Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/551/6473
Students look for socialist ideas
The Socialist has received reports from all over the country about the success Socialist Students has had in recruiting new members. At many Freshers Fairs, students have been queuing up to find out more about socialist ideas and to get involved with Socialist Students campaigns. The following reports give a flavour of the events, even in the universities where student union rules made it hard and expensive to sign up to join Socialist Students.
There was a big increase in the interest in socialist ideas at Brighton University. There is now the potential to have a society separate from Sussex University. And we will be holding a meeting for the first time at the Eastbourne campus.
At Sussex, students were keen to talk about the rising cost of living and the impact this is likely to have on students' quality of life and education. We met over 200 people interested in joining.
We sold 20 magazines, nine copies of The Socialist and two books. We have a good opportunity to get students involved immediately in a campaign, as members of the Unite and Unison unions at Sussex University, mainly support staff, are planning strike action over attacks on their pensions by university management.
Our first meetings will be on 'What is Socialism?' with one joint meeting in Brighton and one in Eastbourne.
Sarah Wrack and Suzanne Beishon
At the University of Manchester, we sold 45 copies of Student Socialist magazine and signed up 100 new members. Our meeting on "What is Socialism" attracted 13 students.
Socialist Students national organiser Matt Dobson put the case for socialism, and the discussion ranged from campaigning against the BNP to the Campaign to Defeat fees.
Our stall at Middlesex University was covered with Socialism 2008 and Campaign to Defeat fees posters and I must say the response was really good.
Some students also applied to join the Socialist Party. To my surprise a policeman also asked me for leaflets. Overall it was very good experience indeed.
Our stall at Northampton University was in a noisy, sports-dominated area of the marquee but we still managed to attract hundreds of students. The petition for the campaign to defeat fees was hugely popular, and 120 students left their contact details and expressed interest in alternatives to capitalism and to market forces within education. We will be having weekly meetings and weekly stalls.
Amidst mediocre dance music, corporate sponsorship and Conservatives posing as civil rights activists, Socialist Students triumphed as the only real political society at Oxford Brookes Freshers Fair.
The new students were glad to see our material against tuition fees, with 18 signing up to join and many more signing the petition.
Several were enthusiastic about a fees protest in Oxford on 16 October, drawing together students from all the universities and colleges in the area.
We also want to link the fees issue to a Campaign for a New Workers Party meeting with Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist speaking on 13 October. Seven copies of the Socialist Student and five copies of The Socialist were sold.
At Exeter University, 50 joined Socialist Students and 100 put their names on our mailing list. We sold 32 copies of The Socialist, seven copies of Socialism Today and even two T shirts.
Socialist Students in Southampton got off to a promising new start. We gained close to 100 new members in less than a day.
Our stall stood out clearly from the other political groups on campus, with large photos showing some of our local and national campaigns and protests.
Students showed a keen interest in many issues, including supporting the workers who are facing job losses at the local Ford plant.
At Sheffield University, we held stalls on four days. With placards and petitions on fighting fees and the BNP, we got over 100 email addresses and a dozen people paying to join the society.
The students that showed interest mainly approached us about socialism and joining the society, rather than any particular campaigns, and three new people came to a Socialist Party meeting that week.
The first student meeting, "What is Socialism?" attracted about 25 students. It's been a great start to the year for Socialist Students in Sheffield.
News just in: at Warwick University, 65 people have put their name down to join Socialist Students.
In The Socialist 8 October 2008:
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news