Anger at cost of living, rising rents, hated Tories and useless Labour, and failing capitalism
Freshers had an influx of students angry about the cost-of-living crisis that the Tory government has put us in, and the ridiculously low quality of life that this has left for students. This led to a successful Socialist Students meet and greet.
We’re supporting lecturers on strike, and campaigning against things like the extortionate price of student housing, owned by private landlords benefiting at our expense.
With our first meetings under way, students have an opportunity to have their voices heard. The Tories and Labour have no plans to scrap tuition fees, and plan to continue privatising education.
Many young people, sick of the dead end offered by capitalism and its representatives in all major parties, are now turning to socialist ideas to offer hope for the future. 80 people signed up to Socialist Students.
Many more have already started to draw socialist conclusions, and are keen to translate this into action. The importance placed by Socialist Students on campaigning and linking up with the wider workers’ movement was extremely welcome to many of those looking to get involved.
Over the next few weeks, we will be holding discussions on Marxist theory, revolutionary history, current events in Britain and internationally, and the relevance of all these for the day-to-day issues faced by young people.
We hope to carry this enthusiasm forward, and reach out to even more people looking to join the socialist fightback.
Young people are fed up with this current government, and the capitalist system as a whole. We have been campaigning in the streets and on the campuses, talking with the youth and students about socialist ideas.
One of the key shifts in the mood compared to last year is the feelings towards Keir Starmer’s Labour Party. Last year, the majority of students felt a complete sense of apathy towards him.
That sense of apathy has turned into disdain and anger. On countless occasions he has gone back on Jeremy Corbyn’s pledges to better the lives of young people.
This mood was reflected in our very successful first Socialist Students meeting, attended by 50 people. The discussion focused largely on the need for a new mass workers’ party, and how it can be achieved.
Many of the first-time attendees were keen to get involved with further action, indicating interest in helping out at campaign stalls, and coming to support striking workers on picket lines.
In Sheffield, Socialist Students is the only student organisation calling for a new workers’ party. So it’s important that we get out there and meet new people to build for this alternative, uniting students and workers to overthrow capitalism.
Many people shouted our slogans back at us in support, whilst walking to their lectures – particularly removing the Tories. Even though our stalls informing young people about Socialist Students were plagued with heavy rain, wind and security, we managed to get 32 new sign-ups.
We had in-depth conversations with passersby, who were either supportive or curious about our group. We even had conversations, and handed out material, to the workers on the Dominos and nightclub stalls.
Ten people attended our first meeting. And our discussion was very international.
The University of Birmingham has a high number of international students. And, unlike previous years, three-quarters of the new attendees at the meeting were international students.
Chinese students attending had first-hand experience of a repressive regime calling itself ‘communist’. They provided a unique insight, and shared their experience of political organisation in their country.
A Canadian student at the meeting pointed out that students from both Britain and around the world have a great opportunity to learn from each other this university year. Through Socialist Students, we will foster greater international solidarity.
We don’t have a Socialist Students group at Teesside University. In fact, it does not have any political student societies! So, we set up on the public highway which runs through the heart of the campus.
We sold the Socialist paper, Socialist Student magazine, met people interested in the Socialist Party and Socialist Students, raised fighting fund, and handed out a load of leaflets with details of our upcoming public meeting about climate change.
Among those interested was somebody moving back up to Newcastle, a student from India involved in radical student politics there, and a person who had been a member of the NDP, a historically social-democratic party in Canada.
Hopefully, next, we can have an official Socialist Students society at the university.
A large sentiment from those we spoke to was that capitalism is failing everyone. So we can see that amongst the youth, socialist ideas are gaining traction.
It is encouraging to see that the potential for building Socialist Students is very promising. 14 people signed up. We’ve already had a public meeting, with a second planned.
Chloé Rae Leslie
Socialist Students took our ideas to the freshers fair and a campaign stall outside, armed with leaflets and sweets.
We are excited to welcome students to join us in our fight. And I look forward to seeing new faces on the picket lines, as the University and College Union (UCU) strikes start back up again.
Getting new people to join Socialist Students has never been more important. Students are still faced with the cost-of-living crisis, cripplingly high rents, and Tory incompetence.
We are more determined than ever to fight against continuing cuts, uniting both students and staff.
I also hope to see more and more Socialist Students members speak at rallies and events, bringing the student voice to the frontline. We’re also building Socialist Students at Liverpool John Moores University, continuing our call for rent control and fair pay for university staff.
Students are excited about new experiences at university, and angry knowing how hard students will suffer during this crisis. In the first two hours of our stall, 28 students were interested in campaigning against the student cost-of-living crisis.
It’s clear who they blame for this crisis. Students want the Tories out, but they don’t trust Starmer and the Labour Party.
Students we spoke to know that the Tories and Labour are two sides of the same coin. And today’s young people increasingly want to see socialist change in society.
Students were talking of living in cold accommodation, which they can’t afford to heat. Others were struggling to buy food and other essentials.
Our Socialist Students/Socialist Party pop-up stall was outside the university. As the cost-of-living crisis hits students, many are looking towards socialist ideas.
If capitalism can’t afford to give young people decent living conditions, then we can’t afford capitalism.