Leicester Socialist Students addresses the strikers and solidarity demonstration at Leicester University
Drums were beaten, speeches were delivered, chants were boomed, and banners and placards were held high. It was both fantastic and extremely moving to see the campus so alive today; from the picket lines of striking lecturers, researchers and professional services workers beginning bright and early at 7:30 this morning, to the rally ending around 2 o’clock this cold Thursday afternoon.
Not only was it moving to see university staff out on strike, passionately fighting against vicious attacks from their bosses, but it was amazing so see so many students standing in solidarity.
The message delivered to Paul Boyle and his pal David Willetts was clear: Not in this university; not in any university! The President of the Students’ Union highlighted the false (although unfortunately common) perception of Leicester University as apolitical. If ever there was a day to challenge such a perception, she argued, it was this one! Non-associated students and society-involved students alike were out in full force showing their unequivocal support for the struggle of our lecturers in fighting to keep their pensions unharmed.
Leicester Socialist Students were out from the start of the protest – flying our banner, joining in on the series of fantastic megaphone-delivered speeches, roaring out chants in solidarity of the striking lecturers, and unleashing a tirade of chants scolding the sorry excuses for our Vice Chancellor, Paul Boyle, and appointee-Chancellor David Willetts.
It was clear from the support received by all the speakers and rallying chanters, ourselves included, that this was not a demonstration representing a narrow spectrum of student and lecturer opinion; but a demonstration voicing the outrage and discontent of a unified force of students and university workers alike, who refuse to and are refusing to stand idly by whilst our education and quality of life are under attack by an elite section of this society we live in.
This demonstration is only the beginning of what we hope will be an extremely fruitful and powerful political struggle over the next few weeks and, if it must be, months. It has proven the raw power and potential of student-worker co-operation and organisation in fighting our common enemies; university management, the vice chancellors, and the Tories.
Lecturers, researchers and professional service workers: carry on striking and standing up against this despicable attack on your future livelihoods, and know that you can rely on the force of us students who will stand beside you and fight for your rights and well-being. Students: do not cross the picket lines. And if you have a lecturer who is not supporting the strike, find out why. Such loyalty to university staff will not go unrewarded, for when they come for us students to further undermine our rights and futures, they will stand at your side and actively fight for you as you have for them.
Today is only the beginning – and what a powerful beginning it has been.
Come to the next Leicester Socialist Students meeting on Tuesday 27 February, 6pm in the Pink Meeting Room in the Percy Gee building.
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