Solidarity with Students Around the World

Drafted by Jake S.
Students occupying the University of Amsterdam form a general assembly / Roarmag

Students are mobilizing against neoliberal education institutes across the globe. Since february, students at the University of Amsterdam have occupied their school’s main administrative building to demand the halting of austerity, the democratization of university governance, and greater transparency of university finances, among other reforms [1]. The example of the University of Amsterdam occupiers has sparked a nationwide movement, inspiring students to launch similar actions at universities across the Netherlands.

Two weeks ago, the wave of student occupations crossed the English Channel. Students at the London School of Economics occupied a central administrative building to create an “open, creative, and liberated space where all are free to participate in the imagining of a new directly democratic, non-hierarchical and universally accessible education”. The students submitted a range of demands to the university which echo the Dutch students’ call to de-financialize the university.

Last week, Quebec’s spring protest season began. 47,000 students approved a strike mandate to boycott classes for a week or more in response to $200 million in funding cuts to Quebec universities. The Quebec Federation of University Professors estimates that hundreds of courses have been cancelled due to lack of funding. 59,000 more students have opted to strike for one day against the austerity regime, while 130,000 students still have strike votes scheduled for this week, making this spring likely to feature the largest student mobilization since 2012.

For students in Palestine, going to school at all is in itself a form of protest. As Mazin Qumsiyeh, a professor at Bethlehem and Birzeit universities, puts it: “everything we do here is a resistance, even living here, going to school. When my students come from Jerusalem, they have to cross checkpoints and it takes an hour or sometimes two. That’s resistance. Everything is a form of resistance.”

We call on all states to provide free higher education to their youth. Education is a means for personal growth and intellectual development which should be available to all people, rather than reserved for the children of the ruling class. Wall Street’s effort to financialize higher education through indebting millions of students is obscene and must be opposed by an American student movement. If we fail, the next generation of students may expect to have a percentage of their future earnings be stolen directly by investment banks as a condition of their student loans, through the proliferation of “Income Sharing Agreements” (ISAs).

Furthermore, we recognize that the financialization of western universities is but one facet of the capitalist, imperialist monster which oozes its way across the face of the earth, subjugating students and would-be students in myriad ways. Israel’s concerted effort to disrupt Palestinian schools [2] hints at the liberatory power of education. Similarly, students at Chinese vocational “schools” often find themselves working as low-paid (or even unpaid) factory workers in cell-phone factories instead of studying.

Students almost always play a leading role in revolutionary movements. From Hungary in 1956 to France in 1968 to Egypt in 2011, students and other youths stood in the vanguard as they faced police and military forces on the streets. Capitalists know the revolutionary potential all students have, which is why they are careful to ensure that students across the world remain subdued.

In the west, this means the defunding of universities in tandem with the innovation of new, more oppressive debt instruments, along with the proliferation of pacifying content streams displayed on omnipresent smartphones. In the “third world,” oppression is more direct, as youths are violently discouraged from attending universities, in favor of working in deplorable factory conditions to build those smartphones.

Enough is enough. Now is the time to fight back. Is your university as thoroughly corporatized as the University of Amsterdam or the London School of Economics? Of course it is! Odds are, your university is putting you and other students in an even more dire situation. How you can you fight back? How can we connect your campus to the other recent mobilizations across the United States which may serve to be the roots of a larger anti-corporate student movement? Tweet at us with your ideas or post them on our page. Let’s get this movement started!
[1] If you can read Dutch, their demands are here. Some other posts on their website are in english.
[2] “Last year, in one semester, soldiers or border police attacked [Al-Quds University] 28 times with rubber bullets, tear gas and ‘sound bombs’, causing injuries to students and staff.”

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