student-politics

Bernie Being Bernie

Bernie Sanders on CNN discussing income inequality and his plan to fix it for the working class. “Since I’ve been a mayor, a congressman, and a senator I’ve been working for working families and the middle class. For the last 40 years the middle class in this country has been disappearing, people are working longer hours for lower wages and yet almost all of the new income is going to the top 1%.”

CNN then asks the pivotal question, “Hillary Clinton says the same thing, why Bernie Sanders and not Hillary Clinton?” That is definitely a good question and Bernie hits it out of the park. “I’ve known Hillary Clinton for 25 years, I like her and I respect her. I’m running for families and the middle class, not against Hillary Clinton. People have to look at the record. I have voted against every disasterous trade agreement and I’m helping lead the effort against the Trans Pacific Paternership which will mean the outsourcing of more good paying jobs to low wage countries. People have got to look at Secretary Clinton’s record.“

Sanders then discussed some of the finer points of his economic policy. Namely breaking up the big banks and tax reform. On top of that he introduced his ideas on FREE college education. Which is a necessity for the future prosperity of American society and democratic society in general. From there he briefly glosses over his political record and changes the focus of the interview to his fight against Climate Change. Which he feels is a paramount issue in American politics.

Sanders is the real deal. He has a consistent record across the board and truly fights for the average American. Be on the look out for our in depth look at Bernie’s Economic policies, a smaller part of our on going in depth look at Bernie and his positions. Which will be based on his voting record and publicly pronounced positions over the years. Bernie Sanders 2016!

The Rise of South African Xenophobia

by Patrick Bond

Political symbols in South Africa are here today, gone tomorrow, but oppressive political economy endures. At surface level, an explosion of anti-racist activism amongst the most enlightened South Africans – up-and-coming black scholars trying to break various ceilings of residual apartheid power – is occurring at the same time a xenophobic implosion is wreaking havoc on the bottom socio-economic ranks.

In mid-March at the University of Cape Town (UCT), undergraduate politics student Chimani Maxwele threw a bucket of excrement onto the statue of colonial mastermind Cecil John Rhodes, catalysing a revolt against white-dominated power structures there and beyond. Less than three weeks later, a revolt by the poorest urban South Africans in the country’s two other major cities – Durban and Johannesburg – was aimed at a layer just as poor and oppressed: immigrants, mostly from elsewhere in Africa.

At least ten thousand people were displaced within days. With South Africa hosting an estimated five million foreign nationals living within its 53 million residents, terror has struck those with darker skins and the misfortune to live in the lowest-income areas: urban-peripheral shack settlements or near inner-city migrant labour hostels.

Rhodes falls but his borders keep rising

The #RhodesMustFall campaign caught fire at UCT, the main site of South Africa’s bourgeois class reproduction, with protesters demanding curriculum changes, racial equity in the professoriat and the resignation of university leadership. They were quickly victorious against at least one telling symbol: a huge statue of Africa’s most notorious English looter. The bronze Rhodes was removed from a central campus base within a month, carted off by university authorities to what will eventually be a lower-profile setting.

The campaign set the emergent 1% elites of UCT against the old 1% power structure. Historical recollections of Rhodes’ diamond monopoly-making fortune surfaced, leaving bourgeois commentators and news organs like Business Day rattled.

Rhodes, after all, helped establish many early systems of exploitation – including migrant labour (and women’s role in cheap labour provision), illogical African borders, dependency upon minerals extraction, land grabs, environmental destruction and the ultra-underdeveloped rural Bantustans – that persist today. Indeed they are now often found in even more profitable and amplified forms (casualised labour, mining house prerogatives), fully endorsed by South Africa’s current political and economic rulers no matter their skin hue.

However, the 99% versus the 99% in the shack settlements also frightened South Africa’s top 1%, mainly because of the hard-hitting impact on the national ‘brand’, a source of repeat elite panic. World public opinion is frowning on Pretoria, and, encouragingly, the rest of the continent has taken this long-overdue opportunity to channel myriad grievances against the regional hegemon.

Across Africa, broadcast and print media remind audiences of how the Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini had set off the pogroms when on March 20 at a ‘moral regeneration’ rally, he referred to immigrants as ‘lice’ and ‘ants’: “you find their unsightly goods hanging all over our shops, they dirty our streets. We cannot even recognise which shop is which, there are foreigners everywhere… We ask foreign nationals to pack their belongings and go back to their countries.”

Within ten days, that call had been taken up by Zulu loyalists in Durban, including the president’s son, Edward Zuma (born in Swaziland), who claimed immigrants “are the reason why there are so many drugs in the country” (he was prosecuted for illegal tobacco importation and tax fraud last year). Backed by most politicians, Zwelithini went into denial, first, complaining of media misinterpretation, and claimed he meant no harm against legal immigrants.

Yet the mass meeting of 10,000 mainly male Zulu traditionalists he assembled at the main Durban stadium on April 20 reverberated with xenophobic chants and booing of ambassadors from Africa. Zwelithini told the gathering he wanted an end to violence. But to achieve that required much more: Zuma finally deployed the army in Durban and Johannesburg hotspots the next night, as the police were proving incompetent.

Backlash

The fakery behind the image of a ‘Rainbow Nation’ was unveiled, as happened in 2008 and 2010 when xenophobia also reached critical mass. But for many years prior, the rest of the continent already knew South African predators. Grievances include exploitation by Johannesburg mining houses, retail chains, cellphone businesses and breweries, and the difficulty of getting a visa to even visit South Africa, especially from Kenya and Nigeria, the two main Anglophone competing powers on the continent. (Diplomatic-level tit-for-tat is one reason.)

Popular disgust across Africa at how little the South African state was doing to protect immigrants reverberated especially strongly where the refugees mainly hailed from: Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In many capital cities across Africa, the 99% lined up in marches, protests and boycotts against Africa’s sub-imperialist 1%….


Continued at:- http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/05/04/the-rise-of-south-african-xenophobia/

Lets Act! (LA), the far-left student political party at UCLA, was dramatically swept from power, in election results released Friday, May 1, 2015.

LA, a coalition of mostly identity-based groups (e.g. Afrikan Student Union, MEChA, Queer Alliance, etc.) was defeated 8 seats to 3 (with 3 independents) by their rival, Bruins United (BU), a coalition of most everyone else (led by the Jewish community, fraternities, and sororities).

LA and its constituent groups constituted the bulk of left-wing identity politics efforts at UCLA.

LA was responsible for slew of anti-Israel actions:  Two BDS resolutions at UCLA; objecting to the Judicial Board appointment to Rachel Beyda because she is Jewish; and attempts to disqualify candidates who took trips to Israel.

[UCLA Student Judicial Board Meeting – Jewish Student Challenged]

The election likely was influenced by the release by an anonymous Whistleblower of years of alleged internal documents posted online.  As reported by The Daily Bruin, LA allegedly funded their campaigns by dealing drugs and misappropriating student government funds.  (LA denies the charges.)

Other documents detailed LA’s radical goals; its identity-based organizational structures; an effort to covertly take control over a well-funded university institution; and an Opponents list targeting parts of the UCLA community.

LA’s leaders, of course, blamed racism for their defeat.

At a gathering to cope with their defeat, one of LA’s few elected council members said “they hate me because I’m a brown Muslim woman, They hate me because I have passed divestment on this campus.” and that “they will try their hardest to kill me”.  She added that will serve on an all-white council (A revealing statement of the true role that Asian-Americans, several of whom will in fact serve on council, play in the left-wing identity worldview).

Heather Rosen was elected President.  Rosen was the council member who mostly stood alone against the last BDS resolution last fall when the Jewish community chose not to show up, and who played a key role in defending Beyda.  She defeated Morris Sarafian in an unprecedented 60%-40% landslide.

Sarafian was one of the students who raised questions regarding the judicial appointment of Rachel Beyda because she was Jewish.  He now claims he was racially profiled in the election:

BU also – for only the second time in the 21st century – denied LA the office of external vice president, tasked with representing the interests of UCLA students to the larger community and state government.  BU promised to ensure the office not pursue any particular group’s political or ideological agenda.

This was a powerful blow to LA’s radical anti-Israel activism.  Former USAC president Devin Murphy was distraught, saying:  “That’s our home. That’s where the work that we do starts.”

These outcomes show the importance of going on the offensive, even after a BDS resolution has passed on campus.

Turning student government into a weapon to relentlessly attack Jews is a trauma for the entire campus community, and BDS a potentially-costly expenditure of political capital.  Even – or, especially – when BDS opponents are striking back hard, BDS supporters can be rightly blamed as the root cause of campus strife. A promise of campus peace combined with appeals to local issues can be highly effective in such an environment.

The election also showed the importance of turning radicals’ extreme actions into news in the larger community.

CampusClimatologist is someone very familiar with the situation at UCLA, but who, for reasons related to employment, has to use a pseudonym.

Quebec Student Protests

Hey so I just got this email from a friend of mine in Montreal:

“I know some of you are aware of the situation in Quebec at this moment, with a second wave of striking students mimicking the massive 2012 student uprising that toppled the government and rolled back tuition increases.  We are still in the early days of this new strike, pressuring the government to roll back austerity measures against universities, social services, and the environment.  Like 2012 students have already been severely injured due to police aggression, with one student recently shot in the face with a tear gas canister at point blank range.  Others have already faced administrative intimidation and expulsion for simply participating publicly in the strike.


Today, police stormed the University of Quebec at Montreal, violently assaulting striking students and arresting many. Brave professors formed a human chain around students to prevent further violence, and currently there is still a stand off at this very moment! Over the last three weeks there have been countless protests and night marches with thousands and/or tens of thousands of students in the streets–but we know little is being reported outside of Quebec–in part because we are a French province and anglos don’t know/don’t care what’s going on here.

So I’m writing to you to you all so that we aren’t disappeared and because I know many of you would stand with us if not in the streets, at least in spirit. So please, share the news about what is happening in Quebec with your friends, colleagues, and students. And to stay in the loop if you’re interested, you can always see what’s going on at this website which acts as a clearing house for anti-austerity related information.”

I hadn’t heard ANYTHING about this until they sent me this email so spread the news!

The University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor, Stuart McCutcheon, earns $650,000 to $660,000 a year in a remuneration package, making him the highest-paid public official in the country. His pay package increased by $20,000 from 2012 to 2013. If there is not enough ‘public funding’ to place a freeze on fees or to pay workers at the University an adequate wage then why is there enough to pay Professor McCutcheon’s salary?

How is this kind of salary possibly justified for any public official when between 500,000 and 750,000 people in New Zealand are living in households with incomes below the poverty line? As New Zealanders, we bare the unfortunate statistic of an estimated 270,000 children living in poverty. How does the University of Auckland contribute to the perpetuation of poverty? Cleaners at the University of Auckland are paid a minimum wage, some of whom have worked for the University six days a week for 30 years. Wages are out of step with the cost of living and an institution bound to be the conscience of society cannot defensibly continue paying below subsistence wages.

At present, the real danger on campuses is not from plaintive student demands for safe-spaces and trigger warnings, but the systematic and often concerted efforts to avoid or prevent protests and demonstrations, to shame and bully radicals into silence, into acquiescence with their seniors and presumed betters. While for decades patronising old lefties have bemoaned the lack of radicalism and political consciousness among students, now many of the same old lefties bemoan its very existence.
Important election PSA for students!

Just because the “students can vote twice” factoid tends to make the rounds whenever we have elections;

YOU CAN:

Register to vote at your university residence and your home residence

Vote in local elections for both addresses

Vote in whichever constituency you prefer for the general election, regardless of which of the two you’re living at on the day

YOU CANNOT:

Vote in BOTH constituencies you’re registered at for the general election


This is really important to have straight because if you vote twice in the general election it’s electoral fraud which is super illegal. 

Watch on phlogiston.tumblr.com

There is massive amounts crap going on with student politics at my uni, and a guy who used to be a student wrote this and fuck I think it’s amazing. Even if you just ignore the student political undertones I think the general message is one which rings so true. So yeah, this shit matters - why did you come to university? 

Why did you come to university?

a) to get a good job

b) because all my friends were doing it

c) to get drunk and or high, play sport slash video games and meet aesthetically pleasing members of whatever sex i’m attracted to. 

But what about d? The idea that maybe it might be nice to learn something once in a while ,god-forbid expand your mind find someone who disagrees with you and have a serious rational conversation about something other than fashion or football teams. University is supposed to be somewhere where people learn to think, instead we learn to drink and judge people by how they’re dressed, as though the test of a persons character is whether they can form instead of how they perform in cognitive colosseums. We’ve turned tute rooms into mausoleums, where new ideas go to die, crushed by a culture of doing the bare minimum.

Get the grades, get the job, get the money. Get the grades, get the job, get the money. As though getting wisdom ain’t worth the time, as though standing out is a crime, as though speaking out is uncool as though this shit doesn’t matter when it does.

This shit matters because right now power hungry wannabe politicians have hijacked student politics and lobotomised campus culture. This shit matters because it’s your money their spending, this shit matters because of the messages it’s sending, this shit matters because corruption is a slippery slope and if we let this side we have little hope, because the ropes woven today becomes the nooses of tomorrow and we chastise our state and federal politicians but where do you think they learned their dirty tricks in the first place?

A wise women once said that democracy isn’t taken all in one go. They do it slow, sowing weeds, seeds of corruption grow until one day you wake and find yourself asking how come is was allowed to happen, who is making these decisions, why is no one listening, why is no one listening, why is no one listening, why is no one listening.

A word to the wise - they stopped listening when you stopped caring. And yes I know there are so many things we’re told to care about but right now we need to care about this, because a culture which tells students they should care more about toga parties than the quality of their education is the first piece of a puzzled, passive, primitive population. This shit matters because mental stagnation is rapidly reducing our classrooms to criteria sheets, our campuses to advertising billboards and our degrees to scrap paper.

So why did you come to university?

The State of our Union

Ask most average Swansea students about their Students’ Union and I can almost guarantee they will have very little idea what it does or who is involved. 
Political apathy is rife.

…..so what DOES the Union do and who IS involved?

The answer to the latter point should be every student. We are all automatically a part of our Students’ Union and decisions made by it should benefit every student. Alas at the Student Forums held roughly every 3 weeks attendance is low and, in my opinion, far from represents the average student body; consisting mostly of political society committees, full-time (aka sabbatical) and part-time executive officers and wannabe executive officers (many attendees ticking more than one of these boxes).


A great supporter of widening participation within the SU, as it stands now I am not wholly surprised by the disinterest from students in Union goings on.

-Why is this? Do students really not care?-

Overheard on campus are various complaints; be it on the timing of their exams, the library, the prices in JCs and stock on offer - all of which could be raised to the Students’ Union.  To the more alert the Union appears to only exist for two weeks a year when the Sabbatical elections are in full swing and the walk from Singleton Park to Fulton house leaves the average student with a fistful of flyers, an awkwardly placed badge and let’s face it; a hell of a lot of confusion.

To outsiders  “Union people” are seen as a separate body- those who can be bothered to become involved as well as those who fancy themselves a career in politics and see the Students’ Union as a good CV filler and practise for campaigning.  From an inside perspective, it’s much worse.  What I had naively hoped was a collective of passionate activists genuinely wanting change for the better for students is instead a power struggle of aspirant politicians, complete with jargon and less than transparent policy.


Of course amongst this there are the few individuals with genuine concern for the Union and students' well-being, but their views are unfortunately overshadowed by the petty squabbles of political egoists and party activists. Motions at Student Forums are not understandable by the majority of students and generally passed easily based on the small turnout at meetings. 

Campaigns on occasion are successful (the likes of 2011’s Save Modern Foreign Languages campaign saw good student involvement and triumphed) yet the current academic years “Students not Consumers” rally failed to engage the student body with an unclear cause and target.  The Living Wage Campaign (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Swansea-University-Campaign-For-The-Living-Wage/313709175312287)  led by Labour Students sports a small committee and is yet to be launched to gain student interest, yet has great potential; only 202 members of staff are paid below Living Wage (what is deemed to be the minimum amount in order to provide a basic living, which based on a report by Loughborough University is around £7.20 and hour) and University of Kent and Manchester University have already successfully implemented this, but I already fear that the clear party politics behind this campaign will hinder its progress in a Union with openly party affiliated executive members.


Blog articles (eg. the recent by Labour Student, John Bayliss “http://johncbayliss.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/faking-and-hating-on-twitter/”)
and the numerous fake twitter accounts created mocking various students involved in the Students’ Union (@fudgeucation, @thebeccafront, @johncbaylols to name but a few) scatter my newsfeeds.  Such accounts are unknown to the majority of students, but for those starting to become involved with the Union are enough to deter involvement.  Speaking up for your views (whether left, right or centre) will inevitably face some criticism, but this is not political debate; this is personal disagreements and their online presence tarnishes the name of student politics and activism.

My message to the “Union”:
Focus on your ideas.   We have the potential to do so much and progress can be made if what is focused on is what is best for students.

Be remembered for what you have done and the changes you make, not forgotten as soon as the rumours and gossip become dull, as frankly we’re all getting bored.

Apathetic, in fact.

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