BY KYLIE MOON
MELBOURNE — In a win for left-wing students, activist ticket No War No Racism has won the position of education officer on the La Trobe University Students Representative Council in the student elections which finished on October 12.
Successful candidate Kim Halpin, also a member of the socialist youth group Resistance, was ecstatic with the result saying, "This is the beginning of a real turnaround for left activism at La Trobe Uni. We are now going to have access to far more resources, to run campaigns against the war, and against racism. La Trobe has a strong history of political action against war which we aim to revive."
The majority of the office-bearer positions, including the presidency and control of the student newspaper, were won by the Catalyst ticket, dominated by Australian Labor Students, a centre-left faction within Young Labor.
The result is a break from two years of right-wing control of the SRC. This year's council closed down the second-hand bookshop and cut the budgets of clubs and societies by $20,000.
The right wing campaigned in this student elections on the ticket Real Students, promising that if elected none of the SRC's money would go to protests such as S11 or M1, and telling students that anyone wearing a yellow "Stop the Racist War" badge was a communist.
No War No Racism, which included activists from Resistance, Workers Liberty, the Women's Action Collective, Socialist Alliance and the Environment Collective, fielded 10 candidates in the elections.
Said Halpin: "We spent hours petitioning, building the next anti-war protests and explaining why war on the people of Afghanistan is not the answer. Even if we hadn't won the education officer's position, the campaign was a huge success, just from the huge numbers of students we were able to engage with and draw into the anti-war campaign."
Halpin said she found one of the major obstacles was student cynicism — many were prepared to sign an anti-war petition but saw no point in voting in SRC elections.
"It was clear that the right-wing control of the SRC has made it difficult to demonstrate to students the impact activists in the SRC can have" Halpin conceded. "Our campaign clearly tried to distance ourselves from playing that game; we did no deals, and we were honest about politics."
No War No Racism will be continuing the campaign against the war on campus, joining the national student strike on October 18. To get involved phone Kylie or Chris on 9486 5472.