The University of Western Sydney Bankstown Resistance activists Mia Sanders and Ian Escandor have been elected to the Bankstown Student Campus Council (SCC) and the campus magazine CrUWSible editorial board. The results were announced on October 31.
Sanders told Green Left Weekly she believes students related to the “RES Out West” ticket because it emphasised fighting the federal government’s education attacks and rejecting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, women and refugees.
“Our call for solidarity with oppressed minorities also appealed to the very multicultural campus.
“Resistance has gained support from students, and even staff, for a range of campaigns but especially against the education attacks, for refugee rights and justice for Palestine.
“Jan Falloon, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) branch president at UWS, congratulated us on our perseverance in even getting our nominations registered, and running the campaign. We’re looking forward to pushing forward in the campaign against Abbott’s education attacks and it will be good doing this with the NTEU’s support.
“Our call for queer, women and education officers on each campus — something that would go a long way to allowing minority voices to be heard — has also had good support.
“We urgently need greater student control of campus clubs. This was made evident by our struggle to form the Education Action Group, or the Students for Palestine group, which are still not recognised by the corporate entity on campus — Campus Life which “monitors” student activity and decides which club is allowed to be formed.
“We need a progressive student voice — a campus that comprises many progressive students.
“We discovered that the SCC disaffiliated the university from the National Union of Students (NUS) this year without consulting students, or even notifying us after the fact. This is concerning — especially now as the Coalition pushes its massive education cuts and deregulation. Our campaign highlighted the need for UWS to reaffiliate to NUS as one step to build a stronger fight-back.
“UWS Bankstown once had a very active student council and a rich history of student activism. It was one of the first campuses to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. But, despite a struggle, the student-run Student Representative Council was abolished in favour of Campus Life in the late 1990s.
“Bankstown UWS students are very political — but the organising structures which might allow students to express this on campus are weak or non-existent. In general, political students are hindered, rather than encouraged to network and collaborate.
“We want to change all this, and encourage much greater student involvement in the issues of most concern to them”, said Sanders.
Escandor told GLW that the student elections were not only a win for the Resistance club and progressive politics, but “a win for student voices and student action”.
“I speak with many students who are interested in politics but, unfortunately, feel disempowered and therefore unwilling to get involved in social action. I understand how they feel, and hope that by building stronger and more active student-led campaigns on UWS next year they will get more involved in activism.”
[Get in touch with the UWS Resistance Club on Facebook.]