Clare Solomon, one of the student movement's leading activists, is seeking re-election as president of University of London Union (ULU). Elected last March, the former SOAS student has used the role to spearhead resistance to the coalition government's attack on higher education and students.
ULU has not traditionally been known for protests and political campaigns. Yet in the autumn and winter of 2010 the mega-union, encompassing a wide range of London colleges, was central to launching and co-ordinating the protests against higher tuition fees and university cuts. ULU called the march to parliament on 9 December - day of the Commons vote on fees increases - which attracted at least 30,000 university, college and school students.
The National Union of Students (NUS), led by Aaron Porter, meanwhile held a 'glowstick vigil' attended by only 200 people. The contrast between the dynamism and mass participation of the ULU-initiated demonstration and the official NUS event was one source of the widespread dissatisfaction of students with the current NUS leadership.
It also illustrated what ULU - Europe's largest student union, representing over 100,000 students - can achieve with effective leadership which articulates grassroots demands.
Clare was also a prominent voice in support of the occupations which swept campuses across the country, including in London, speaking on numerous platforms and in the media to express enthusiastic support for direct action by students. As a participant in the mass direct action at the Tories' Millbank HQ on 10 November, she defended - on BBC2's Newsnight and elsewhere - students' right to take militant action.
"I’m proud of the role ULU played in helping pull together the biggest student movement for a generation. ULU helped support occupations and demonstrations across the city, becoming a powerful voice for students in London and beyond. That’s a voice we will need over the coming year as education faces exceptionally tough times."
Clare is also on the steering committee of Coalition of Resistance, helping strengthen links between students, trade unionists and campaigners to resist the Tory-led onslaught on public services and welfare. Speaking to over 1000 people at November's Coalition of Resistance conference, she said students had "turned this movement around" and inspired wider resistance to cuts.
Standing on a platform of commitment to high-profile, active mobilisations against education cuts, Clare recognises the battle for higher education is far from over. In just one year, ULU has been transformed into a campaigning body widely known for mass activity and solidarity. Clare continues to embody that transformation, having dedicated herself to making it happen.
Students and supporters across the capital are urged to help ensure a fighting left-wing activist is re-elected to this vital post in the movement.
How to vote
Voting is online from 9-16 March, for more info on voting go to this site: http://ulucampaigner.wordpress.com/how-to-vote/
If you can help the campaign to re-elect Clare as president, phone 07950 735 390
Or see this web page: http://ulucampaigner.wordpress.com/get-involved/