebec 2012 student movement you quickly get a sense that movements are built by people who are willing to do the hard work of organising and spreading the word (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOJLRzkbHFE).

What we need to do now – on our campuses, in our halls, on our streets – is the basic organising that provides the infrastructure for any political movement. This is the time for building. Just think of that moment on November the 19th when you turn around, look over the thousands of students in Trafalgar square, and sense that strength that we have in numbers. That’s what we’re working for.

If you’re stuck for organising ideas, here are a few quick tactics we’re trying on Warwick campus which you might be able to apply to your situation:

  • Photo petitions – take a poster with you around campus. Get people to hold it and smile, take photos, upload to Facebook, tag, and watch your social media reach double.
  • Tabling – this is probably called something more comprehensible at other unis. For us it means setting up a stall (or table) outside, decorating it with lots of nice banners and leaflets and talking to people for a few hours.
  • Teach ins – Get a room, get some speakers, and talk about how important Free Education is.
  • Rallies – assemble everyone in a central space on campus. A public show of strength can do a lot to enthuse members of your group and encourage them to get more involved.
  • Stickers/posters/powder paint/chalk – make your campus look nice and the demo look well supported and people will be much keener to come along.
  • Door Knocking – go round halls talking to people.
  • Free Education house party – What do you get when you take one large student house, 100s of free education posters, a band and some refreshments? A huge (and hopefully fun) recruiting tool. Try playing that old party favourite, ‘pin the costs of education on the banker’… Or not.
  • Get your SU to advertise – they already promote hundreds of events a term, so they know what they’re doing. Get promo materials on the website, get them to hand out leaflets, get them to print posters, get them to send out emails – whatever you can.
  • Pre-demo hype meeting – so you have between 10-300 (maybe even more) people going to the demo. Get them all in a room, get some music playing, and let the excitement spread.

Good Luck from Warwick, we’ll see you on the 19th!

 

Students Support Kobane!

Beth Redmond, NCAFC National Committee

Student and youth activists will be taking part in the London rally in support of Kobane and Kurdistan on 1 November – to show our support for democratic and left forces, including student and youth movements, in the region fighting ISIS.

We also want to show solidarity with the thousands of students and school students in Turkey who have taken action, against their own government, to support the Kurdish struggle.

The struggle is one of international significance from a feminist’s perspective; whilst fighting for basic and fundamental human rights for women, such as not being sold as objects into slavery, the people on the battlefield at the forefront of the fighting are inspiring women.

They need our support. It is a crying shame how little solidarity the British left is showing the Kurdish people, but we can begin to change that this Saturday.

Please meet us 2pm (1 November) in Trafalgar Square, by the bottom of the steps in front of the National Gallery. Look out for the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts banner.

For more information, ring 07891 714 146 or email [email protected]

The SWP, the Socialist Party & the Free Education Demo

Concerns have been raised with us about the involvement of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and Socialist Party (SP) in the organising of the Free Education Demonstration. We want to be clear that neither organisation has substantially contributed to the organisation of the demonstration. Moreover, NCAFC would strongly oppose inviting representatives of either organisation to speak at the demonstration rally or on a panel at any event leading up to the demo, although we are not currently aware of any such proposals. If participants in organising meetings for the demo promote misogyny or rape apologism, we would challenge them, and ultimately we would ask them to leave.

There are many people new to student activism who have no idea why many have severe disagreements with the SWP, and we urge you to read the links below which detail what has happened within their organisation. These people include new members or associates of the SWP: if this is you, we urge you to read about what has happened and speak to others outside the group, and we hope that you will then choose to join us in challenging the SWP’s behaviour. We also note that, though most have left by now, there are some members who stayed in the SWP to fight for transparency and womens’ rights.

NCAFC members will continue to challenge members of the SP and the SWP for their organisations’ terrible track records with respect to sexism and abuse.

For more information about the two organisations please see below.

Information on events within the SWP:

Information on events within the SP:

The importance of occupied spaces: why we didn’t just book a room for the teach in

defendeducYesterday we held a teach-in at the University of Birmingham as part of the two weeks of action leading up to the National Demonstration for Free Education, happening on 19th November. There were workshops on a wide range of issues from “What is happening in Higher Education?” to “How to incorporate intersectionality into your activism” and a look at student movements in Quebec, Germany and Hong Kong. We deliberately chose not to book a room for this event but instead to take a space on campus without the permission of the university. This made our teach in an “occupation” under the university’s definition. Previous occupations have been greeted with court injunctions, security guard violence and suspensions. So why bother? Why not just book a room and make our lives easier? By Defend Education Birmingham

By not participating in the management’s room booking system, we chose to reclaim a space that should simply be available to us as students of the university. Room bookings serve to exclude students from academic spaces, creating narrow sets of criteria which determine who does and does not have the right to use university space. We believe that the university is a community and should be run by the students and staff who study and work here. We do not accept the authority of management to control the behaviour of the rest of the university community and determine where, when and what is appropriate for them to engage with. By taking and occupying, we challenge the barriers set by the university and empower students to use their university in a way not defined for them by management.

We felt that this is particularly relevant when this event was aimed at the mutual education of students. We have created a space within the university where students can educate one another about the neoliberalism within our institution and higher education as a whole, where we can critique and question underlying assumptions which we are prevented from doing in our formal education. We can expand the idea of learning beyond sitting in lectures and reading books to an experience where we share our knowledge and learn from each other in ways not sanctioned by management.

The space we took was ours to control. All decisions within it were democratically made by those participating in the teach in. Actions like these demonstrate an alternative to the hierarchical, undemocratic governance which we must endure in so many aspects of our everyday lives and show participants that things can be organised differently, in a way where those affected by decisions are the ones to make them.

The value of occupations does not stop there. Although ours did not aim to be disruptive, using occupations to disrupt the normal functioning of universities is a tactic which can be used to great effect. Whilst as students we cannot withdraw our labour in the form of a conventional strike as workers might, we can instead take space and use what we do have, our bodies, to create a similar effect in shutting down key processes in the university until our demands are met. They also create actions of resistance worth talking about and will often garner far more media attention than if students simply write to newspapers detailing their oppositions to the university and the higher education system.

The sheer level of repression faced by students who engage in occupation and tens of thousands of pounds management are prepared to spend on stopping them, as the numerous injunctions taken out to evict and prevent occupations from happening on campuses from Sheffield to London, Birmingham to Sussex show, demonstrate that occupations pose a great threat to management’s authority and their unquestioned neoliberal agenda which is so strong that they feel they cannot tolerate it.

In the run up to the National Demonstration for Free Education and beyond, students should be occupying their campuses, creating democratic spaces to educate each other about what’s going on in Higher Education and the alternatives we’re fighting for and disrupting the university to demand that that management come out in favour of free education and other measures to improve the rights, democracy and power of students and staff.

If you are in London tomorrow, then come to the teach-in at UCL: https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/1487254114890866/

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Students Occupy Universities UK Headquarters

PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

STUDENTS OCCUPY UNIVERSITIES UK HEADQUARTERS

For information, contact: 07989235178 / 02076797219 / 07821731481

A group of London activists occupied the headquarters of Universities UK today, presenting the management with a “Degree in Bullshit: First Class Honours – Privatisation.”

The stunt took place in the middle of the fortnight of action, called by the National Campaign Against Fees And Cuts, in the build up to the National Demonstration for Free Education on November 19.

Students entered the building and attempted to meet with the Chief Executive in her office; however staff tried to prevent them from gaining access, blocking them and calling the police. Students managed to gain access to the corridor outside his office, but were prevented from going any

The Degree in Bullshit

further. After much negotiation, it was agreed that students could meet the most senior executive in the building: the Director of External Communications, however he refused to come and speak to the group of students or the press and instead insisted that only two people meet with him.

Shelly Asquith, SUArts President, said “We met with the Director of External Communications. He didn’t seem fazed about privatising our institutions or receiving this degree; he actually seemed almost proud.”

David Dahlborn, UCL Student, said: “When we met with the Director, he defended fees and marketization vigorously. Universities UK are foisting the neoliberal agenda over our higher education institutions, whilst we in contrast believe that they must be publicly funded and accessible to all. Having met with him, it seems the Bullshit Degree was well-deserved”

The police arrived and for a while detained the students, however all were allowed to leave without further recrimination.

Hattie Craig, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts National Committee, said: “It is absolutely ridiculous that the police were called. All we wanted was to deliver our message to Universities UK, and it is a shocking mark of the state of Higher Education that trying to meet with those who influence our universities is met with hostility and threats.”

Beth Redmond, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts National Committee, said: “The way that Universities UK treated our concerns has only strengthened our resolve to fight for free education and living grants for all.”

NOTES:

  1. Universities UK describes themselves as “the definitive voice for Universities in the UK.” It is a lobby group for Vice Chancellors and university managers, which has previously argued for raising the cap on tuition fees. (Source: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/interview-sir-christopher-snowden/2008521.article)
  2. The Fortnight of Free Education action was called by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and involves actions on campuses from Falmouth to Strathclyde, as well as several events in London.
  3. The Coalition of groups involved in calling the demonstration includes the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), the Student Assembly Against Austerity (the student wing of the People’s Assembly) and the Young Greens. The demo is backed by the NUS.
  4. The National Demonstration on November 19 will assemble at Malet Street, London, at around 12noon and march round Russell Square, down Kingsway to the Strand, and then to Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and ending at Parliament by 4pm.

bullshit degree protest

PRESS RELEASE: NATIONAL DEMO ROUTE ANNOUNCEMENT

Route announced for national demonstration as students prepare fight for free education

Contact: 07989235178, 07821731481

With three weeks left to go until the national demonstration for free education on November 19th, we are in a position to announce a route for the protest. The march will assemble at Malet Street at around 12noon and march round Russell Square, down Kingsway to the Strand, and then to Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and ending at Parliament by 4pm.

The demonstration is expected to attract thousands of students from all over the UK. Dozens of campuses are sending coaches, and the protest is due to be the largest of its kind since 2010.

Hannah Sketchley, from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, said: “We will be marching from the heart of the University of London – a symbolic site of protest over workers rights and the right to protest over the past year – to the centre of political power. We have no illusions that those inside will change their minds simply by persuasion: we are marching to make a point and build a movement.”

Hattie Craig, from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and Birmingham Defend Education said: “This demonstration isn’t just about one day of protest – it’s about building a movement for free education. Across the world, students have fought and won. The student movement has played a historical role of igniting a broader movement among workers and in communities, and we want to play that role again”…