After a great campaign across campus and on social media Fiona Lali, President of the SOAS Marxist society, has been elected to represent SOAS students at the national conference of the National Union of Students (NUS) later in the year.
Fiona ran her campaign on an openly Marxist manifesto, calling for free education, full living grants for all students, the abolition of student rent, opposition to discriminatory legislation like Prevent and all forms of oppression and exploitation, and working class internationalism. Her full manifesto can be seen below. In a five candidate race, Fiona took 40% of the vote with this revolutionary manifesto, and thus was elected as the lead delegate for SOAS at the NUS conference.
Fiona’s election will hopefully be the first of many successes for Marxists campaigning to be elected as delegates to this year’s NUS conference. The next step is to begin campaigns to pass radical socialist policy through local student unions so that it can be discussed and voted on at the conference later in the year. This is how Fiona and all the Marxist students will transform the NUS into a radical, fighting, socialist student union.
I’m a 3rd year student studying Law & Development studies and President of SOAS Marxist Society. I want to be your delegate to the NUS! Student politics has mostly always been a sideshow of wannabe MPs practising the fine arts of hypocrisy, posturing and careerism, with a grossly overinflated sense of their own importance. We shouldn’t tolerate this self-indulgence anymore. The NUS should fight for the needs of students, and this can only be done on a Marxist platform, linking up the struggles of students with wider society. Ultimately, the NUS has huge fighting potential behind it with millions of students! . Either our so-called representatives actually do something to fight for our future, or else they need to step aside and let those who will fight take the lead. I’ve been running the Marxist Society at SOAS to spread the ideas and theory of class struggle, and want to take these ideas to the NUS to fight on a bold Marxist platform that puts students, not profit first.
Higher education is facing a period of unprecedented crisis and capitalism is to blame. Tuition fees are now at £9250! To end this, education must be free from the influence of big business and that should be the focus of the NUS.
I am opposed to academies, because they are the first step towards the privatisation of schools. I am opposed to the privatisation of student accommodation and other student services at universities, because this causes universities to be run for the profits of private companies, instead of for the sake of education. I am against the business-model running of centres of learning, where learners are treated as little more than customers.
Schools, colleges and universities should be run cooperatively by students, parents, teachers, academics and staff. I stand for the democratic control of schools, colleges and universities by elected representatives, not unelected management.
I will fight for a democratically decided plan of investment in research and development at universities based on the needs of society. I oppose private companies, which are run for profit, dictating which research projects get funding and which don’t.
The biggest landlords, the banks, and the biggest businesses should be nationalised.
On that basis, not only could we fund free education, but we could rationally and democratically plan the economy, with the full participation of everyone. That would be the only way of linking up the needs of society with the ability of the education system and the economy to satisfy them.
Taken all together: this is what genuinely free education looks like.
Housing and Healthcare:
I stand for full living grants for students over the age of 16. Students need sufficient money that will allow them to live and eat healthily – which is integral to their mental and physical wellbeing.
I stand for free, good quality accommodation for all students. To achieve this, a coordinated national campaign of rent strikes among students must take place. Local rent strike committees should be formed, rent strike organisers should be trained and a rent strike fund should be established to cover any costs to students incurred by participating in rent strikes.
With these measures, we can put a stop to the mental and physical health crisis that afflicts thousands of us ? this crisis has its roots in the capitalist system and its stranglehold over our education and employment.
I will fight for the abolition of all student debt, which hangs around the necks of people long after they complete their studies as a source of anxiety and stress.
Oppression and exploitation
I will fight oppression and exploitation in all its forms. Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and every other form of bigotry can and should be rendered extinct throughout society. Moreover, nobody should be prevented from accessing an education due to poverty, or suffer through miserable, low-paying work upon entering the employment.
Being a student is a full-time occupation and no one should be forced to work to survive whilst trying to study which is why the NUS should fight for full living grants for all students.
For those students who have jobs I will fight for their organisation as workers to fight for better rights at work. I am opposed to the casualization of graduate teaching assistants and remain in favour of the living wage for apprentices. This includes the precarious contracts outsourced staff at universities are forced to take. I support the end of outrsourcing for all university staff. In sum, I will fight for the prohibition of zero-hours contracts, on which many young people and students are employed and through which they are exploited.
I am opposed to the Prevent legislation, because it is an attack on civil liberties that disproportionately targets Muslim students, and is increasingly being used against radical left-wing students.
I stand for international solidarity with students fighting for their rights and a better world, from South Africa to Brazil, from the USA to Palestine.
To show our solidarity concretely I am in favour of raising funds from the student movement to help the struggle of students in countries around the world. And I want local and national meetings to debate, discuss and issue public statements of support for the international student struggle.
I am opposed to the discrimination faced by international students. I will fight for the abolition of all tuition fees for international students. And I am opposed to the policy of sending international students out of the country as soon as their degree is completed.