Labour Student Rep Update

The past few months have been a whirlwind, before we head into the new academic year, here is an update on everything we have been up to so far, from rent strikes, to political education, Palestine solidarity and Young Labour.

Firstly, we want to say a big thank you to outgoing student organisers, Labour Club committees and many more who have organised tirelessly on their campuses for socialism over what has been a very difficult year. We would also like to welcome incoming students and we look forward to supporting you however we can in our fight for free education and socialism.

As the new academic year begins at institutions across the country we’ll be working to send more regular emails with resources, advice and support on the issues on campus. We’ll be sending out another newsletter soon about the creation of a new student structure within the Party and support available for Labour Clubs from us this year. If there’s anything you’d like us to cover in these updates - from campaigns on your campus to socialist perspectives on the issues facing the student and labour movements - let us know.

Many students this year will be frustrated at the continuation of online teaching at many institutions, but it’s critical that we organise to ensure this frustration is not directed against staff, but into the demand for a free, accessible and liberated higher education system. We’ll be sending out more resources to help student organisers do this in the future.

Student Rent Strikes

This year we’ve seen a wave of student rent strikes unprecedented for over four decades. As reps we’ve been organising with our own university strikes and in the national rent strike network, speaking alongside Zarah Sultana MP, Jo Grady, Larissa Kennedy and more at the rent strike national rally. We’ve produced a guide to starting up a rent strike collating information from various strikes, pushed for the Labour Party to back the strikes and offer a socialist vision for public student housing.

Student activists at universities across the country and those involved in the national network have worked incredibly hard to cohere and maintain the momentum of the strikes. We may not have won all our demands but students at Manchester, Bristol and many other places forced universities into giving substantial rebates and the government to increase hardship support for students. These gains might be far from the student housing system we want to see, but they’re victories nonetheless that build experience and confidence to build tenants’ class power.

We don’t need landlords, landlords need us and rent strikes prove it. When we organise collectively we have the power to reset the terms of our contracts, and when enough of us organise we have the power to remake the housing system to meet needs by abolishing landlordism. You can read our article in Tribune about the rent strikes and how crucial this organising is to undermine our marketised higher education system here.

Meetings with shadow ministers

Following our open letter demanding Labour back the strikes we met with Thangam Debbonaire MP in her capacity as Shadow Housing Secretary and later Emma Hardy as Shadow Minister for Further Education and Universities to discuss the rent strikes and Labour’s plans for higher education post-marketisation.

Alongside strikers from Bristol and Manchester, we urged them to loudly and publicly back the strikes, taking the opportunity to take on landlords and developers with a socialist vision for a public and democratic higher education system with comfortable and affordable student housing provided for all as a right.

We hope to continue conversations with new shadow ministers about the issues facing students this academic year, the crisis of student housing, mental health and livelihoods, and the urgent need for the Party to articulate a vision of free education that offers real solutions to them.

Student organising school

In April we partnered with the National Rent Strike Network, The World Transformed, NUS, and other student groups to host a free online organising school targeted at student organisers and particularly those involved in the strike this year. We worked on a number of incredible events as part of this from the history of marketisation to decolonising the university, unionising student workers and more.

The school saw over 250 attend and we hope to make the event plan templates available to facilitate organisers across the country to run their own sessions.

We’re looking forward to running more sessions and discussions at TWT’s conference this September in Brighton so keep an eye out for further announcements! You can get your tickets to TWT here. If you can’t afford the tickets you can email with ‘Free ticket’ in the subject line to request a free ticket.

Solidarity with Palestine

This year saw the largest Palestine solidarity demonstration in British history as Palestinians across historic Palestine rose up against the latest episode in Sheikh Jarrah, at al Al-Aqsa mosque and across historic Palestine of the ongoing Nakba - the ethnic cleansing and dispossession of the Palestinian people from their homeland. Universities across the UK remain invested in this process, refusing to abide by the demand from Palestinian civil society to boycott divest and sanction Israeli apartheid.

Our institutions are standing on the wrong side of history and it is our responsibility as socialists to demand divestment and solidarity with the Palestinian people from our universities and in all our organising spaces. The struggle of the Palestinian people for liberation from Israel’s settler-colonialism must be our struggle as socialists.

Earlier this year we organised blocs at Palestine solidarity demonstrations organised by Apartheid Off-Campus and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. As the largest ever mobilisations in solidarity with Palestine in British history, we were proud to participate and believe that it’s the responsibility of the student and labour movements to stand with the Palestine solidarity movement.

Reach out to your Universities Palestine society to see what you can do to fight Israeli apartheid on your campus.

This weekend Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th September we’ll be joining the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Youth and Student summer school in London. You can sign-up for it here and let us know or drop Fraser a message if you’re planning to join.

Defending Young Labour’s autonomy

Since the election of the Young Labour National Committee last year we’ve faced obstruction from the Labour leadership and Party HQ.

Per the Labour Party Rulebook, the Party has a duty to deliver a Young Labour conference for Young Labour members to meet and vote on rule changes to sent to Annual Conferenceand decide Young Labour Policy. Disgracefully not only has this been cancelled, but the Party has obstructed our planned events at Annual Conference, including a shameful ban on speakers from the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

Please sign our petition here to demand a democratic and autonomous Young Labour with a committee free to deliver on its socialist mandate.

We’ll be sending more updates and resources for student organisers to make use of over the coming year - make sure your comrades are signed up to the newsletter here to receive them.

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Young Labour Student Reps · 2 Melbourne Road · Coventry, West Midlands CV5 6JP · United Kingdom

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