Socialist Students exclusive: Resist attacks against free speech on campus – fight for democratic students’ unions!

At a time when a general election is taking place, and students are discussing how to fight for free education, affordable student housing, and a decent quality of life after university, serious attacks on democratic rights on campuses across the country are being perpetrated.

This includes the outrageous scandal of the blanket banning at Bradford University of all political societies by the Students’ Union.

This is in addition to news that at Sussex University the Student Union has banned students and societies from either campaigning or canvassing on campus during the election period.

Meanwhile at Southampton University, the Students’ Union has instructed societies that they will have to abide by a decision of the SU’s AGM on whether or not to support UCU strikers, or face being de-recognised as official societies.

These represent nothing other than a blatant attack against the right to free speech and the rights of students to organise, campaign and protest on campus.

These attacks come at a time when the salaries of university vice chancellors are at an all-time high – the average VC pay rose by 3.5% last year, from £245,000 to £253,000, while nearly half of VC’s were paid over £300,000!

At the same time, there is a huge fight back taking place in our society. University staff on campus are taking eight days of strike action between 25 November and 4 December against the bosses attacks on their pay, workload and pensions.

Meanwhile, students on campuses, as well as in schools and colleges, and young workers also, are discussing what is the best way to kick out the Tories at this election, and what kind of policies and programme a Corbyn led government needs to adopt to end austerity once and for all and fight for a future for young people.

These attacks against democratic rights are designed to undermine the efforts of staff striking back against austerity and marketisation on campus as well as students looking to fight to kick out the Tories.

Socialist Students demands that all of these anti-democratic attacks banning students from campaigning on campus are immediately reversed.

We also demand and campaign for the transformation of students’ unions into organisations which fight for students’ rights, alongside the restoration of democracy within all Students Unions, including the re-establishment of regular, all student general meetings organised by the local students union.

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