Interview with Ella Wind on US Grad Student Organising

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On 14 September 2018, NCAFC member Dan Davison interviewed Ella Wind, a Sociology PhD student at New York University (NYU) involved in the Graduate Student Organizing Committee (GSOC), the union of graduate employees affiliated with United Automobile Workers (UAW) Local 2110. For more info about GSOC-UAW Local 2110, visit their website at https://makingabetternyu.org/.

Q: In the UK, grad students are often members of the University and College Union (UCU), the national trade union for academic staff in higher education. There is no equivalent national union in the US, and many grad students are instead members of UAW and other unions not specific to the higher education sector. Could you please explain how this situation came about?

A: Not only are graduate students members of the UAW, but they’re also members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which is probably the closest fit – that tends to be the national teachers’ union; and UNITE HERE, which usually does hotel and retail workers. So graduate students and adjunct staff [1] tend to be part of a variety of national unions, none of which are exclusive to academic workers.

I actually don’t know the exact history of how that came about originally. I imagine it’s just that academic workers really began to unionise after there was already the rapid decline in unions in the United States and so there was never really a national union created, but it really creates this interesting system. I was just at the Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions (CGEU) conference – that’s for all the graduate workers across different unions in North America, so Canada and the US – and a really interesting feature of that conference is how much of an emphasis there is on militant unionism and a sort of anti-business unionism common sense, which is really lacking in the general American labour movement.

I was reflecting on why that was the case at that conference and I think part of it is that, because graduate workers are so spread out across so many different union sectors and national unions, no one national is able to dominate a conference like that and set the tone from a top-down perspective. So actually it makes things more grassroots and I think that it creates these interesting dynamics in terms of how academic workers organise themselves, and what sort of information gets shared between people in terms of best organising practices and such.

Q: Has the lack of a national trade union for education workers presented a serious obstacle to better pay and working conditions, and have there been efforts to coordinate workers across multiple institutions in the absence of a national union?

A: I think it certainly does present obstacles, although I actually cannot think of any concrete examples of things that I’ve come across in organising myself. I think – possibly because of the nature of our work, in which we tend to be organised in cross-national networks by the nature of our research, where our workplaces aren’t just these physical places but very much exist on the Internet and in these sorts of inherent national/international networks – that graduate workers have been rather successful in coordinating across our different small union units and even across national unions. And that’s really picked-up pace in the last few years, I think.

So CGEU Conference has been around for a while – the conference we just had a month was the 27th annual conference – but it’s really picked up steam in the last few years and has a lot more attendees. It’s become a lot more active and taken on a life of its own even compared to historically. There’s also all this other coordination that is going on beneath the surface. We, for example, we have XCRF, the Cross-campus Rank and File Movement. It’s basically this cross-campus network that we have in New York City metro area because New York probably has the highest union density for graduate workers in the country, in line with New York having the highest overall union density in the United States. We have an email network where we send each other questions about organising things, we get in touch with each other if we need strike preparation help, and we hold a few in-person meetings and retreats annually – all sorts of different communication and collaboration happens.

There’s also this new initiative that’s just come out of XCRF a month ago, called the File, which is going to be a free, online resource for graduate worker organisers. Eventually, it’s going to have templates for training sessions for organisers or all the contracts that have been negotiated across the country, or guides to organising around specific issues, which aren’t available anywhere right now as one single resource. Any kind of information that gets produced in terms of best organising practices is all going to be put into the File (after ‘rank and file’ – it’s play on that!) and that’s actually an outgrowth of this cross-campus coalition listServ/New York organising group that we’ve been putting together for the last few years.

Also, the CGEU listServ is fairly active and people email each other asking questions like ‘What does your contract look like in terms of these specific provisions for breastfeeding facilities?’ or other things that you wouldn’t necessarily just have as language in your contracts.

So there’s lots of different organising going on in terms of how people are coordinating and I think it’s been fairly effective, especially considering how new the upsurge has been and, like I said, I think that’s partially a product of the nature of academic research and work. A lot of it is sort of new, so maybe it will all fizzle out, but so far I feel fairly optimistic about it.

Q: Could you please describe how you went about unionising grad students on your own campus? How did you set up the union and persuade people that it was worth joining?

So NYU has a particular history. We have a very unusual union – to this day, we are still the only private university in the United States where graduate students have a recognised union with a contract, and we actually have that designation as the first and only union with that two times in a row! We were first established in the 1990s: that’s when the campaign kicked off for a union at NYU for graduate workers, GSOC, and we were able to organise, win a contract, and then, after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) changed under George Bush and reversed precedent on whether graduate students were considered workers, NYU Administration actually unilaterally withdrew recognition of our contract and of our union. In response, we held a semester-long strike in 2005. It was extremely brutal from what I heard (I wasn’t around at the time) and it failed to re-win recognition.

Basically, we were operating unofficially in that we were unrecognised and without contract, for the following eight years until 2013. The UAW, our parent union, was just having us file these appeals to the NLRB for several years, filling out these petitions, taking trips to Washington to try to talk to lobbyists. From what I’ve heard from people who finished before me and were part of that period of our union, it was a very demoralising process and there wasn’t a lot of thought to how the union could still try to fight for better working conditions, even outside of recognition – a kind of a rank and file approach where our power comes from being organised as a group of workers versus a more legalistic approach in which our power comes from official recognition and representation.

My understanding from GSOC members who were around in this period is that, with the rise of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) in New York City, a lot of people who had been involved in union efforts got pulled into New York University for Occupy Wall Street (NYU4OWS) and got really interested in organising and much more interested in left-wing politics. People started to read Jane McAlavey – I’m not sure if you know here in the UK, she’s a well-known organizer and writer in the US labour movement on rank and file organising in ‘right to work’ states. [2] She works with nurses and she’s a really big advocate of open bargaining. People are very inspired by that approach.
Coinciding with these organisers becoming more interested in a rank and file approach and becoming more radicalised by Occupy Wall Street, there was an opportunity where NYU had a series of scandals that gave it a lot of bad press. (In New York City there was already really no love lost for NYU). That, coupled with anticipation of the Obama NLRB board coming in, created this opening where NYU as a gesture of goodwill negotiated with the UAW to have us re-recognised, or to have a vote for us to be re-recognised if we got majority support for reinstating the union.

That kicked off the big campaign to have a union election which we won by a huge, huge margin and then, when we started contract negotiations again,there was already this core of organisers who had been organizing on and around campus for the previous few years through the work through OWS, and had been radicalized through that and by reading this more radical union history and literature. They were really excited to try to implement some rank and file-driven and militant organising principles. There were a lot of struggles as to what kind of strategy we were going to take, but ultimately I think that group won and we were able to have this really dynamic organising campaign around our contract, which ended up netting us a very successful contract in my opinion!

Q: In the UK, one common barrier to collective solidarity and action amongst PhD students is the felt need to get experience and keep management happy in order to progress in their careers. How have grad student unions in the US managed to overcome this barrier?

I think it’s a problem we definitely still struggle with and have not fully solved. It may be the biggest challenge for academic worker organising: this very strange, sort of feudalistic relationship that we have with our supervisors in which they have this incredible amount of power over us in ways that can really be so personalistic and unusual. We’ve recently had at NYU the Avital Ronell scandal, which I suppose you’ve heard of: just one close-to-home example of this obviously huge and widespread problem.

Part of the way you see this play out is that certain types of disciplines are more likely to become involved in union organising than other types of disciplines. I’m a sociologist – I think that my relationship with my adviser, while still having that kind of potential for high levels of personalistic control through the need for a favourable letter of recommendation, is less acute than, for example, someone working in a lab with a Principal Investigator (PI). [3] I think we often see in the union that people in the humanities, people in the social sciences, tend to be overrepresented as a percentage of activists in our unit versus people who are in biology, computer science – even psychology, for example – and a lot of times the way people explain this is simply by an ideological commitment (‘sociology has all these Marxists’). This may be part of the explanation, but I think we end up underestimating how much that really intense PI relationship is a crucial factor that inhibits people in STEM from union organising.

It seems that there is a growing recognition of that. Previously, I think that people always just said this was fully explained by the ideological aspect, ‘Of course the people in social sciences are going to become more involved!’, but recently there’s just been more of a realisation that, actually, what may be more important is that STEM has this particular structural aspect, which makes get those grad workers involved in organising especially difficult and especially important.

At the CGEU conference last month, we had an ‘Organising in STEM’ panel, which I didn’t attend unfortunately, but I heard was one of the most popular panels at the conference. People thought it had these really interesting insights into the specific structural issues that STEM students face. I think that looking more closely at that is going to be what we need to do in the next few years because those disciplines are so inhibited from getting more interested in organising because of the particularities of that relationship.

More generally, I think that at core this is a collective action problem, which requires collective action solutions. I know that people who were involved at NYU as the campaign was picking up steam leading into our election said that there were these certain departments where the culture was really, really terrible in terms of what professors could expect to ask of their grad students. The sort of Avital Ronell-esque stuff, you know, like ‘Can you pick up my dry cleaning?’ or very weird sorts of requests that just should not be happening in terms of the proper boundaries of the professor-graduate student relationship. When there were campaigns for everyone to wear union buttons or other campaigns that made it clear that the majority of graduate students in that department were really supporting the union, those requests quickly declined and became a lot less common.
I think that’s why organising beyond one-on-one conversations is so important – we need to have these union actions be public, have people come out as a collective. I know it’s just the clichéd union stuff, but it’s kind of clichéd for a reason! I don’t know if that answers the question, but where I think that’s where the wins we’ve had have been and where our future challenges lie.

Q: What is solidarity like between undergrad and grad students? Are undergrad student activists keen on supporting the specific struggles of grad students and vice versa?

My understanding is that part of the reason that the 2005 strike was not successful was a lack of strong undergrad support, which made it less costly for NYU to just ignore us for a full semester of striking. That led to people being very careful when we were having strike preparation during our contract campaign to very early on cultivate ties with undergraduates.
I think we also benefited, like I said, from this changed political culture in the United States post-OWS where there was a very active student group on campus: for example, the Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM), which would work on things like unionising janitorial workers on campus, so they were already a great undergraduate group for us to reach out to as we were ramping up our contract campaign. We had these organic ties to groups like Students for Justice in Palestine and through those groups we started building out networks with undergraduates.

We also tried to incorporate undergraduates in a lot of different ways. For example, we implemented open bargaining in the Jane McAlavey style, and we had one open bargaining session where we had undergraduates attend and they actually gave testimonials as to why their Teaching Assistants (TAs) were so important for their education. A lot of them said that their TAs were much more important than their professors in terms of what they learned in undergrad! They talked about specific TAs that they had really just loved and thought were incredibly effective educators. Being in the bargaining room is generally just a really empowering experience for people and those undergrads who came to testify then came to all kinds of action we held afterwards. I think it kind of sucked them in.

We also developed a guide to talking to your undergrads after class about the upcoming strike: telling them why we’re going on strike, the issues with our contract, what they’re trying to offer us, what we’re asking for, etc. I believe that this was effective and, for me, the proof was what happened, when we were on the deadline of the strike (I think about two days before) and NYU sent out this email to the entire campus – professors, undergrads, every member of NYU campus – about how we had these really unreasonable demands and we were threatening to go on strike irresponsibly. We started to immediately get flooded with these CC’s of professors and undergrads responding to this email from NYU Administration, telling NYU Admin that they were disgusting or that they should be ashamed of spreading these lies. Then a group of undergrads spontaneously self-organised to have a petition, and they got around 1000 signatures and had a rally to deliver the petition to the President’s office in the library. That was all when we were too busy preparing for the strike and I do think that is part of the reason why NYU caved on the night of the strike deadline: because the show of undergrad support was much bigger than it had been during the previous strike.

The levels of undergraduate-graduate solidarity I think really vary from institution to institution, so that’s just our personal story, but I do think some of the general parameters – in terms of there being these student labour groups on campuses now, and also groups like the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), in the kind of post-OWS, post-Bernie moment – really help give a base for doing that kind of work in terms of reaching out to undergraduates who would be sympathetic.

Q. Is there a general sense that precarious employment is not taken sufficiently seriously as a sector-wide issue by more senior members of staff?

Yes, that’s a very common complaint people have about their academic advisers: that they completely underestimate how bad the job market can be, especially in certain disciplines. I think also at schools like NYU we have the sort of ‘prestige hand waving’ argument: like ‘Well, yes, the job market is bad, but you know – you’re an NYU student: what are you worried about? You will be the one to get those few jobs that exist!’

So yeah, that is a definite common complaint people have about the way their advisers talk about the job market. But I also think that’s become less true over years because it’s gotten much more difficult to deny how bad it is at this point, and I think that’s part of what accounts for the rise in support for and kick-off in organising graduate worker unions across the country recently.


Q. Are student and education worker struggles on campus in the US generally conceptualised as a fight against marketisation the way they are in the UK?

At NYU, it’s funny that we’re the first and still only union with a contract at a private university because NYU is sort of the cutting edge of the corporate American university! It’s almost like the Ivy League of that! They’re really kind of the innovators in terms of best practices from a corporate perspective of how you create this university that has big profit margins, etc.

So our experience has been as workers in sort of the ultimate expression of a university which is already highly ‘marketised’. I should first say also that the recent wave of university unionising in the United States has focused around private universities, which until now have been, as I said, totally underrepresented in terms of organising, but actually are very ripe for it because they have these big budget surpluses and endowments so they could actually afford very easily to pay their workers a lot more. Like at NYU, what we were asking for in our contract amounted to a tiny, tiny sliver of what they have in excess every year!

But in terms of what I know about workers in public universities – public universities in the United States have had graduate worker unions and academic unions for much longer. I think the University of Wisconsin-Madison was the first public, unionised university. [4] University of Michigan, University of California… a lot of these big universities have historically had unions and they have definitely been involved in the fight against marketisation, especially now in this changing political culture in the United States.

I know that, for example, at the University of California (UC) – which has one of our major sister unions under the UAW – they were highly involved in the campaign a few years back against tuition hikes. Just as the OWS experience breathed life into the union at NYU, I’ve heard that the tuition hike protests at Berkeley hat was actually a really big part of reviving the union — people getting involved in the activism around that broader issue helped bring new organizing dynamics in the lead up to a contract campaign later. And it was also sort of a point of contention between the UC union and the UAW national union, which tends to be a bit more narrowly focussed on just negotiating the contract and not as much on these broader issues of, for example, democratising the university.

Another great example is at the University of Wisconsin when they had the big protests at the Capitol: that was one of the early waves of protests in the US in the Occupy Wall Street era. It’s my understanding that the University of Wisconsin-Madison union was very involved in that and they sent a lot of people to the capitol. That was also a big part of reviving organising in their union.

In short, yes, at public universities, they’ve been very involved in the fight against marketisation. At the same time, I should say, public universities struggle a lot in terms of organising because we have these laws in the US that prevent them from striking in a lot of cases. That’s the case in New York State: under the Taylor Law [5], in the City University of New York (CUNY) system, their academic workers cannot go on strike – they are forbidden by law and that is of course a huge impediment to effective organising! There’s been some grassroots campaigns like CUNY Struggle to have illegal strikes, which haven’t quite become successful yet, but have had some wins in terms of pushing the union to be a little bit more militant.

Now the public university unions are going to face even more obstacles coming forward with the Janus decision from the US Supreme Court. It will be, at least in the short term, a huge blow. I’m sort of sympathetic to the argument that there could be some really big wins in the long term, in terms of that ruling, but in the short term it’s going to be extremely devastating to public university organising, and that’s really unfortunate because that is the vanguard of protecting the public university system in the US from these constant efforts to undermine it — charging ever-more tuition that goes to a larger, highly-compensated, upper-level bureaucracy while undermining the job security of the people who teach students.

Q. What’s the most important lesson to carry forward to grad students? What message should we give them to encourage them to stand up collectively for their rights?

Our unofficial slogan in our union is ‘Collective action gets the goods!’ and I think that it’s proven to be true. We really reoriented our union in a very dramatic fashion towards organising that was as collectively focused as possible; as much oriented towards big, public actions as possible; oriented towards getting graduate workers in the room bargaining, seeing the actual mechanics of bargaining, seeing what the other side says in bargaining. All that I think is incredibly powerful and I have to believe is a big part of why we were able to negotiate a contract which has been celebrated in the academic labour movement as an example of what a successful graduate worker union can do when they really organise.

I think that principle – of having actions that really put the rank and file first, and the belief that our power comes from our collective abilities and not from our strict legal representation – is really important to keep always at the front of your mind.

***

[1] An adjunct staff member in the US is roughly equivalent to an associate staff member in the UK, i.e. someone who teaches part time on a limited term contract.
[2]‘Right to work’ states are states with statutes prohibiting mandated union membership and dues. In this context, ‘right to work’ is essentially a right-wing euphemism that allows employers to frame union-busting as a defence of personal liberty.
[3] The ‘Principal Investigator’ (PI) is the lead researcher of a grant project who acts as the head of the laboratory. From this position of authority, the PI controls people’s access to new experiments, authorship attributions on group-written research papers, etc.
[4] This was the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA), formed during an anti-conscription sit-in in the spring of 1966, inspired in part by earlier efforts to unionise student workers and in part by the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley. The TAA completed its first contract with the university in 1970 and still exists today.
[5] Also known as the Public Employees Fair Employment Act, the Taylor Law was put in effect in 1967 and curtails the right of public employees to strike, with a penalty of an additional day of pay for each strike day, removal of Dues Check-off, and imprisonment of the Union president.

Cops Off Campus! Why Labour should beware ‘workers in uniform’

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By Dan Davison, NCAFC Postgrads and Education Workers Co-Rep

It’s been a dramatic few days in Cambridge. On Friday 25 May 2018, bailiffs forcefully evicted students occupying the Greenwich House administrative building of the University, mere hours after the University won a court order against the protestors. The week-long occupation, co-ordinated by Cambridge Zero Carbon Society, demanded that the University commit to full divestment from fossil fuels by 2022. For their repressive deed, the University employed Constant & Co, an enforcement agency previously used to carry out the horrific Dale Farm traveller site eviction in 2011.

The eviction of the occupiers has met widespread outcry. In addition to statements from such Cambridge student bodies as the CUSU BME Campaign and the Graduate Union, three open letters are being circulated. One is a condemnation of the eviction and of the University’s failure to divest, signed by Cambridge students, staff and alumni; one is for Cambridge alumni pledging to boycott donations to the University; one is for Cambridge academics to reject the unsatisfactory report of the University’s Divestment Working Group. Importantly, a rally has been called for 30 May at 5PM under the joint slogans of ‘Divest Now!’ and ‘Cops Off Campus!’.

The events of Friday have uncomfortable echoes with previous uses of police, courts, bailiffs, and other elements of the state’s legal machinery to repress campus activism. On 11 December 2013, NCAFC called a national day of action for ‘Cops Off Campus’, with 3,000 people demonstrating at the now-abolished University of London Union (ULU) in Malet Street and many others participating in direct actions across the country. This was in response to 41 arrests the week before, including those made when police stormed a 100-strong student occupation of Senate House, where the University of London is headquartered. The same week saw five Sussex University students suspended for participating in an occupation, and managers at Sheffield and Birmingham going to court to suppress campus activism.

In 2014, a demonstration at Birmingham ended in kettling and mass arrests. That year also saw the brutal eviction of a sit-in at Warwick, with CS spray used and tasers aimed at students after management called the police on them. The courts granted injunctions to both institutions in order to restrain the students from future protesting, as occurred the following year at the University of Arts London (UAL). More recently, government surveillance under the Prevent Strategy – especially of students from Muslim backgrounds – has entered the spotlight for its suppression of students’ rights to organise and express their opinions freely on campus, and for its contribution to the hostile environment that foreign nationals experience.

All this places the Labour Party’s recent positioning on policing and security in a disconcerting light. Since the General Election and the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, Labour have been keen to present themselves as the party of ‘law and order’. They regularly attack the Tories for their substantial police cuts, and pledge to increase the numbers of police officers, border guards, and prison officers. The youth and student demographics base much of the Corbyn surge, yet such vows as that to put 10,000 more ‘bobbies on the beat’ are very much at odds with these demographics’ acute experience of police brutality and other state repression.

The juxtaposition becomes especially striking in light of the ‘Grime 4 Corbyn’ movement’s role in generating support for Labour amongst young people, particularly those from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds. Although it was eventually scrapped in November 2017, for years the Metropolitan Police’s infamous ‘Form 696’ risk assessment required nightclub owners to describe the style of music they played and the ethnicity of its target audience, leading to discriminatory measures against events featuring predominantly black genres.

It is understandable why calling for ‘more cops’ is the knee-jerk reaction to rising violent crime and terrorist incidents. Nevertheless, it is strongly doubtful whether even the best intentioned increase in police numbers and prison sentences actually makes vulnerable communities safer, especially given the high rates of reconviction observable across the country and the lack of discernible effect that mass ‘stop and search’ has on reducing crime.

More to the point, we as socialists should not lose sight of the police’s repressive purpose as an enforcer of bourgeois state authority. The mass arrests and serious injuries inflicted upon striking miners at Orgreave in 1984, and the subsequent police cover-up, are no aberration: they are the logical culmination of an institution designed to defend the capitalist status quo. As Farrell Dobbs acutely put it in Teamster Rebellion (1972), his iconic account of the 1934 Minneapolis general strike:

‘Under capitalism the main police function is to break strikes and to repress other forms of protest against the policies of the ruling class. Any civic usefulness other forms of police activity may have, like controlling traffic and summoning ambulances, is strictly incidental to the primary repressive function. Personal inclinations of individual cops do not alter this basic role of the police. All must comply with ruling-class dictates. As a result, police repression becomes one of the most naked forms through which capitalism subordinates human rights to the demands of private property. If the cops sometimes falter in their antisocial tasks, it is simply because they—like the guns they use—are subject to rust when not engaged in the deadly function for which they are primarily trained.’

I therefore urge students’ unions and local trade union branches to pass motions in solidarity with victimised activists. Like this one passed by Leeds UCU in 2014, such motions should affirm freedom of speech and freedom of assembly on campus, and explicitly connect the institutional curtailing of these freedoms to the marketisation of education. Moreover, both kinds of union should demand that police not be allowed on campus without their permission. If we are fighting for ‘free, democratic education’, then students and workers must be able to organise on campus without fear of violent state repression.

Likewise, if Labour truly is committed to upholding education as a public good, and providing a political voice for the student and labour movements, then it should seriously reconsider its uncritical characterisation of the police as simply another line of work in the public sector. No to ‘workers in uniform’! Cops off campus!

Summer Conference Announced!

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On the weekend of 8-10 June, NCAFC will be hosting our summer conference, We Are The University, at Sheffield students’ union.

The recent UCU strikes saw the biggest wave of student activism since 2010, with occupations taking place at 25 campuses. But while the strikes have been called off, the fight for free education, for workers’ rights and for democratic institutions is not. On the 50th anniversary of 1968 student revolt, now is the time for the left to come together – and to build a sustainable movement that can win the fight for a liberated education.

As always, access to the conference, food and accommodation is free. However, if you are struggling with transport costs, you can use our access fund. Please email [email protected] with your requirements and the finance committee will try to cover as much of your fees as possible.

The conference will officially start with registration opening at 12pm on Friday 8th June, and our first activity at 1pm. This will be followed by an informal social, with the main conference as usual taking place over Saturday and Sunday, with a variety of political and democratic events. A full agenda will be released shortly.

Motions can be proposed by affiliated local and political groups, or by any group of at least 7 individual NCAFC members, and must be submitted to [email protected] by 18:00 Wednesday 30th May. Please see here for a guide on how our democracy works.

Register for free here – and click attending on our Facebook event here, and invite anyone you think might be interested!

Students Stand in Solidarity with No Vote

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This letter was written and circulated by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), a coalition of students and workers dedicated to fighting fees, cuts, and privatisation in education.

Dear UCU members,

We are students who over the past month have witnessed the most extraordinary strike action the Higher Education sector has seen in years. We have stood with you on the picket lines because we understand that an attack on our staff is an attack on us: we see the struggle for fair pensions as part of the struggle against the marketisation of our universities, which is increasingly driving universities to behave like corporations, rather than the centres of knowledge and learning that they should be.

From the beginning of this dispute you consistently argued that ‘this is about more than pensions’; if this strike is won, students and staff will be in a much better position to roll back the marketisation of education, from an end to tuition fees, casualisation, the gender pay gap, and outsourcing, to the democratisation of our institutions. Together we have shown that #WeAreTheUniversity, that together workers and students run the show, and together if necessary we can shut it down: we have shaken higher education to the bone.

The recent four weeks of strike action have demonstrated the strength of student-staff solidarity, and the power of industrial action. Thousands have joined picket lines and demonstrations, many have organised teach-outs putting up talks and events challenging the boundaries of our current curriculums, and we have witnessed the biggest wave of student occupations (with a total of 24 across the country) since the 2010 student movement. On the 13th of March, the rank and file stood up to the UCU leadership and declared “#NoCapitulation” when UUK attempted to end the strike through a compromising, bogus proposal which simply pledged to delay the removal of defined benefits.

Today, you have received a ballot to vote on UUK’s most recent proposal. As it stands, this proposal is vague, offering few concrete guarantees. The USS pension scheme is in surplus, the deficit is fabricated, but this proposal could see UUK continuing to use the November valuation. We are disappointed that despite the majority of branches voting #ReviseAndResubmit, UCU leadership balloted this proposal. As #NoCapitulation demonstrated, a union is its grassroots members. While the proposal is a significant step forward from January, it is not the outcome you spent morning after morning shivering in the snow for.

We understand you have already lost 14 days of pay due to strike action, and we thank you for your sacrifice. Nevertheless we want to let you know that we continue to stand in full solidarity with you, and will continue lending our support if you reject this deal and go back to the picket lines after the holidays. We recognise that striking close to the exam period will put you under additional pressure, but students are conscious that UUK and university management is to blame for disruption. This strike action has already made significant gains, and we fear accepting UUK’s proposal would undermine the reason why the strikes started in the first place.

It’s not just students on your side. Your strength has given inspiration to the entire labour movement. You were the first to defeat the Tories’ ballot threshold with resounding, national action. Together you have clocked almost half a million total strike days, more than the rest of the UK combined over the last two years. You’ve received international solidarity from West Virginia, Germany, Delhi, and beyond. Furthermore, sister unions UNISON and EIS have announced a national ballot on the USS issue, while at the University of London, the IWGB is coordinating the biggest ever strike of outsourced workers in UK higher education history to coincide with USS strikes.

With the momentum growing and growing, now is not the time to accept an ambiguous proposal. This strike has changed everything. A different university is within our reach.  Now is the time to stretch our collective raised fist further and demand more. We express our full solidarity with the rank-and-file agitating for a ‘No’ vote and pledge to stand firmly beside you should industrial action continue.

Helena Navarrete Plana, Warwick For Free Education

Arthur Taylor, King’s College London

Ava Matheis, SOAS

Ky Andrea, Warwick For Free Education/ University of Warwick

Monty Shield, Alliance for Workers’ Liberty

Charlea Murphy, The University of Sheffield

Stan Laight, Sheffield Marxist Society

Jake Roberts, University of Surrey

Elliott O’Rourke, University of Sheffield

Jacob D Allen, University of Surrey

Alison Worden, Surrey University

Chris Townsend, The Free University of Sheffield

Jack Kershaw, UCL

Dominique Hua, UCL

Josh Chown, University of Surrey/Surrey Labour Students

Malcolm Lowe, University of Warwick

Dora Dimitrova, UCL Marxist Society

Alicia Shearsby, The University of Warwick/Warwick for Free Education

Stuart McMillan, Sheffield SU Education Officer, NCAFC NC

Rowan Davis, Oxford

Charlie Porter, Free University of Sheffield

Richard Somervail, UCL

Anika Heckwolf, University of Warwick

Thalia Cox, Warwick For Free Education

Malgosia Haman, The Free University of Sheffield

Jerome Cox-Strong, University of Reading

Ceri Bailey, Cardiff University

Cate Schofield, Cardiff University

Tassaneeya Robinson, Cardiff University

Siobhan Owen, University of Exeter

Alexander Lloyd, University of Sheffield

Felicity Adams, Keele University

Amin Lmoh, University of Warwick student staff solidarity

Hemal Gangani, University of Bath

Ana Oppenheim, NUS NEC

Patricia McManus, University of Brighton

Sam Burgum, University of Sheffield

David B, Warwick

Lauren Kennedy, De Montfort University

Andrea Aakre, #OccupyTheOctagon (QMUL)

Lughaidh Scully, Aberdeen Students Support the Strike / Aberdeen Student Left

Martin Leonard, University of York

Edward Williamson, Free University of Sheffield

Julie Saumagne, University of Warwick

Vijay Jackson, USS Occupation Edinburgh

Harry Vinall-Smeeth, Oxford

Aristidis Shukuroglou, University of Reading Marxist Society

George Briley, University of London, Goldsmiths

Emil-Dorian McHale, University of Reading Marxist Society

Jacob Elliman, University of Reading Marxist Society

Catherine Joanne McClane, University of Reading Marxist Society

Matthew Lee, UCL / UCL Cut The Rent / UCL Fund Our Mental Health Services / UoL Justice for Workers / UCL Free Education

Georgina Ryan, The Free University of Sheffield

Nick McAlpin, Exeter Students 4 UCU Strikes

Tyrone Falls, University of Bristol

Cam Galloway, The Free University of Sheffield

Hanin Abou Salem, Cardiff University

Mohammed Bux, University of Sheffield

Samar, Bristol University

Sam Walker, Manchester Plan C

Richard Somervail, UCL

Alice Wright, KCL

Dina Rider, Queen Mary University of London

Martin Young, QMUL

Robin Boardman, University of Bristol

Nathan Wiliams, University of Manchester/Save our Staff Manchester campaign

Ramona Kuh, Queen Mary University

Jasmin Bath, QMUL

Laura Barroso, SOAS

Prarthana Krishnan, Bristol Student-Staff Solidarity Group

Lily Baker, Queen Mary University London

Clementine, Bath Uni / Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts

Anna Klieber, University of Bristol/ Bristol Student Staff Solidarity Group

Marlowe MacDonald, University of Sheffield

Abby King, Royal Holloway

Luke Tyers, University of Bristol/Bristol Student-Staff Solidarity Group

Kerry Lambeth, QMUL

Filippo Iorillo, Queen Mary University of London

Molly Wilson, University of Warwick

Conor Shail, University of Bristol

Jack Shaw, Warwick Marxists

Lewis Williams, QMUL/Occupy the Octagon

Diego Millán Berdasco, Queen Mary University of London

Ursula Shaw, Cambridge

Pascal Salzbrenner, Marxist Society, King’s College London

Ian Cameron, The Open University

Alexander Simpson, Occupy Surrey 2018

Alexander Wilkinson, QMUL

Kendra Howard, Queen Mary University of London

Lois Davies, Bristol University/ BSSSG

Aiysha N Soddie, Queen Mary, University of London

Juvan Gowreeswaran, Marxist Student Federation (Warwick branch)

Paulina, Cardiff University

James Roberts, Free University of Sheffield

Tom Keene, Goldsmiths University of London

Ted Lavis Coward, Durham University

David Bullock, Durham University/NCAFC

Ellen Adamson, Queen Mary University of London

Eva Marcela Ponce de León Marquina, Institute of Education (UCL)

Josh Berlyne, Free University of Sheffield

Jessica, Bath students Against Fees and Cuts

Archie Mellor, BSAFC

Bonnie Carter, Bristol university

Piers Eaton, Durham Student-Staff Solidarity

Ada Wordsworth, UCL

Bradley Allsop, University of Lincoln student/UCU member

Jazmine Bourke, Durham University

Jonathan Murden, Durham University/Durham Left Activists

Zeid Truscott, Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts

Beth Douglas, NUS LGBT+

Lewis Jarrad, UCL

Rafaelle Benichou, Warwick University

Lewis Macleod, Aberdeen Students Support the Strike / Aberdeen SA

Aysha Khatun, University of Warwick

Chris Knutsen, Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts

Beckie Rutherford, University of Warwick

Jemima Hindmarch, QMUL

Kierin Offlands, Lewisham Young Labour

Niamh Ashton, University of Leicester

Rebecca Harrington, Oxford Brookes Student Union

Hansika Jethnani, Arts SU

Del Pickup, University of Sheffield

Nadia Sayed, Queen Mary Student + QM Socialist Worker Student Society

Mie Astrup Jensen, Aberdeen Students Support the Strike

Dan Davison, University of Cambridge

XingJian Li, SOAS

Ash Edwards, Queen Mary University of London

Siôn Davies, QMUL / #OccupyTheOctagon

Lisa Taylor, King’s College London

Simona Alexandra, King’s College London

Cecy Marden, University of Sheffield

Mark Crawford, Students’ Union UCL

Rebecca Larney, KCL

Harper Stephens, The Free University of Sheffield

Nicolás Navarro Padrón, SOAS // SOAS Marxist Society

Thomas Evans, King’s College London

Konstantina Melina Lourou Terzaki, King’s College London

Savannah Whaley, KCL

Sam Walton, University of Reading

Joe Attard, King’s College London

Sainab Nuh, King’s College London

Harvi Chera, University College London

Yasmin Huleileh, Warwick University

Ramona Sharples, King’s College London Occupation

Jacob Shackleton, Warwick University

Thushan Rajendram, King’s College London

Adam S. Jarvis, Warwick University

Tom Bolitho, King’s College London

Sean Benstead, Leeds Independent Socialists

Amy Norris, King’s College London

Megan Beech, University of Cambridge

George Craddock, Queen Mary Labour Society

Declan Burns, University of Nottingham

Nick Oung, UCL/Socialist Appeal

Sarah Combes, King’s College London

Khaled Eissa, Kings College

Jennifer Jackson, King’s College London

Elizabeth Collins, University of Southampton

Aaron Kwadwo Kyereh-Mireku, University of Warwick/Warwick Marxists

Polly Creed, University College London/ Power Play Activists

Mike Shaw, Edinburgh

Sofia Doyle, Bristol Staff Student Solidarity

Eve Bent, Salford University

Thea Smith, University of Bath

Eleanor Webb, University of Warwick

Harriet Carroll, University of Bath

Jordan Smith, QM Young Greens

Sam Bough, University of Kent – Canterbury

Thahmina Begum, Queen Mary University

Chelsea Thompson, University of Aberdeen

Jill L Crawford, UEA

Kelli Conley, University of Edinburgh

Ellinore Folkesson, Glasgow University Student Solidarity

Matthias Bryson, University of Edinburgh

Joanna Smith, University of Edinburgh

Grace, University of Edinburgh

Katherine Butterfield, Queen Mary university

Lorenzo Feltrin, University of Warwick

Amethyst Di Tieri, University of Edinburgh

Viktor Kardell, Glasgow University

Savannah Wood, University of Edinburgh

Alice Galatola, Newcastle University

Rory Kent, Cambridge Defend Education

Sean Currie, University of Strathclyde

Carlus Hudson, University of Portsmouth

Euan Ferguson, University of Edinburgh

Emily Donnelly, University of Edinburgh

Molly, University of Keele

Oresta Muckute, University of Reading

Matthew Gibson, Durham University

Neve Ovenden, Durham Student-Staff Solidarity

Elaena Elizabeth Shipp, Bangor University and Gwyrddion Ifanc Bangor Young Greens

James Crosse, Queen Mary University of London

Bohdan Starosta, Strathclyde Students Support the Strike

Chelsea Lowdon, Durham University/ Durham Student-Staff Solidarity

Carolin Zieringer, Goldsmiths

Artur Wilk, Leicester Student Action

Perry MEsney, Cardiff University

Anne Løddesøl, University of Edinburgh

Jamie, Newcastle Student-Staff Solidarity

Dylan Woodward, Bristol Uni

Niamh Sherlock, Leicester Student Action

Jess Taylor Weisser, Newcastle University

Ben Margolis, Cambridge/CDE

José Figueira, Newcastle University

Kayleigh Colbourn, Royal Holloway University of London

Anthony Sanderson, UEA

Matthew Sears, Durham University

Alexander Pool, Durham

Gwilym Evans, University of Sheffield

Eleanor Cawte, Cambridge University

Eleri Fowler, University of Edinburgh

Jennie Layden, Newcastle University

Holly Carter-Rich, University of Manchester

Isabel del Pilar Arce Zelada, Students Support the Strike Aberdeen

Emily Moore, University of Sussex

Doha Abdelgawad, Department of Political Science and International Relations.

Jack Mansell, Sydney University Education Action Group

Rory McKinley, Durham University

Amelia Talbot, Uni of Leicester

Abi Cooper, Durham University

Annie Jones, University of Manchester/UCU/PhD Student

Woody Phillips-Smith, University of Warwick

Howard Chae, University of Cambridge

Niamh MacPhail, University of Glasgow

William Campbell, University of aberdeen

Joseph Jorgensen, University of Manchester

Talia Reed, Bangor University

Pablo Charro de la Fuente, Business School

Herbie Hyndley, University of Birmingham

Mark Lawrence, Durham

Nomar Syking, Falmouth University

Tihana Vlaisavljevic, Queens University Belfast

Matthew Vaughan, University of Liverpool

Declan McLean, University of Strathclyde/Strathclyde University Labour Club

Lucy, University of Hull

Sara Pernille Jensen, University of Bristol

Scott Seton, University of Essex

Alex Kumar, Oxford SU

Scott lumsden, University of Glasgow

Conor Muller, University of York / University of York Labour

Aleph Ross, University of Cambridge

Ayse, Cardiff University

Declan Downey, The Free University of Sheffield

Nickolas Tang, King’s College London

Finn Weldin, University of Kent

Joseph Evans, University of Cambridge

Sophie Neibig, SOS Manchester / Uni of Manchester

Priyanka Moorjani, KCL

Warren Gratton, University of Surrey

Alexandra Briggs, University of Edinburgh

Rachel, Save Our Staff MCR

Eleonora Colli, King’s College London

Adam Jones, UCL

Heather McKnight, University of Sussex

Guy Forsyth, Durham Student-Staff Solidarity Group

Mr J H Lees, Leicester university

Amelia, Newcastle

Susie Gray, Cardiff University

Yvonni Gkergkes, University of Edinburgh

Kathryn Blagg, University of Sheffield

Charmaine Mandivenga, Queen Mary

Danielle Wright, University of Sheffield

Zack Murrell-Dowson, Bristol University/ Bristol Student Staff Solidarity Group

Max Riley, University of Reading Students Union

George Bunn, University of Sheffield

PRESS RELEASE: Student leader threatened with dismissal for protesting gentrification

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–  Student union management attempts to sack officer elected by students following political activity against university

–  Campaigners claim students’ union managers “complicit in shutting down dissent” over redevelopment plan.

–  SU officer Sahaya James sits on Momentum’s ruling National Coordinating Group, and is running to be the next NUS President.

–  Sahaya James, Campaigns Officer at the University of the Arts London (UAL) Students’ Union (Arts SU) is being threatened with dismissal after leading an occupation against UAL’s complicity in the gentrification in Elephant and Castle.  

Sahaya James, who is running to be president of the National Union of Students and sits on Momentum’s ruling National Coordinating Group, has been summoned to an extraordinary meeting of the union’s trustee board, which will take place next week, to discuss a ‘motion of no confidence’. The move comes after UAL has begun disciplinary procedures and prevented her from going into university buildings. James was instructed by the union to keep the threat of dismissal secret, but has now gone public.  

The timing of the disciplinaries are widely viewed as a response to a student-led occupation earlier this month at UAL’s London College of Communication (LCC) campus in Elephant and Castle against a redevelopment plan that would replace the shopping centre with an expanded LCC campus alongside luxury flats and shops. Originally just 3% of the 1,000 new homes would be genuinely affordable, and the plan has since been paused by the council.

A student at UAL Lizzy Deacon said: “I cannot believe this. It seems that my own elected officer is facing being sacked for supporting students protesting against the university. Is my student union complicit in shutting down dissent on a campaign that clearly has the support of students and the wider community? This is wrong and unfair on us students as well as the officer.”

Ana Oppenheim, NUS National Executive, said “Sahaya’s role in campaigning against gentrification has been passionate and crucial. It’s all too clear that the students’ union is clamping down on students’ right to protest. This is extremely concerning. Officers are accountable to students, and any attempt to remove them should be done through democratic structures.”

Shelly Asquith, former Chair of Arts SU Board of Trustees, said: “The power to remove an elected union rep from office should lie with those who put them there: the students. It should not be conducted behind closed doors by the University or a handful of Trustees. I am alarmed that this proposal, timed so closely to the NUS elections, would deem Sahaya ineligible to stand for national office.”

Sahaya James said: “The past few weeks have been difficult and upsetting, but I am proud of the success we have had in pushing back the redevelopment plans at Elephant and Castle and I am determined to continue to serve the UAL student body. I have been instructed to keep the disciplinary process secret, but I believe that the students who elected me have the right to know what is happening.”

ENDS

NOTES

  1. For press or more info contact Charlie Macnamara 07508 041168 or Andy Warren 07752 640847
  2. Arts SU is the union for students at the University of the Arts London, representing 20,000 students.
  3. Sahaya James is the Campaigns Officer at Arts SU. She was elected by a ballot of all students in February 2017 and is running for President of the National Union of Students at NUS conference in March. She also sits on Momentum’s ruling National Coordinating Group.
  4. James was formally made aware of the motion of no confidence on 22nd February. An extraordinary meeting of the Trustee Board of Arts SU will take place next week. This is in addition to the university preventing her from accessing university buildings and facing a disciplinary process from the institution.
  5. News coverage of the Elephant and Castle occupation can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 4. A Guardian opinion piece by James herself can be found here, as well as an Independent article here.

 

A Brief Guide to University Occupations

occupied

Lots of students across the UK are shortly going to be launching occupations and sit-in protests in order to maximise the impact of the UCU strike, and build support for broader demands about justice in the UK education system.

If you’re one of them, or if you’re thinking about being one of them – hello! NCAFC have thrown together this guide as a check-list of things to think about before you occupy.

1) Making the decision
The first step is to have a discussion with people around you about having the occupation. This might seem obvious, but it is important that most people support the occupation and its aims. At this stage you want to make the decision about whether to occupy overnight, what your demands or the general political aims of the action are, and what you hope to achieve.

Work in concentric circles, rippling outward, including more people each time. Get a few people together who are up for it. That small group should get together everyone they know who might be up for it. And then that larger group should call everyone they know… and so on. Work rapidly and aim to launch within a week once this process begins. Don’t give things time to fizzle out. Be decisive; encourage those around you to be bold.

It is OK if not everyone is persuaded at once: but you need people to understand what they are doing and why. If your occupation isn’t democratic, it’ll fall apart at the first difficulty.

2) Why are you doing it?
Some occupations are serious long-term show-downs with management: you take over an important target whose occupation will call real disruption (like a management office, say) and stay there until the Vice Chancellor surrenders.

Other occupations are more about using the disruptive and spectacular power of an occupation to get everyone’s attention, get people talking about your demands, and change the atmosphere on campus, leaving while you are still fresh.

Decide what you want to do before you go in – and prepare yourselves accordingly. Might you wind up being dragged out by security? Will your studies take a back seat for several weeks? Or will you be back in lectures by Monday? Within sensible limits (don’t tell anyone who you think might tell on you!) people need to know what they are getting themselves in for.

3) Where to occupy?
Choose a location to suit your objectives. Are you going to choose a really disruptive and heavily-fortified place to occupy; or a very visible location with lots of windows and access points? Has your university splurged stupid money on a flashy conference centre that is no use to staff or students?

There are some non-negotiable things that you need in an occupation. Don’t occupy anywhere without these things:

a) It needs to be safe to sleep in. Rooftops are not a good idea for overnight stays.
b) You need a toilet. You, gallant reader, might be ready to shit into a carrier bag for the cause; but sadly most students are not. Make sure you’ve got enough loo roll and hand sanitiser gel.
c) Wi-fi and/or phone signal. If an occupation happens and you can’t tweet about it, has it really happened?
d) Windows or balconies. People need to be able to see you! Also, on day 3 you’ll be glad of the natural light.

Look at the venue beforehand. Look at the doors and ask yourself: will we need to lock them shut? How can we do that? What are the access points; how many toilets are there, where will we get tapwater from? Is it easy for people to find?

4) Springing the occupation
If you have a strong and motivated group, you will be able to simply storm the target location: all turn up in the management corridor or Presitigious Conference Centre, lock the doors shut, sit down, and issue your demands online. But that requires secretly organising a big-ish team to converge at the right time and place, or leading a rally or demonstration indoors “by surprise”. You can’t very well set up a Facebook event advertising the time and place of the sit-in, or the building will be locked down.

Another method is to call a public meeting in the room you intend to occupy (or nearby) and launch your occupation at an appropriate moment in the proceedings, by having the chair explain the plan and asking the meeting to approve it.

The start of an occupation is normally pandemonium. That’s OK – don’t stress over a little chaos – but try to get things under control. Make sure that people have jobs to do, so that people can get active right away. As soon as you are securely in the space and you’re not about to be run out of the building, hold a meeting to endorse your demands and establish a division of labour.

What kind of things need doing?
a) Security – post a watch on all the doors and make a rota through the night
b) Food, water, hygeine – sort out a clean food preparation area, a clean method of distributing tap water, and make sure that the loos are clean, accessible and well-stocked.
c) Online propaganda – let everyone know where you are! Set up a blog and social media accounts for your occupation. Post on them regularly – your demands; practical information and requests for help; political statements like messages of support from the local trade unions or other occupations; videos of people having fun in the occupation (security considerations permitting); and memes.
d) Turning the occupation inside out (see below)
e) Organised fun: show films, provide board games – you’ve got a big group of people living crammed together in an uncomfortable space. Do things to keep people happy and relaxed.

5) Security and repression
You are not likely to be expelled, disciplined, arrested or beaten up for occupying.

Since 2008, thousands of students have taken part in dozens of occupations in the UK. In that period, very small numbers of students have been taken through disciplinary cases or suspended. Small numbers have been arrested. To our knowledge, perhaps half a dozen people have been expelled, in exceptional circumstances. At some campuses the police have been called to clear buildings out (Sussex Uni in 2010; Senate House, London 2013; Birmingham University 2014; Warwick Uni in 2014) – but while serious, these are rare incidents in a decade that has seen many, many sit-ins.
All the same, it is important not to take silly risks. Don’t brawl with security guards, damage buildings, light fires, smoke, drink booze, or take drugs in an occupation. Be careful about revealing occupiers’ names to university management. Observe a sensible level of secrecy when preparing.

If any of your people are victimised: fight back! Support them through disciplinary procedures, tell the world what the university is doing, organise anti-victimisation protests and petitions. Contact alumni (universities care about their image amongst alumni, who are a source of money). Contact NCAFC for advice on how to proceed: we have been involved in fighting victimisations of student activists since 2010.

Security guards need to be treated with respect. University security staff or porters are workers like any others. In London, university security guards have been going on strike and facing up to management bullying. Do not fight them or insult them.

They will try to obstruct you, because that is a condition of their employment. They will be worried that if they just let you have your way, they will get in trouble.

The best way to overcome security is to be numerous, quick and well-organised. Try to move decisively and in overwhelming numbers. Security know that if they are deployed on their own or in a small group, they will not be sacked for failing to thwart a group of many dozens of students. Keep an eye on them, and let them know that they might be being filmed, as this will discourage any “unprofessional behaviour” from the odd Rambo type. But in general you need to reduce, not increase, confrontation and tension with university security.

Likewise, the use of police as storm troopers to flush you out with gas and batons is, while not unknown, extremely rare. If the university tells you that the cops are on their way, remain calm. They are doing it to freak you out. Take sensible precautions: but the likelihood is that two bored coppers will turn up, tell you that the occupation is none of their business, and take off again.
Bring bicycle locks and ropes.

6) Turn the occupation inside out!
The most successful occupations are not barricaded-off fortifications. They are present across the whole campus and local community. Lots of local activists and ordinary students, staff and residents pass through, talk to the occupiers, find out about the message, and tell their friends. During the occupation, the campus should be alive with your message. Teams should be out doorknocking, postering and leafleting every day, and attractive events should be advertised throughout the day, to keep bringing new people in and developing the political education of the people inside.

It is possible that the security situation will be such that you don’t have easy control of access: if getting in and out is hard, then you’ll need a dedicated organisation on the outside in constant communication with the people inside. Plan for this. And be creative about solving access problems.

– Have an “outside” working group – they should organise people to knock on doors, chalk slogans, leaflet and poster. That will need a lot of printing, every morning. Plan how and where to do it!
– Set up a rota of attractive talks and activities every day. Plan it several days in advance.
– Get in touch with the local trade unions and the left. Invite them to come and speak. Have them bring their banners!
– Set up visual displays inside the occupation, or plastered to the windows if access is a problem.
– Make the occupation look good from the outside; and make it clear what you are there for.
– Launch sorties: do banner drops in as many different locations as you can, as often as you can; stage little noise demos away from the occupation. Be present everywhere!
– When you need to get numbers up, have everyone drop what they are doing and hit the phones. Organise a mass call-round.

7) Learn when to let go
Some people want to call the occupation off at the first sign of trouble, or after a few nights of sleep deprivation. Others go the other way: they’ve been through a lot, carried only by a feeling of determination and political will. Isn’t it a betrayal to call off the occupation? People with that mindset will resist leaving, under any circumstances.

It is not good to keep an occupation going when your numbers are very depleted and the participants are exhausted. Small groups get victimised. Very tired people make mistakes or get ill. But at the same time, in a long show-down with management, the moment when you are most exhausted is also probably the time when their patience is at its end and they’re ready to make a concession.

Try to make a dispassionate judgement about when to call off an occupation. Remember your original objectives: is it an up-down fight, or are you there to raise awareness? Is your activist group getting stronger by the day, or weaker? How are numbers holding up?

When the time has come to get out, don’t dither, but prepare your exit. Call one last big demonstration so that when you step out blinking into the sun, you get a big cheer. Don’t scuttle off in the night. Release a statement and call a follow-up event. Write down what you have learned and contact the NCAFC: if you feel up to it, we’ll help you take your message to other campuses about how you did what you did. If you need experienced activists to talk to about rallying your group after an exhausting effort, or resisting victimisations, we will help.

Boycott the NSS: Winning the Arguments

boycott the nss to stop the HE reforms

This is a toolkit for SU officers and student activists who are currently running or thinking about running NSS boycott campaigns. Hopefully, it will help you win the arguments on your campus. Please share it widely and get in touch in NCAFC if you have any other questions!

Some links

Why boycott?

The NSS is one of the key metrics used in the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), a scheme of ranking universities Gold, Silver or Bronze according to extremely flawed criteria. The TEF is central to a set of recent reforms designed to turn universities into businesses and students into consumers, putting profit before education. It is also linked to fee increases: the idea behind the framework was that the top scoring universities would be allowed to become more expensive than those with lower scores. In 2016, NUS passed policy to boycott the survey until the recent higher education reforms are withdrawn.

But hasn’t the government promised to freeze tuition fees?

In short, the Tories’ policy on higher education is currently a complete mess. Last October, Theresa May’s announcement that tuition fees would be frozen at £9,250 and not go up with inflation took many people by surprise. This included the education secretary and the universities minister, who were not consulted over the idea. May’s speech was followed by speculation across the sector. Is the freeze for one year or more? What does this mean for the TEF? None of this was ever clarified. May also vaguely mentioned that the Tories were working on a review of HE funding, whatever that means. In the summer, the idea was also floated that low-scoring universities could be forced to cut fees (without replacing the income with public funding), which would mean even more campus cuts and even more underperforming institutions losing resources. There has been no guarantee that fees will stay frozen or be delinked from the TEF. There’s clearly an appetite amongst government figures to introduce differential fees and the TEF is a tool which will allow them to do so. Let’s not trust them.

It’s also important to remember that the NSS boycott is about much more than just fees. It is about resisting marketisation in higher education. Even if fees don’t go up, the TEF and marketisation will have a harmful effect on students, staff, and education.

What’s wrong with marketisation?

Marketisation isn’t just an abstract concept and a buzzword thrown around by student lefties. It has real-life consequences. When universities are forced to compete with one another for income and places in nonsensical league tables, they save money on staff and student services, and cut courses that don’t bring in enough cash. They invest in marketing and spend millions on shiny buildings that look good in a prospectus, but don’t actually improve education.

The TEF is already leading to job cuts and course closures, as universities jump through hoops to score highly in the metrics without regard for students or workers. To give just one example, the University of Manchester cited changes in HE policy when they announced cuts to hundreds of staff.

We need to fight back or your tutors could be next.

Hasn’t the NSS been removed as a TEF metric?

No. Some changes to the TEF have indeed been introduced as a result of the boycott: the weighting of NSS has been halved and institutions affected by the campaign are allowed to participate in the TEF without NSS data, if they can prove that students took part in the boycott. However, the NSS is still a TEF metric and an important tool in the Tory marketisation agenda. The rhetoric of “student feedback” and “student choice” was used to legitimise the implementation of these reforms in the first place. The more students withdraw their feedback, the stronger our voice against them.

The recent changes to the TEF were only introduced to put students off boycotting. They show that the government is scared and that the boycott is working.

Will boycotting the NSS negatively affect my SU?

Universities use all kinds of dodgy tactics to stop unions from boycotting the NSS, from intimidating officers to threatening to cut funding. However, as far as we know, none of the unions that took part in last year’s boycott were actually penalised. If management threatens your SU with cuts, the best thing to do is go public about it. The university has no interest in cutting funding that is spent on your baking society or rugby club – can you imagine how many people that would piss off if they found out?

Sometimes every SU will have to make decisions the university doesn’t like – this is the whole point of unions being independent, rather than just another department of the university. Universities trying to regulate what SUs can and cannot campaign on is a free speech issue, and NUS NEC passed policy to defend by any means necessary SUs’ right to boycott.

Some officers are worried that taking part in the boycott will damage their relationship with the university. However, it is naive to think that university management will do anything that benefits students just because they are personally friendly with a 20-year-old who won a sabb election. Moreover, if a sabbatical officer drops a campaign that is in the interest of students just to preserve their “good relationship” with the university, then they are not doing their job well and need to be held to account.

Will boycotting the NSS negatively impact my course/institution?

No. Both NUS and the academic staff union UCU have policy to support the boycott. (Your lecturers are most likely asking you to fill in the NSS not because they care about the survey, but because the university is making them promote it.) The boycott is a national campaign of which both the university and the government are aware. Low response rates will not be used against individual institutions.

Some courses, like this one, have released public statements and contacted the university to tell them they are boycotting the NSS, and that low response rates should not be used against staff. Do the same.

However, what almost certainly will negatively affect your institution is the TEF. If it scores Gold, then it will become more elitist and possibly more expensive. If it scores Bronze, then it will risk losing its reputation and funding, and having to make cuts. It’s a lose-lose situation, so maybe it’s better just not to fill out that bloody survey.

But i want to give feedback!

There are many ways to give feedback on your course. You can use the course rep system and unit evaluations, email your tutor or department directly, and get involved in your students’ union to launch campaigns that are more likely to achieve meaningful change. Most students get constantly bombarded by surveys from their university – do you really want to fill out yet another one?

The NSS reduces your “feedback” to a simplistic 1-5 scale, which provides no meaningful information to universities. Many in the sector acknowledge that NSS scores are basically junk data: even the Royal Statistical Society has spoken out against the survey’s fundamental flaws. What’s more, studies have shown that, due to unconscious bias, courses with women and BME academics tend to get lower scores. This is especially worrying because NSS results are often used to victimise staff.

Do boycotts work?

This is not an individualistic consumer boycott. It is a collective action endorsed by the National Union of Students and a number of students’ unions across the country. In many ways, it is more like a strike. Universities rely on the NSS as part of the machinery driving their profit-making agenda and we as students power the NSS. If we stop filling in the NSS, then the machinery grinds to a halt and their plans are disrupted.

The boycott itself is not enough to stop and overturn the government’s reforms. This is why NCAFC and activists who work with us have been organising local and national demonstrations. Likewise, we have held discussions and rallies on campuses, written articles in the press, and influenced the debate on higher education policy in a number of other ways. However, the NSS is the only metric in the TEF over which we have direct control and disrupting it gives us leverage.

Last year, the boycott engaged tens of thousands of students. It was probably the most widely reported NUS campaign in the media and was mentioned during Parliamentary debates. It led to the government having to announce a fee freeze, hoping it would put us off boycotting and campaigning. It hasn’t.

Time and time again, history has shown that collective action works. However, if you think your actions won’t change anything, why would filling in the NSS do anything for you? You are only asked *not* to do something. Spend those 20-odd minutes of your life doing anything else: make yourself a cup of tea, paint your nails, call your mum. Don’t spend them providing free labour to the Tories to drive their marketisation agenda.

 

Our Behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure

ncafc logo square neat bigFollowing discussion of sexual violence on the left, NCAFC is re-highlighting our Behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure, which is available on the website here: anticuts.com/behaviour-complaints. We have regularly spoken about and re-evaluated our policy to best prevent and deal with harassment and abuse, and welcome any feedback on it.

Let’s make sure the OFS doesn’t see another New Year’s Day

toby young

By Rory Hughes 

On New Year’s Day the new ‘Office for Students’ (OFS) came into existence. This new body will be in charge of both funding and regulating the HE sector and is a composition of multiple other QUANGOs such as HEFCE and OFFA with some additional powers and responsibilities. The OFS is Jo Johnson MP’s pet project and is designed to impose ‘market forces’ and competition on the HE sector and make sure universities are ‘delivering value for money’ to students. The governing board of the OFS tells you everything you need to know and more about the accelerating dangers this government poses to Higher Education.

The most high-profile appointment to the governing board is that of Toby Young. Let’s be clear, Toby Young is a Tory bigot and was appointed to sit on the board of the OFS to be a Tory bigot. In his other work however, Young established the first ever (and repeatedly failing) ‘Free School’ in the UK and heads up the national network of these pet projects ‘delivering parent choice’ and sucking state funding away from comprehensives. He has called working class students “universally unattractive”, “small, vaguely deformed undergraduates” and ‘stains’. He has called students with disabilities “functionally illiterate troglodyte’s” and moaned about calls for ‘inclusion’ and wheelchair access in schools. He also believes that Oxbridge bears no responsibility for its racist admissions policy. Whilst Young’s selection is particularly vile it has unfortunately diverted scrutiny from the other members of the board which more fully illustrate the purpose of the OFS.

The chair of the OFS is Michael Barber an ‘educationist’ who headed up New Labour’s education reforms before jumping ship to lead a variety of global private education companies and trusts. Barber was also a key architect of the Browne Review in 2010 that formulated the basis for the introduction of 9k fees and further marketisation. He has a long track record of imposing neoliberal reforms onto education systems and his approach to HE will be no different. In his own words, “The world is going to change dramatically in the next five to 10 years. School systems will have to innovate, and innovation will come from the private sector or public-private partnerships, rather than government.”

Joining Barber on the board are a range of corporates including:

Gurpreet Dehal – who “has over 25 years of leadership, strategic planning and financial experience gained mainly at major investment banks”

Katja Hall – a partner at Chairman Mentors International, previously she was Group Head of External Affairs and Sustainability at HSBC

Simon Levine – Managing Partner and Co-Global Chief Executive Officer of the global law firm, DLA Piper.

Elizabeth Fagan – Senior Vice President, Managing Director of Boots.

What this ragtag bunch of bankers, consultants and the director of a tax-avoiding conglomerate know about the experience of students and staff on the ground is beyond any of us. They will be accompanied by some high-flying right-wing education ideologues including Carl Lygo who was the founding vice-chancellor of BPP University – a private, for-profit institution now owned by an American Private Equity Fund.

The OFS is just another in a long line of arm’s length government bodies designed to impose marketisation and privatisation on our public services. When the government wanted to accelerate privatisation of the NHS they created ‘NHS England’ and stuffed its governing board full of the same types of corporates and ideologues as the OFS.

Most worryingly however is the fact that our NUS leadership have spent months sucking up to government ministers and HE leaders, ‘being respectable’, ‘gaining access to the corridors of power’, ‘getting a seat at the decision-making table’ only to be snubbed by the government and failing to gain a powerless seat at an unpleasant table. The NUS has been side-lined in favour of a single random student from Surrey University who now represents all students on the board of the OFS. This is what happens when the student movement lobbies for scraps instead of fighting for what is right. We as student activists, the NUS and the Labour Party must re-start the national movement for a truly Free, Liberated and Accessible education system governed democratically by staff, students and the public. It is up to us to make sure that the OFS won’t see another New Year’s Day.

NCAFC WINTER CONFERENCE: POLICY PASSED

winter conf cover

SECTION 1: POLITICS AND CAMPAIGNING

1) Free education and trans liberation

Proposed by: Luke Dukinfield, Jess Bradley, Hope Worsdale, Sara Khan, Helena Navarrete Plana, Jamie Sims, Clementine Boucher, Ana Oppenheim, Ky Hall, Uma Kotwal, Anabel Bennett-López, Stuart McMillan, Josh Berlyne, Monty Shield, Sahaya James, Hansika Jethnani, Maisie Sanders, Chris Townsend
NCAFC Notes:

  1. Trans people suffer widespread prejudice and oppression within education and broader society, lacking fundamental civil rights and legal protections; experiencing discrimination in housing, healthcare, employment, prisons, etc; and suffering disproportionate and intense levels of harassment, abuse and violence.
  2. The proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) have catalysed a reactionary, transphobic backlash within the media and society, incurring a moral panic reminiscent of that around Section 28, in which trans people have been viciously derided, disparaged, and vilified.
  3. In the context of other political trends, such as prolonged austerity, Brexit and the rise of the far-right, trans people and our rights – despite positive progress – are increasingly at risk and vulnerable. This is epitomized in the astronomical and deeply concerning rates of suicide in trans communities, and especially of trans youth.
  4. NCAFC has contributed significantly to the development of a vision of, and a struggle for, free education that does not merely agitate for the abolition of fees but a fundamentally transformed education system and society liberated from prejudice and oppression.
  5. This vision of a ‘liberated’ education is best epitomized by the various activities and campaigns engaged in by the NCAFC ‘women and non-binary’ caucus, not only embedding feminist activism within the struggle for free education, but fundamentally emphasising that free education is a gendered demand, which would therefore most benefit those marginalized on the basis of their gender.
  6. The inclusion of ‘non-binary’ individuals into the formerly only ‘women’ caucus is a result of the efforts of trans activists within NCAFC, and signalled a positive progression in bringing ideas about trans politics into the fold of the organization.
  7. Conversations and campaigns specifically around transphobia have been largely absent from conferences, NCAFC’s social media and website archive, and organizational actions – being largely confined to small, rare and informal sessions with exploration of these issues not filtering out to the broader organization.

NCAFC believes:

  1. Now more than ever we must assert our unconditional support and solidarity for the struggle for trans liberation, recognizing the urgency and gravity of this struggle in a context of widespread stigma and violence.
  2. The proposed changes to the GRA have been cynically misinterpreted and disingenuously weaponized by Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs), progressives and reactionaries alike to entrench some of the most pernicious tropes and stereotypes about trans people.  We resist the dominant trend to pit women’s and trans rights against one another – we recognize this division is artificial, especially detrimental to trans women, and that we cannot achieve emancipation of any community without emancipation for all our communities.
  3. The educational system promotes institutional transphobia at every level through such processes as: academic/curricular erasure, institutional exclusion, lack of gender-neutral facilities, employment discrimination, cuts to health, support and welfare services, lack of investment in specialist training for staff and health professionals, monitoring and registering practices, cuts to financial support, bullying, harassment and violence, community disempowerment through managerial and corporate power grabs, etc.
  4. NCAFC is, with its historical legacy of fighting for a materialist vision of liberation in education and beyond, well-equipped and well-situated to develop conversations and horizons around the struggle for trans liberation.
  5. The conceptualization of our vision for free education has not adequately incorporated an understanding of the nuances of institutional transphobia, an assertion of demands for trans liberation, and an inward and outward commitment to combatting transphobia.
  6. The understanding of free education as a gendered demand, and the liberatory potential of free education more broadly, cannot be complete without attending to and contesting the oppression trans students and workers suffer within the education system.
  7. It is taken as a given within the student movement that transphobia is fully understood and confronted – however within both NCAFC and the movement more broadly, the specifics of this conversation are underdeveloped. Our limited understanding of the specific histories and dynamics of transphobia within education and society at large entail both a lack of outward commitment to trans liberation, and also a lack of internal organizational processes to recognize and usefully tackle transphobia when it occurs. This must change, and is a task not just for a caucus but the responsibility of the whole organization.
  8. Free education and trans liberation mean a commitment to fighting the broader social inequities and oppressions that materially devastate trans people’s lives. Abusive medical practices, police and prison violence, and widespread homelessness are examples of broader issues affecting vulnerable and poor trans people’s lives, particularly those of colour, that must be linked up with educational activism as sites of struggle.

NCAFC Resolves:

  1. To make our commitment to trans liberation clear through statements of solidarity, articles exploring the issues, and building trans blocks on demonstrations, etc.  Particular note should be made to emphasising these issues and expressing solidarity on days such as Trans Day of Remembrance.
  2. To engage in the development of the conversation around free education and trans liberation through sessions at conference, discussions in meetings, articles on anti-cuts, and a reaffirmed theoretical and practical commitment to trans liberation within the women and non-binary and the LGBTQI+ caucuses.
  3. To recognize protest as a reasonable and legitimate response to TERFs, who have created careers and academic disciplines out of, in the words of the foundational manifesto in which much of their theory is grounded, ‘morally mandating transness out of existence’[1]. Confrontational responses are often necessary when the historical tactics they have deployed include doxing, public outing and humiliation, and harassment.  The problem with TERFs is not a lack of intellectual engagement with the issues at hand, and their influence in academia is still keenly felt, rendering struggle against their ideology particularly relevant to trans students.
  4. Facilitate discussion and consultation with trans members about the possibility and utility of setting up a trans caucus within the organization, recognizing that this is a decision that must emerge from bottom-up autonomous organizing rather than being imposed from the top down.  Trans members may have different desires and needs about the kinds of spaces that are comfortable, appropriate or politically useful and NCAFC should do its utmost to be sensitive to these complexities.
  5. To link up with groups such as Actions For Trans Health and Bent Bars to contest broader oppressions encountered by trans people in society.

2) NCAFC supports Cut The Rent campaigns and rent strikes as a tactic

Proposed by: Anabel Bennett-López, Dominique Hua, Jack Kershaw, Matthew Lee,
Clementine Boucher, Harvinder Chera, Tyrone Falls

NCAFC notes:

1. The victories of the various Cut The Rent campaigns that have sprung up on campuses nationally after the success of UCL Cut The Rent.

2. That research by the National Union of Students shows that rents are soaring for students across the country; with students in London hit the hardest. NUS identifies this as a key part of a “cost of living crisis” for students.

3. The housing affordability crisis is also wide spread beyond London and its boroughs.

4. There are currently numerous grassroots campaigns such as Focus E15, New Era 4 All,  Radical Housing Network, London Renters’ Union and Acorn which are actively challenging social cleansing and skyrocketing rents.
5. As well as supporting housing struggles beyond the student movement, we are in a key position to agitate for and lead housing struggles among students.
6. That we have successfully passed relatively radical housing policy within NUS, meaning we are in a good position to press NUS to finally follow through on that policy.

NCAFC believes:

1. Housing campaigns continue to be a fundamental area of struggle under the Conservative government, particularly considering the continued marketisation of our universities.
2. Housing is a human right, and the left should be united in calling for this right to be upheld for all members of society.
3. Rent strikes are an effective way of mobilising against universities.
4. That it is obscene and exploitative that students have to pay more in rent than they receive in loans or grants.
5. That with private rents becoming ever more unaffordable nationally, it is vital that universities provide an affordable alternative to all students.
6. It is vital for the student movement to express solidarity with those facing extortionate rents, eviction and homelessness.
7. Supporting campaigns around housing is an effective way for the student movement to link up with the struggles of the wider left.

NCAFC resolves:

1. To encourage and support Cut the Rent and similar campaigns surrounding housing on campuses, like at UCL, SOAS, Bristol and Sussex (under the umbrella of the RENT STRIKE group, the national network of Cut the Rent groups)
2. To support and build for demonstrations around the topic of housing.
3. To contact existing grassroots housing campaigns with a view to establishing strong relationships, and to find out how the student movement can most effectively support their work.
4. To use our channels of communication to publicise call-outs for housing-focused direct action, such as eviction resistance and occupations.
5. To raise a general call for “living rents” – rents set according to the needs and means of tenants, rather than the market and the profits of landlords and agents.
6. To actively support private tenants’ unions, such as ACORN and London Renters Union.

3)  Recommitting to the fight for political freedoms on campus and beyond

NCAFC notes:

  1. 18 months ago we voted to campaign for free speech and the right to politically organise on campuses, and to advocate the limited use of no-platform tactics to fascists. The policies can be found at http://anticuts.com/policies-free-speech-no-platform/. We noted the following problems: bans on speakers and meetings by government and managers; commercialisation of campuses pushing out postering, leafleting etc.; anti-political SU bureaucrats making it harder to organise events and societies; the anti-Muslim racism and anti-dissent thought-policing of Prevent policy; marketisation narrowing the academic breadth of teaching and research; victimisation and police violence against protesters and trade unionists; anti-union laws and regulations; and attempts to counter bigoted, right-wing and offensive politics with the extension of no-platform-style tactics.
  2. Since then, right-wingers and the authorities have only upped their cynical, hypocritical approach of using left-wing no-platform tactics to present themselves as the champions of freedom, while actually supporting much more draconian limits on freedoms. The Tory government, while implementing Prevent and marketization, now proposes to impose free speech policies on student unions from above, violating freedom of association. University managers violate student groups’ rights to organise our own events and free discussions by imposing speakers and chairs in the supposed name of “balance” and “free debate”.
  3. Demands to deny platforms can now be found on multiple sides of the same debates. At some universities in the USA, the right has taken up no-platform politics to demand suppression of the left, in particular to suppress pro-Palestine activists. Demands for bans have become go-to tools in political disputes: recently at UCL, Friends of Palestine society invited the anti-semitic Hamas supporter Azzam Tamimi, Friends of Israel invited the ex-IDF occupation-apologist Hen Mazzig, and both societies responded by arguing that the other’s event shouldn’t be allowed.

NCAFC believes:

  1. The left and liberatory movements exist precisely because reactionary, right-wing and bigoted ideas dominate control of society and are widespread. Part of defeating them involves the work of changing billions of minds – winning over and educating the people influenced by them. We should be absolutely uncompromising in arguing down and protesting bigoted and reactionary politics.
  2. Political freedoms have always been most denied to the left, the oppressed and the exploited, in order to stop us achieving that. Our movements have had to fight tooth-and-nail to win and constantly defend our ability to organise and speak in the open. Without these freedoms, our ideas, which are in a minority, are at a disadvantage compared to the dominant ideas we are fighting.
  3. Building and defending as widespread a consensus as possible in favour of the right to open discussion is essential to our defence. When we say that some ideas are too bad to get these rights, or dismiss free speech as a right-wing concepts, we weaken our own position and give licence to those who will deny our movements oxygen.
  4. Open discussion is also vital within the left, to make sure we are democratic, self-reflective and always able to challenge and re-examine our own ideas.
  5. Debating our opponents, even when we are sceptical of the chances of convincing them, is most important because it gives us the chance to reach their audiences, many of whom will be less set in their ways. We are competing for hearts and minds, and if our no-platform policies mean turning down access to those high-profile platforms to challenge ideas which often have a larger audience than ours, we hamstring ourselves. Debating our opponents is important not only because we are seeking to change their minds, but because it gives us the chance to reach their audiences too. However, we must recognise that in certain situations there may be incredibly little chance of convincing those who are fiercely and ideologically committed to opposing our values, and we as activists and as an organisation must make a considered judgement as to whether it is worth expending lots of time and energy debating these people when that effort could be better spent elsewhere.
  6. As we agreed before, the work of going into a hostile world to confront bigoted ideas can be exhausting and distressing. We do so as a collective movement, in which we support each other, fight together, and no individual is expected to take on every battle or any more than they feel able.
  7. We use no-platform as a tactic against fascist organisations. Not because their ideas are too offensive or dangerous to be heard, but because fascist organisations are not just advocating ideas politically, but building paramilitary forces on our streets to conduct physical violence against marginalised groups, the left and the labour movement. Disrupting their ability to organise in any way is a legitimate tactic of self-defence – though it is not sufficient to defeat their ideas, only a political response can do that. We can extend the tactic of no-platform in limited circumstances to similar organisations which may not be fascist but share the paramilitary strategy of organising to enact their bigoted and reactionary politics through physical force. We may also extend this tactic to individuals who deploy fascistic methods which put marginalised people in direct harm or danger, such as TERFs who out trans people in front of audiences, or those who publicly name undocumented migrants.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To reaffirm the policies we passed in June 2016 on political freedoms and no-platform (http://anticuts.com/policies-free-speech-no-platform/) and re-commit ourselves to the fight for freedom of speech, debate, organisation and political action on campuses, in order to give space and oxygen allowing students’ and workers’ organisation and struggle to bloom.
  2. To include in this campaigning opposition right-wing interventions from above that violate free association – we oppose the imposition of “free speech” policies on unions by the hypocritical, censorious government, and we oppose the imposition of external speakers and chairs at campus events in the name of “balance” – the right to organise “unbalanced” meetings, to promote one’s own ideas, is a key political freedom.
  3. To re-affirm that we target the use of no-platform tactics specifically at those organisations which attempt to build a hostile, reactionary, physical-force presence on our streets to conduct violence against marginalised groups, the left and the labour movement; and to re-affirm that we never ask or rely on the state or bosses to do this for us.
  4. To continue arguing for this approach in the NUS and wider student movement with patience and sensitivity to the reasons why many people advocate no-platform policies.

4) Support 1 Day Without Us – unity, solidarity and celebration!

Proposed by: Robert Liow, Hansika Jethnani, Ruby Dark, Laura Wormington, Nickolas Tang, Shreya Gupta, Shivani Balaji

NCAFC notes:

  1. Despite attempts to placate the international student movement with promises to remove international student numbers from migration figures, the Home Office’s attacks on international students continue unabated
  2. Attacks on international students, such as stricter attendance monitoring for Tier 4 (student) visa holders in “compliance” with the UKVI’s policy, are part of the wider hostile environment policy deployed against migrants to discourage migration to the UK
  3. The NCAFC in its Winter Conference of January 2017 has previously adopted the motions “No to the “Good vs. Bad” Migrants Rhetoric!” submitted by Warwick for Free Education and “Hold the Line: Defend Free Movement” submitted by Workers Liberty, thus resolving to build solidarity between international students and the rest of the migrant community, defend and extend freedom of movement for all, and resist further attacks on international students specifically by direct action if necessary
  4. On February 17th, 2018, a national day of action will take place called 1 Day Without Us, called by the organisation of the same name. This is the second time such a day of action was held, with the first happening on February 20th, 2017 and resulting in 160 events across the UK
  5. This event is led by migrants of all kinds, people with a history of migration and those who support migrants and migration, who are planning this day of action as a day of unity, solidarity and celebration of migrants and migration to the UK
  6. The aim of the above day of action is to stand in unity, solidarity and celebration with the people of all nationalities and genders who have made the UK their home, including British citizens who may not necessarily identify as migrants but who have a history of migration in their family, and to celebrate the contributions that migration has made to British society while considering the possibility of a better future in which we work together in the common interests of fairness, equality, inclusivity and social justice

NCAFC believes:

  1. The definition of migrant by 1 Day Without Us as “the people who have come to work, live, study and seek refuge here” explicitly promotes solidarity between international students and the rest of the migrant community
  2. We must fight back against escalating attacks on migrants and restrictions on migration from the government, and against wider societal prejudice, and against the exploitation of migrant workers
  3. All differentiated treatment between non-EU international students and home/EU students, including the attendance monitoring of Tier 4 (student) visa holders and also the drastically higher tuition fees that non-EU international students must pay, must be opposed as part of the fight to defend and extend free movement
  4. Migrant and pro-migration protests have been hugely empowering and effective in other contexts, for instance in the United States
  5. It is absolutely legitimate to cause disruption to fight oppression and injustice

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To support 1 Day Without Us, sending a message of solidarity to the organisers and signing on to their statement of support
  2. To promote 1 Day Without Us to NCAFC audiences including students, student unions and the NCAFC’s affiliated local activist and political groups through NCAFC platforms, including NCAFC social media platforms like Twitter as well as the NCAFC blog, thus helping to build turnout and maximise its presence on social media and in the press
  3. In so promoting 1 Day Without Us, to strongly draw the link between the fight for free education and the fight to end racist, xenophobic restrictions on migration, including attacks on international students and the continued justification of differentiated treatment for non-EU international students as opposed to home/EU students
  4. To contribute what resources it is able to help build the day of action

5) Support workers’ struggles on campus

Proposer: Workers’ Liberty Students

NCAFC Notes:

  1. NCAFC has always been committed to supporting workers’ struggles and put this at the forefront of our politics, including agitating for this through slogans such as ‘students and workers unite and fight’ at this year’s national demo, as we have done in the past.
  2. This year, there have been successful struggles for better conditions by cleaning staff at LSE and SOAS, many of whom were migrant workers. A feature of these struggles was clear and widespread student support.
  3. Recently, other disputes have emerged, such as the fight for the living wage for workers at Nottingham University, and the fight for better conditions for University of London workers.
  4. UCU members are balloting for major industrial action against massive attacks on USS pensions.

NCAFC Believes:

  1. Many NCAFC activists have been involved in solidarity work in these campaigns, and this is our opportunity to make sure that the organisation as a whole is carrying out activity in support.

NCAFC Resolves:

  1. To orient itself towards serious and consistent solidarity work for these campaigns. This includes, but is not limited to, a range of activity, such as building student support at picket lines, publicising strike dates on social media and through all-member emails, and organising a series of local fundraising activities to help the strike fund, such as fundraiser gigs. Where possible and appropriate, NCAFC’s regional level of organisation should be involved.
  2. For starters, this should involve mobilising NCAFC’s resources for ongoing campaigns in which NCAFC activists are already involved, for example (but by no means limited to!) the staff cuts at Manchester, the living wage campaign at Nottingham Uni, and Justice for University of London Workers.
  3. To work to build solidarity among students and student unions for: the UCU’s pension campaign, a “yes” vote in the industrial action ballot, and any resulting industrial action; and to apply pressure demanding NUS does not drag its feet, equivocate or sell out workers, but throws its full weight behind the cause with an active campaign.

SECTION 2: STRATEGY

6) Building the organisation and rebuilding internal democracy

Proposed by: Hope Worsdale, Josh Berlyne, Rory Hughes, Lewis Macleod, Julie Saumagne, Sara Khan, Helena Navarrete Plana, Ky Hall, Luke Dukinfield, Clementine Boucher, Uma Kotwal, Charlie Porter, Stuart McMillan, Chris Townsend, George Bunn, Małgosia Haman

NCAFC notes:

  1. NCAFC’s booklet for new members, Organise Agitate Educate, states that: “The NCAFC is fundamentally ‘bottom up’, in the sense that members and affiliated groups carry out initiatives, discuss them, and decide on the campaign’s actions and priorities through our democratic structures.  The life of the campaign is made up of the actions, and the discussions and deliberations of our local activists.”[2]
  2. Organise Agitate Educate also states that: “The campaign is also in a limited way ‘top down’ in the sense that the National Committee works to coordinate our work nationally; to pool resources and centralise information; to plan action in accordance with our conference decisions; to have a national, coordinated press strategy – and to help support and develop the work of local groups, by offering resources, advice and training.”[3]
  3. This year, NCAFC received 153 membership applications (as of 27th November, the time of writing.)  This compares to 219 applications in 2016, and approximately 432 applications in 2015.[4]
  4. At NCAFC Summer Conference 2017, a motion entitled “Rebuild the grassroots, fight university cuts across the country” was passed with overwhelming support, stating that “NCAFC needs to return to its roots and return to the grassroots”.[5]

NCAFC believes:

  1. Our organisation should function as it is described in Organise Agitate Educate: it should be fundamentally bottom-up, and only in a limited sense should it be top-down.
  1. To limit the ability of the National Committee to dominate the organisation, pluralism should also be fostered; from its inception, NCAFC was positioned as a pluralist organisation. NCAFC should actively encourage involvement and engagement by activists from across the spectrum of the student left.  It is not desirable for any single group to dominate the organisation; pluralism guards against this.

NCAFC further believes:

  1. Currently, the organisation is only in a limited sense bottom up; it is currently highly centralised, with the national committee collectively working at an increased level of activity than in previous years. This has been combined with a decline in the local tradition ‘defend education/free education’ type campus activist groups. While it is important for us to always maintain a healthy criticism of our own organisation and work to improve the activism we do, we should also recognise how the changing nature of politics nationally can affect the organisation. We should do more to foster a culture of engagement with wider activists in the decisions we make between conferences by fostering a greater culture of debate on the loomio and encouraging activists to come and speak at our monthly national committee meetings, which are always open. We should hold more of these meetings outside of London to make it easier for other activists to come.

That there are both internal and external factors behind the decline in local activist groups and membership applications, and we should recognise the changing national situation:

  1. Core organisational tasks, such as maintaining the membership database, processing new members, organising conferences and training, posting regular NC updates to the membership, and soliciting donations, have not been prioritised by the National Committee.
  2. With the exception of a few campuses, activists have largely moved away from the traditional ‘defend education’ type groups and are engaging in different areas. For example, there are growing Cut the Rent groups across the country, as well as some new activists engaging in Labour Societies following the election of Corbyn. In Scotland, significant numbers of activists organise in Socialist Societies (which are distinct from both the Socialist Party or Socialist Workers’ Party). Many activists who attended the national demo are also involved in single-issue campaigns on their campus, rather than doing activity through broader based education groups, such as on mental health services campaigning, fighting for the living wage on campus, and against Prevent.’
  3. NCAFC should do more to engage the free education local groups that currently exist and play a key role not just locally, but in free education groups nationally. However, rather than artificially trying to set up traditional defend education groups on other campuses – or looking to resurrect these groups where activists are focussing elsewhere – we should recognise the more diverse and wide-ranging nature of current activism and seek to engage in these areas instead. We can do this by using our current connections to activists across the country to offer practical support and tie these activists into the national movement through our national campaigning against the Government’s education reforms and for free education. To determine its strategy, NCAFC should always be looking at the wider political situation and asking: “what do we need to do to take on the challenges facing the student movement?” and the best building of our organisation will happen as a result this strategy. This is opposed developing our strategy to relate to the rest of the movement based on what we perceive to be the needs for our organisation.
  4. During most of last year, before the general election, there were significantly uninspiring and demotivating conditions for activism. These included a flat and politically vague national demo organised by NUS which stood in contrast to our demo the year before, followed by a right wing turn by NUS at the national conference.Additionally, while lots of new students had become engaged in national politics in the previous year by the election of Corbyn as Labour leader, during most of the last academic year Labour were very behind in the polls and the Corbyn leadership had capitulated in some key areas, for example no longer committing to freedom of movement. The general election did much to turn this around and engage students in national politics, but that has not yet translated into a link between winning free education and campaigning on the ground to put pressure on the Government and Labour Party from below. It is our job to change this.
  5. As has happened in the past, it is easy for NCAFC’s national committee to be perceived as ‘London-centric’. We should combat this by doing some of the more basic practical tasks better – for example maintaining better initial contact with new members and sending out the NCAFC membership packs to new members, as well as coordinating national campaigns with the engagement of these and encourage as many activists as possible to come to our democratic decision-making events.
  1. There was a clear steer from our Summer Conference that the NCAFC membership wanted the organisation to re-orientate itself back towards the grassroots, focusing in particular on supporting local anti-cuts campaigns and supporting activists on the ground.
  2. In the summer, the NCAFC Summer Conference expected that the campus cuts sweeping the country would result in anti-cuts campaigns springing up on campuses across the country, and that the task for NCAFC would be to reach out to these campaigns, offer practical solidarity, link them up into a movement, and act as a national voice for this movement. Despite contacting a large number of institutions where there were cuts going on and several members of the national committee putting in a lot of work to do this, the spontaneous upsurge we predicted did not happen. We need to reassess our strategy to relate to this.
  3. If NCAFC is to truly be a relevant, strong, grassroots force within the student movement, it is crucial that we are self-reflective and pro-actively responsive to the concerns and criticisms of our membership base.
  4. NCAFC has played a crucial role over the last 7 years of the student movement, and there is still so much scope for NCAFC continuing to play an integral role in the student movement going forward. But we need to take stock of where we’re at, evaluate where things are going wrong and make changes to our focus and strategy if we are to be truly a truly relevant, powerful and dynamic grassroots organisation.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To refocus its organisational strategy in accordance with the beliefs set out above. This includes (but is not limited to):
  1. Starting immediately, the National Committee will set aside significantly more time to focus on core organisational tasks, and develop robust processes which facilitate these crucial tasks being fulfilled on a sustained and structured basis.
  2. Following every conference where a new National Committee is elected, there will be a skillshare day organised by the NC to ensure the sharing of knowledge and skills between more experienced and newer activists takes place.
  3. NCAFC will take proactive steps to encourage and foster a genuine culture of pluralism within the organisation, with a key focus on ensuring NCAFC is as inclusive and welcoming as possible to newly politicised students.
  4. The National Committee will develop a strategy for proactively reaching out to campus groups and activists to ask them what the key issues and campaigns are at a local level. This information will be recorded and continuously updated as a key point of reference for the NC, to enable the committee to develop strategies (in collaboration with local activists) for how to best support local campaigns.  One way to do this would be to “map” the UK student left, collecting and regularly updating the details of activist groups on all campuses, contacting these groups and inviting them to get involved in NCAFC.

7) A strategy going forward

Proposer: Workers’ Liberty Students

NCAFC Notes:
1. Campus staff cuts are happening across the country. But that the spontaneous upsurge of anti-cuts struggles that we predicted at our last summer conference has not happened and we have not been able to engage new activists in the national free education struggle this way. It is clear that we misjudged the situation in the summer and that anti-cuts campaigns have only sprung up on a very small number of campuses.

2. Nevertheless, through holding a national demo for free education, NCAFC has made direct contact with hundreds of students on over 50 campuses, many of whom had not engaged with NCAFC before. This led to thousands of students attending our free education now – tax the rich demo in London on Nov 15.

3. Either through the engagement of existing NCAFC activists, and in many cases from the contact we made as part of building the demo, we now know that there are growing local disputes and struggles of various sizes across the country. Examples of these include fights over the living wage, VC Pay, rent, mental health services, Prevent and more.

NCAFC Believes:

1. Last year was an uninspiring year for activism: NUS organised a small and uninspiring national education demo with a politically vague message that failed to inspire new activists to mobilise or attend; for much of the year the Labour Party, which was promising free education policy, was well behind in the polls; and NUS took a turn to right at its national conference.

2. The general election inspired and enthused thousands of students and support for free education is now widespread. However, especially following an uninspiring year of activism this has largely meant passive support and has not automatically translated into an upsurge of activists on campuses.

3. It is our role to change this. To show that to win free education and living grants, and to end the marketisation of education, we need to build a democratic movement from below.

4. In holding a national demo, we have ‘put NCAFC on the map’ this term. We have engaged lots of new activists in national free education campaigning and started to overturn the effects of the previous uninspiring year and threat of a passive national movement.

5. We now need to link NCAFC up with the activists across the country who are engaged in local disputes. Partly to bring national support to these issues and use the experience we have as a national organisation to help where we can. And partly to link these activists up with national free education campaigning and the national strategies we have committed to in order to undermine and defeat the Government’s Higher Education reforms.

6. This will mean directly contacting the students at the institutions we have made new contacts in, as well as the variety of activist groups and political societies that these activists are involved

NCAFC is a grassroots organisation and that we committed in the summer to building this from the bottom up. To do this we need to engage with these activists on the ground and help as much as we can to build these local disputes.

NCAFC Further believes:

  1. That as part of the mobilisation for the demo connections were made and expanded with many Scottish activists, for example:
  1. NCAFC activists promoted the demonstration and NCAFC at the freshers’ fairs at Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow, Strathclyde, Edinburgh University and Aberdeen University
  2. A NCAFC activist from London travelled and spoke to activists in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Strathclyde
  3. Further contact was made with activists from Abertay and Dundee – two places where, along with Strathclyde and Glasgow University, NCAFC has not had connections before
  4. NUS Scotland publicly backed the demo, stating: ‘We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our long-standing belief that education is a necessary step towards creating equity across our society; to extend our solidarity with students traveling from Scotland to support the demonstration, and those campaigning against fees and cuts in the rest of the UK.’[6]

2. Some of these activists travelled on long coach journeys from Scotland to the demo itself in solidarity, despite the fact that Scottish students don’t have to pay tuition fees.

3. There are students involved in local activism across Scotland, such as the cut the rent campaigning in Aberdeen and living wage campaigning at Abertay University, alongside the activism happening at the places that we also made contact with over the last three months. And recently at St. Andrews University, the Socialist Society (not associated with the Socialist Party) recently held a meeting of over 100 students. Additionally, the recent campaign and election of Richard Leonard as the new Scottish Labour Leader on a left-wing and Corbyn-supporting platform has engaged a lot of young people and students in broadly left wing politics and a national organisation for left-wing young people in Labour, Scottish Labour Young Socialists, continues to organise activity, for example during this Scottish Labour leadership election.

4. While tuition fees have been abolished for some students in Scotland, the Scottish Government has carried out devastating area reviews and cut further education significantly in recent years. Additionally, international students still face fees and students studying in higher education in Scotland still face large amounts of debt because of a lack of living grants combined with high costs of study, for example extortionate rents.

5. The recent Independent Student Support Review: “A New Social Contract for Students in Scotland” commissioned by the Scottish Government has recommended some significant improvements for financial support, but includes means-tested bursaries and loans and falls well short of providing education free of debt. And it is not proposed that funding for these improvements would come from taxing the rich and big business.

6. NUS Scotland’s response to this consultation was short of the policy passed at NUS Scotland conference. The review did not even include all of the demands made by NUS Scotland.

7. That NCAFC Scotland has gone through high and low points over the last seven years, and is not currently functioning as a national body. NCAFC as a whole should do more, not only to engage students in Scotland, but specifically to address the funding issues they face. And can do a lot more work to organise to win a fighting and active NUS Scotland that campaigns effectively for an end to debt of all students studying in Scotland

8. NCAFC has a key role to play in student politics in Scotland:

a) By connecting up these activists into a national movement and linking up these different struggles into a radical democratic activist network of students from across the left that does not currently exist.

b) Building this democratic network in order to develop and put concrete demands for greater education funding and other demands to the Scottish Government and exert pressure from below.

9. That this would also help engage the rest of NCAFC nationally in Scottish politics.

10. NCAFC should hold a democratic NCAFC Scotland conference to bring together these activists, develop demands for the Scottish Government, and discuss how to transform NUS Scotland into the activist body that it should be.

NCAFC Resolves:
1.To contact all the activists NCAFC has now made contact with and build on the excitement and momentum generated by the national demo, to offer support where we know local struggles are happening, and to find out about local disputes and activism elsewhere.
2. To link this in with building our national strategy for the second term: intervening to transform the NUS into a left wing and campaigning body, and any other national actions planned in future.

3. To organise a NCAFC Scotland conference within the next 6 months, specifically looking at the possibility of organising the conference in February.

4. To organise this conference on the basis of the format of our national conferences, with a focus on discussing the activism happening in Scotland and the situation of higher and further education in Scotland nationally, and with democratic decisions taken on how to take NCAFC Scotland forward.

8)  A Strategy for NUS

Proposers: Monty Shield, Ruby Dark, Ana Oppenheim, Jack Kershaw, Alex Booth, Raquel Palmeira, Sahaya James, Dan Davison, Maisie Sanders

NCAFC Believes:

  1. We are at a crucial point in the fight for an end to tuition fees and for universal living grants. The momentum is with us and we could be on the verge of winning free education in the UK
  2. A large student movement can exert the necessary pressure from below which ensures that free education stays on the national political agenda, keeps up the pressure on the Government, and pushes Labour to keep their commitment to abolishing fees in their manifesto and go further.
  3. Through the organisation of the national free education demo, and the work of local NCAFC activists across the country throughout this term, NCAFC has positioned itself as the leading student body fighting for free, democratic, liberated and accessible education.

NCAFC Further Believes:

  1. The Free Education Now – Tax the Rich demo was supported by many within NUS. But the right wing President Shakira Martin cynically and undemocratically blocked support for the demo being discussed at the NUS National Executive Council.
  2. Moreover, NUS President Shakira Martin has ignored the huge surge in student support for free education as well as the mandate for action for free education voted for at the 2017 NUS Conference. Instead, she has chosen to work closely with Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, an instrumental figure in bringing about the fee rises from £3000 per year to £9000 per year in 2010/11.
  3. If properly utilised, our national union could be a huge force in the fight for free education – using its vast resources to mobilise tens of thousands of students up and down the country and win great leverage over the Government.
  4. If done right, running in NUS elections is also an opportunity to promote our political perspective on the student movement, whether we win or not, and to link student activism on the ground and the building of a fighting left in NUS.
  5. Last year, our campaigns in NUS encountered serious difficulty because we agreed to put one of our candidates on a slate, the rest of which was opposing our other candidate in another race. In retrospect, this was a mistake.
  6. The NCAFC has rightly been very critical of the previously dominant section of the left in NUS. Among other issues, its focus on winning and maintaining bureaucratic power, and its reliance on apolitical diplomatic manoeuvring rather than effectively reaching out beyond the corridors and conference halls of NUS and sabb offices, contributed to the current situation where it has been ousted by the right, is now in disarray lacking direction or purpose, and stands discredited.
  7. We should not give up our independence from that section of the left, and our constructive criticisms of it, for the sake of electoral opportunism. Being clear about this is essential if we want to run an election campaign that is about clearly conveying promoting our political perspectives both within and beyond the conference hall, not just winning power.
  8. We need to clearly present NCAFC as an alternative leading force, rather than allowing ourselves to be perceived as a supportive accessory hanging off the side of that other section of the left. It needs to be visible that we are putting some clear water between ourselves and the failures and deficiencies of that part of the left.
  9. Based on all this, we should stand a slate of NCAFC activists for NUS full-time officer positions.
  10. That as part of this we should declare immediately that we plan to stand a candidate for President, as well as candidates for other positions to be worked out a later date, and that we are seeking to build a strong left slate.

NCAFC Further Believes 2:

  1. We might choose to run a full slate across all the VP positions as well as the Presidency. We might alternatively consider endorsing other candidates, if there are good activist candidates and there is a strong case to do so. Beyond endorsements, we will only actively organise as part of a wider slate if it is composed of politically sound activist candidates and if it supports all of our candidates, not just some. A guiding principle must be maintaining our political independence and our ability to openly make the criticisms discussed above.
  2. This year we should run campaigns differently from in the past two years. We should focus on NCAFC’s wider politics while not engaging in the ‘slick’ campaigns run in the past two years. We should focus on getting our political message out to lots of delegates and other students without spending as much of NCAFC’s money and other resources.

NCAFC Resolves:

  1. That the incoming national committee will build a strong left slate by standing lots of NCAFC activists for full time officer positions, potentially up to a full slate.
  2. To discuss with other sections of the left in NUS to win support for the slate we are building.
  3. Within the parameters discussed above, and without giving up our political independence, to discuss with other sections of the left in NUS and beyond to win support for the slate we are building.
  4. This approach means the National Committee should 1. actively consider and attempt to limit the number of NC members in our NUS intervention working groups or in other ways prioritising our intervention over other activity in the second term 2. avoid the duplication of administrative and political tasks be that designs and printing or the creation of contact spreadsheets and the messaging of delegations all of which is currently undertaken by a combination of wider intervention working groups and separate candidate campaign teams which has lead to an overall unnecessary increase in workload for the organisation and sometimes a lack of strategic focus and narrative coherence for our intervention as a whole. Instead now on NCAFC should collectivise the undertaking of these tasks, reduce them where possible and contact delegations on behalf of NCAFC with information which covers our motions, caucuses, bulletins, any fringe events and our candidates instead of on multiple occasions on behalf of the campaign we’re running for each NCAFC candidate (whatever number this maybe) we’ve stood.

SECTION 3: ORGANISATION

11) Moving NC elections from Winter to Summer
Proposed by: NCAFC National Committee

NCAFC notes:

  1. We have two regular annual conferences, in Winter and Summer. We currently hold our main annual NC elections at Winter Conference.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To move our elections to Summer Conference.
  2. To amend Section 4.A. of the constitution as below, so that the NC elected at this conference will serve a half-year term until Summer Conference 2018 when the new practice of summer elections will begin.

Section 4: Structures of NCAFC

A. Conferences

Conferences are the sovereign body of NCAFC. Any member of NCAFC may attend and vote.

  1. Calling conferences
  1. The National Committee is responsible for calling conferences
  2. There shall be at least one annual conference per year and one summer conference per year, as laid out below At minimum, each year there must be a Winter Conference and a Summer Conference.
  3. Ordinarily, conference should be at least two days long
  1. Notice of conference
  1. Notice of conference must be given at least one month in advance online
  2. The NC will also make efforts to promote conferences by off-line methods, such as ringing around and producing leaflets and posters.
  1. Conference agenda setting
  1. The NC has ultimate responsibility for setting the agenda of conferences and other events, and ensuring their smooth and democratic running
  2. Ordinarily, this will be delegated to a working group
  1. Submission of proposals and motions
  1. A motions and proposals deadline must be set by the NC, or its delegated conference working group, ahead of conference
  2. Motions can be proposed by: local anti-cuts groups and other groups affiliated to NCAFC, the National Committee, or a group of at least seven NCAFC members.
  3. Any individual member of NCAFC has the right to submit amendments to motions and proposals
  1. Conference agenda composition
  1. Conference’s primary purpose is:
  1. To debate motions and constitutional amendments
  2. Once per year, To elect a National Committee
  3. To host autonomous caucuses
  4. To provide a space for open discussion of NCAFC’s actions and strategy
  1. The NC will meet immediately after every conference.
  2. If the conference is two or more days long, there must be time given over to:
  1. Liberation caucuses, at least 45 minutes long – which cannot overlap with each other, or with any other conference business
  2. Regional and national caucuses, at least 45 minutes long
  1. Remitting: Conference may vote, by simple majority, to remit any matter to the National Committee. If this happens, the National Committee is vested with all the powers of conference on that matter
  2. Summer Conference Elections
  1. In the months of June, July, August or September, NCAFC will hold a summer conference. This can be combined with another event (such as a training or gathering event) and will have the power to:
  1. To debate motions and constitutional amendments
  2. Fill vacant or inactive posts on the National Committee, including through caucuses
  1. Elections for the National Committee shall be held at each Summer Conference
  2. At other conferences, bye-elections shall be held to fill any vacant posts on the National Committee until the next Summer Conference. Before any such the Summer Cconference, NC members whoare currently or are planning to step back become inactive in student activism are encouraged to resign so that their place can be refilled at the conference.

[1] The Transsexual Empire, Janice Raymond

[2] National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. Organise Agitate Educate: 5.

[3] Ibid.

[4] The figure for 2015 is approximate because NCAFC only began recording the date of application on 12th January 2015.

[5] https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ov6EXIhRdNF7pLUGO1bLE5bxsTvdlvGrWsCm0gccZU8/edit#

[6] https://www.nusconnect.org.uk/articles/sec-statement-on-national-campaign-against-fees-and-cuts-demonstration