A Leeds uni student reports…
Leeds is facing more cuts than any university in the country. A core of students have a campaign well under way, and have been working closely with staff in the process. Progress is being made, and awareness on campus is growing. However, as we have 31,000 students, we need to get far more many people on board to be a body that will be listened to.
In response to rumours being circulated that staff were “recruiting students”, we organised an independent student protest in front of our student union in early November. This lead to getting 300 signatures on a petition that we handed in to the Vice-Chancellor alongside UCU, who handed in 1000 signatures. This was part of a combined protest of about 300 staff and students outside the University Council meeting to decide on cuts. Sadly they still did not listen, but this has only fuelled the campaign.
Immediately after this, Leeds University Against Cuts was formed. This is a group set up by students but is for everyone against cuts to get involved. We have run stalls outside the Union, got petitions signed, been vocal at Question and Answer sessions, and have emailed members of the University Council and the LUU (Leeds Uni Union) We have made visual demonstrations such as standing outside the student union, gagged, with a sign saying LUU speak for us, marched around campus with banners giving speeches, and organised protests. We have featured on student radio, TV and in the student newspaper. Next semester we will continue to have regular meetings take a motion to our Student Union to mandate their support, and actively support staff that go on strike – I believe the strength of Leeds campaign is strong ties with our UCU branch.
Now that the ball is rolling on the anti-cuts movement and structures are in place, the focus needs to be on getting more students involved. Increasing numbers are becoming aware of the threats that face them. The next step is getting them to do something about it.