Candidates’ election statements
for the Sheffield Student Union elections 2007
Communist Student for president!
As a member of Communist Students and the CPGB, I will fight to ensure that Sheffield University is run and controlled by its students and staff. I will seek to create a fighting and politically active Student Union that takes up the fight for free education seriously – rather than the politically bankrupt strategy of arguing to “keep the cap” and looking to merely lobby our MPs. I will ensure that the University takes the lead in the fight against sexism, racism and the destruction of our planet. To this end, I would also like to create a weekly, radical Union publication to promote revolutionary political consciousness and increase awareness of socio-political issues on campus.
Candidates calling for separate waste bins and solar panels undoubtedly have good intentions and these should be supported, but we need to have a much bigger vision if we want to actually tackle the cause of the destruction of our planet – capitalism – where production is based not on human need but the vampire-esque need of capital to suck wealth from the working majority of the world’s population.
Socialism has nothing to do with Stalin’s reign. That is the opposite of socialism. Socialism and democracy are inseparable. Our fight for socialism therefore means arguing for radical democracy now. Our fight back must be open and democratic. I will fight to overcome left sectarianism and the bureaucratic and anti-democratic nature that unfortunately characterises the revolutionary movement today – weakening our ability to fight back.
Carey Davies (education)
As a member of Communist Students I stand for radical transformation throughout the entire education system so that both students and staff participate cooperatively and democratically in the learning process.
For the most part, the purpose of university education is to provide capitalism with new generations of technocrats and passive office dolts. This is reflected in the way University affairs are conducted. Control begins in the Treasury. This control is exercised by the upper ranks of the University hierarchy. Through the apparatus of the Union, students are occasionally consulted on points of detail – but at most, this amounts to tinkering with the system which is already in place. If University education is ever to provide students with a worthwhile, fully-rounded experience, this system itself must be challenged.
For a critical university, and an end to the subordination of academic disciplines to the needs and requirements of capitalism. As they are currently taught, many subjects take capitalism as a system for granted, and rarely allow for the suggestion that another form of society is possible.
For the direct democratic participation of students and staff in the affairs of the University.
For their abolition where appropriate, and for the introduction of more humane, effective methods of assessment and learning. By and large, examinations are detrimental to both students and staff. Besides being an utterly arbitrary way of assessing students, they produce unnecessary stress and misery.
Laurie Smith (finance)
As a member of Communist Students, I believe that a democratically planned economy is necessary to overcome the inhuman anarchy of capitalist production. I would involve other students as much as possible in the formulation of the Union’s economic decisions, and fight to open the books to increased scrutiny and accountability so that every student knows how our money is spent. I would ensure that the union offers best possible value for students, whilst expanding support for the fair trade and unionised worker’s movements. Sheffield Union is already one of the best in the country – I aim to make it even better entertainment-wise, and to turn it into a fighting union that will inform students honestly and stand up with them to fight for our interests.
As well as the Union budget, the Finance Officer is charged with representing student’s financial interests generally. The current NUS leadership has caved in over top-up fees, and now meekly call for a cap on the amount that can be charged. The rich get richer, but students are paying more and more for their education. We say: Scrap all tuition fees and bring back non-repayable grants instead of burdensome loans. Ultimately, we aim for a world where everyone has access to as much education as they desire, not where it is rationed according to the needs of the capitalist job market.
If capitalism can’t afford a decent education for all, we say we can’t afford capitalism!
David Sabbagh (welfare)
As a member of Communist Students I believe that student welfare must be seen in the light of wider political questions that dictate every aspect of society. Under capitalism, students are saddled with huge debts, at the mercy of private landlords, and often forced to work low-paid and demeaning jobs.
Students need time to think, argue, experiment and enjoy education. This presupposes challenging the capitalist system – whether this be on campus; fighting for a living wage; opposing imperialist wars around the world, or the laws which dictate at what age we can have sex and which drugs will land us in jail.
Capitalism will never willingly give the working class, including students, what we actually need to live fulfilling lives. We need to fight for these things in a revolutionary manner, and not limit ourselves to the flawed and unsuccessful NUS tactics of pleading for pitiful concessions from our imperialist government.
Student welfare should be based on what students actually need and not on what capitalists tell us they can afford. Education and housing should be free and socialised and students should receive grants, which in modern Britain would amount to at least £300 per
week. This is only part of the struggle for a society based on the principle of human need and not profit. In order to do this, students must not solely focus upon their sectional interests but take a lead in the struggle for a better, socialist world.
Jamie Tedford (activities)
As a member of Communist Students I believe that university life, as a reflection of society as a whole, should be able to provide a varied and fulfilling experience for all. This can only be achieved by fighting for revolutionary change in our universities and in all spheres of life.
As a socialist I believe in democracy from below and as activities officer I will strive for more choice of activities and funding through the transfer of power from the union bureaucrats to the students themselves.
As well as campaigning for greater opportunities for self-development, I will promote increased political awareness and student activity – fighting for free education, for women’s equality, open borders and against racism, homophobia and Islamophobia.
It is also time for students to take a lead in the international struggle against imperialism via a progressive involvement and solidarity with working class movements worldwide such as the
Hands Off the People Of Iran campaign (www.hopoi.org). Student activities should be aimed at highlighting that a capitalist, profit driven economy is in contradiction to a society that promotes peace and ecological sustainability.
Socialism represents the victory in the battle for democracy and greater individual freedom through social cooperation and understanding. I believe that students have an important role to play in its realisation.
David Sabbagh (NUS delegate)
As a member of Communist Students I believe there should be democracy in all spheres of life.
Student struggles cannot be separated from fighting the occupation of Iraq, the pseudo-democratic constitutional monarchy, and the MI5 surveillance of our campuses.
The NUS must provide radical leadership in these and other working-class, democratic struggles at home and abroad. I will fight for a grant set at a level which students actually need to live a rounded life. In today’s Britain this would be at least £300 per week.
If capitalism can’t afford this, we can’t afford capitalism!
Communist Student for NUS delegate
As a member of Communist Students and the CPGB I will fight to transform the bureaucratic NUS – for too long a vehicle for careerist politicians – into one that fights for revolutionary change.
Capitalism’s inherent thirst for profit breeds poverty, war and pollution. Socialism and mass, working-class democracy are inseparable – otherwise socialism becomes its opposite, such as in the barbaric experience of Stalinism.
Education should be run by the students and staff, not by companies and bureaucrats interested only in creating a new generation of exploitable office-dolts. It should be geared towards what is increasingly necessary:
Changing the world!