LUC participated in the NUS-called Student Walkout at the University of Lincoln on 14th March 2012 – in the morning we distributed posters & flyers & later took part in the rally & teach-in. The flyer can be found here: [LINK]
It is easy to think that students have a pessimistic attitude since the University announced its fees would increase to £9000 per year. This is compounded by the NUS’ rhetoric: by saying “we won’t go quietly” we admit we have already lost. On the contrary, we have everything to fight for, privatisation continues apace & one fees increase will inevitably lead to more. Lobbying the government or waiting 3 years to vote when we are at the mercy of one nobody voted for is futile – education will only be free when the ruling classes are brought to their knees & working class people can determine their own future.
The Teach-In was primarily organised by Socialist Students Lincoln but showed signs of dominance by individuals & numerous flaws in democratic process. The teach-in was temporarily moved from its planned location to a lecture theatre, already invisible to the public & an anti-democratic space designed for a one-way flow of information. In this sort of environment it is very difficult for all participants to engage & replaces a student-led ‘teach-in’ with a sustained lecture. The one-way activity which persisted for most of the day made it difficult to establish a democratic situation in our workshop on autonomous education. We would strongly encourage members of SSL to organise for the most democratic process in the future, & have the confidence to organise en-masse while resisting individual authority.
The teach-in started with several interesting lead-offs on social housing & a critical history of the Black Panther Party, & when it came to our workshop later in the day the lead-off was well-received but we feel the point of the workshop was not fully communicated; we intended to explore the possibilities for autonomous education in Lincoln, using our Skill Share last summer as an example, but spent too much time debating the technicalities of libertarian primary schools, which, whilst interesting was not our priority. Students have shown interest in the workshop since 14th March & it is clear that there is room for independent action within the university, so we intend to follow this up with a workshop in the near future.
The SU was obviously resistant to any attempt at mobilising, only promoting the action days before the event & missing out the uphill colleges completely. All credit to the few SU activists who supported & promoted the action, they faced an uphill struggle. When unions block or disregard necessary actions like this, they demonstrate that we don’t need them to organise. An independent body of students which has the initiative & will to fight for the education they deserve can do things no amount of badges or t-shirts can do – mass action is an effective weapon.
Socialist Party, including members of the SP-dominated PCS union made use of the day to promote the 28th March strike action. On 20th March, however, PCS & UCU retracted this strike despite huge support for industrial action. This is a dismal example to student activists who should see that waiting for the large unions to act in our favour leaves us open to this sort of betrayal by bureaucrats.
LUC is committed to the education struggle: students co-founded LUC & we stress that education struggles are an integral part of the wider class struggle. LUC continues to support students as well as academic & non-academic staff. Anarchists fight for free education in every sense, to enable every individual to fulfil their potential as part of an egalitarian, libertarian society. As long as capitalism & authoritarianism exist education will never be truly ‘free.’ LUC will be holding a discussion & workshop in the coming weeks to advance this cause.