Student candidates target education cuts

October 10, 2014
Mia Sanders (left) and Ian Escandor (right) with Resistance members at UWS Bankstown.

Progressive activists are contesting this year’s student campus council elections at the University of Western Sydney’s Bankstown campus.

RES Out West — Resisting Education Slashes — will run two activists for positions on the council and campus paper editors for 2015. Both are first year students and members of Resistance – Young Socialist Alliance.

Ian Escandor, also known as Esky, is a progressive hip-hop artist, community worker and student activist. He is studying Community Welfare and is active in the campaign to fight the education cuts on UWS Bankstown campus.

He told Green Left Weekly: “The SCC should be concerned with all issues that affect students and young people, not just UWS services and education.

“However, our ticket is very concerned with the federal government’s attempts to deregulate the education sector, which will make it a lot harder for UWS students, who generally come from lower socio-economic backgrounds and have to work as well as cope with a full-time study load.

“RES Out West disagrees with fees for degrees. Ultimately we support free education for all. But, in the interim we want the vice-chancellor to commit to freeze the fees at UWS for 2015, and add his weight to push back against education deregulation.

Mia Sanders is studying for her BA and has to juggle casual work at a pizzeria with full-time study and activism.

She told GLW: “We know how hard it is for students in 2014, and we don’t think the university is fighting [prime minister Tony] Abbott’s cruel cuts as well as it should. If Abbott’s education cuts go through the Senate, it will mean tertiary education will become increasingly out of reach for poor students.

“This is also one of the reasons we’re supporting all the National Days of Action against the education deregulation. It’s also why we’re supporting the university SCC re-affiliating to NUS.

“A national student body can play an important role in this fight. The SCC at Bankstown disaffiliated UWS without consulting students and without an alternative plan to fight the cuts.”

Sanders, a queer activist, is keen to use the campaign to generate support for Women’s and Queer officer bearers on every UWS campus.

“Currently, there is a Women’s room and a Queer rights room at Bankstown, but with no office bearers it’s impossible to run campaigns and raise consciousness about where discrimination comes from and how to end it.”

With a large number of students angry at the goverment’s inhumane “stop the boats” refugee policy, and the detention centre Villawood nearby, RES Out West is campaigning for it to be shut, and community processing of asylum seekers.

“The heightened Islamophobia and racism generated by the new ‘anti-terror’ laws has made this issue even more relevant”, Sanders said. “Our weekly stalls opposing Abbott’s support for Israel’s war on Gaza, calling for justice for refugees and against all forms of racism have meant that students see us as a conscience on campus.”

The ticket has highlighted the apparent lack of support for the Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education at Bankstown and is calling for Indigenous Officers on every campus.

“We’ve talked to literally thousands of students throughout the year about these issues — mostly stemming from racism and discrimination. It’s meant that we’ve been able to help others initiate a new club — Students for Palestine.”

RES Out West is also campaigning for improved student services, including free parking, free childcare, more shuttle buses and free, healthy and halal food. It is also supporting the divest from fossil fuels campaign at UWS.

It is urging students to work closely with the union covering tutors and lecturers — the National Tertiary Education Union — in its campaign for a fair contract with the university.

Sanders and Escandor are also standing for two of the editor positions for the student paper, CrUWSible. Escandor said: “CrUWSible is doing a great job in communicating the concerns of UWS students but it could be more interactive, with a stronger online presence.”

Like the article? Subscribe to Green Left now! You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.