Allen Haigh, Leeds University Socialist Students
This week at The University of Leeds, Socialist Students held its first stall on campus of the new term in support of the upcoming UCU strikes. After the general election result last term, we weren’t sure what sort of reaction we would get, but we were delighted by how receptive students were on the whole.
In an hour, we managed to hand out over 50 leaflets, and signed six new students up to find out more about Socialist Students. The main slogan we used when we were leafleting was ‘Resist the Tories on campus, support the UCU strike’, which was met with a highly spirited response. Despite the unfavourable outcome of the election, it appeared that rather than feeling despondent, students were invigorated and inspired to take action; we stressed that the UCU strike approaching (beginning on February 20th) presented the perfect opportunity for students who felt angry about the re-election of the Tories to get organized alongside striking staff and join the fightback against Tory austerity.
It was also heartening that we were approached by UCU members who expressed their gratitude for our support during the last round of strikes, and we exchanged words of encouragement in anticipation of what’s to come. Generally, students we spoke to were much more aware of the issues around why staff were striking, in defence of pay and pensions, compared to before they first went on strike, no doubt a testament to the mobilising potential of solidarity action.
In the coming weeks and months, Socialist Students will be building student solidarity with the UCU strikers, and discussing with students the need to also get organised alongside striking staff to build the fightback against Tory austerity on campus.