David Pink talks about student activism

Wow, what a whirlwind week of activism it’s been. We’ve pulled off a successful two day strike with the NTEU and CPSU. We had a National Day of Action that saw hundreds of students mobilize at UTS and march to Sydney Uni to help build the pickets. We sat down on City Rd and shut down traffic. It was amazing.

Across the country Sydney had the most successful and well-attended National Day of Action. In my opinion this was because it wasn’t constrained by hierarchical organising and was instead fueled by a genuine grassroots movement. CCEAN, the primary body that organized for the National Day of Action in NSW, agrees. It passed the following motion for consideration by education activists around the country:

“The CCEAN calls for the formation of autonomous rank and file networks in states and regions across Australia. We call on these networks to fight back effectively and without bureaucracy against the brutal attacks of all major parties on education. Where currently there exists a culture of anti-democratic, inaccessible and inept student organising, we call for a broad student movement from outside the cadres of aspiring parliamentarians and union bureaucrats. The CCEAN will provide support to students in their efforts to organise autonomously with advice, solidarity, and within our means material assistance. We will also support such efforts to organise on a national and global scale.”

In Hope,
The Cross Campus Education Action Network

We need to organise now. Our education has been under attack for decades by successive neoliberal governments, and the attacks by the coming Abbott government will probably be more severe than any that preceded it. The point of the CCEAN motion is that we need to start organising ourselves rather than waiting for others to do so, and on our own terms. The era of student politics being run by self-interested hacks fighting for a career, rather than by students fighting for a future, must end.

Our tutorials are packed. Our courses are being cut. Housing costs a limb. Many of us cannot afford proper nutrition. We have to choose between having enough money and enough time to study. We’re stuffed with titanic debt that takes years to repay and that many of us never will. We’re resentful, stressed, we’re bubbling, seething. It’s time to bring together our anger and begin to build mass organisation. Everything we had, like free education, had to be fought for. We can win it back, and more.

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