The student left has won a big victory at Curtin University, taking several key positions in the student guild elections held over September 25 to 27. Positions won include president, education vice-president, women's officer and queer officer.
The Left Action ticket ran a very political campaign, highlighting a range of student rights issues. These included opposition to the university's planned budget cuts and cuts to courses.
The university is also planning to increase parking fees, which will hit students hard.
Left Action's strong stance on these issues resonated with students and helped get the ticket over the line, said successful presidential candidate Jess McLeod.
Left Action also profiled its support for broader campaigns such as for equal marriage and refugee rights. The campaign also took a stance against Islamophobia and made clear its support for justice in Palestine.
The main opposition to Left Action was a ticket called Unity, which was led by Liberal students. Unity presented itself as the mainstream alternative to the “reds”. In a throwback to 1950s style red-baiting, posters reading “better dead than red” were pasted over Left Action posters on campus.
The results were close and Unity won several positions. However, the victory for the left on a principled platform is testament to the fact that hard work combined with a genuine commitment to social justice can get results.
McLeod, who is also a member of Socialist Alternative, told Green Left Weekly that this was the most serious campaign waged by a left of Labor ticket at Curtin University since the Resistance-led Higher Education Action Team contested the elections in 1996.
McLeod said the task ahead is to consolidate the election victory by building a left-wing, active and fighting guild.