From September 2013, the students of Sheffield University will be creating a network of departmental assemblies as a space for democratic participation and political action. Implementation is still in its early stages, but the assemblies will exist in every department and will be federated together on a directly democratic basis. They will have full decision making power over themselves and will give students the chance to experience and advance a radically new form of student organisation in the UK. It is a form that is uniquely suited to combating the torrent of attacks on students in recent years, a form that is a loud and serious response to the alienation, isolation and oppression of the neoliberal system which we all find ourselves in.
We have had enough of the betrayals of our ‘leaders’ as they leap at opportunities to advance their own political careers. We have had enough of the futile demonstrations they call to appease us, always stage managing them with the police to ensure demonstrations remain utterly ineffective and always quick to denounce any student action that goes beyond our assigned role as sheep. Most of all, we have had enough of an educational system in which we play the role of turkey’s being fattened for the tables of private businesses. It is an economy in which we labour for scraps of what we produce without any control over our work or our lives.
Against alienation, assemblies offer empowerment, against isolation, community. Against oppression they offer a platform for creating independent alternatives by students for students and the communities which we are a part of. The fight is not in Kennington Park, it is not on the NUS’s answer machine or in the smiles and nods of politicians. It is in the actions which we decide and take on our campuses, in our departments and in our communities.
In Sheffield we are ready to create something new. For those as disillusioned with the present situation and as desperate for alternatives as ourselves, lets work together.