Recognising our Victories

This is a personal blog by Leffe Melon-Kholi, and is not an official WFFE statement.

One of the demands of the PPU Warwick occupation two years ago was that Nigel Thrift publicly oppose the Russell group stance supporting 16k fees. When we held a sit in on December 3rd, the same sit in that was attacked with CS gas and tasers, that was also our demand – if Nigel wasn’t going to support the democratic opinion of students (which is for free education) then he at least shouldn’t be actively lobbying against it.

Now, after everything that has happened, he has come out and said it. This is not a huge victory of earth shattering proportions. It is a small step, showing that our tactics work and student pressure can force the university to change.They claim they won’t negotiate with us, and they try and obscure our victories, but there is definite movement in the management stance. The SU is discussing a code of conduct – one of the demands of last term’s occupation – with uni management. We have so much yet to win, but it’s important we recognise what we have achieved so far.

The full interview can be found here.

Q: If you were a prospective student facing £9,000 fees, would you study or go out to work?

A; All the evidence shows that going to university works for most people most of the time. But I think that we shouldn’t put fees any higher, allowing for inflation. There are issues of intergenerational justice that need to be faced.

Similarly, the labour party has today been talking about lowering tuition fees and introducing a graduate tax. As Hattie Craig – one of the students named on Warwick’s anti-occupation injunction – said: “In a year where the student movement has reignited the fight for free education, Labour is cynically latching on to the clear want for a different funding system. However, it is not the funding system that we are asking for: we will not stop until we win free education, funded not by a graduate tax but by progressive taxation.”

We have to push on from these small changes in direction. They indicate the start of a process, not its completion. That is why NCAFC is challenging the Labour party to do better – much, much better – and why WFFE will continue fighting on Warwick campus.

The movement is living, breathing – and winning. Let’s not forget that, as we continue the campaign through the months ahead.

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