Thursday, 17 March 2011

A setback for the student movement, but the fight continues

Speaking at Coalition of Resistance conference
Clare Solomon has, sadly, not been re-elected president of University of London Union (ULU). During her year in the post, Clare has played a leading and dynamic role in the student protest movement which emerged in opposition to higher tuition fees and drastic cuts to higher education funding.

More optimistically, left-wing candidates Sean Rillo Raczka and Hesham Kazai were elected Vice President and London Student editor respectively. These are the other two full-time roles in overseeing the London-wide union.

SOAS postgraduate Feyzi Ismail wrote earlier this week: 'If the student movement has any chance of reigniting in the future and becoming a major force in the wider fight against austerity, then Clare Solomon must be re-elected.'

Clare's defeat will be a setback for the student movement in London. As ULU president, she has embodied the idea that student unions can be more than just service providers - they can be serious campaigning bodies, actively involving students and amplifying their voices in the struggle for the future of our universities.

As a member of the Coalition of Resistance steering committee, who has spoken on various anti-cuts platforms, Clare also remains a vital link between student protest and the wider efforts to build a unified, national and militant anti-austerity movement. With UCU preparing for a national strike in defence of lecturers' pensions, unity in action between students and lecturers is especially important.

Clare lost out to Queen Mary student union's president Vratislav Vraj Domalip, who has little track record of campaigning against cuts and higher fees, after a week of online voting which closed yesterday. The result wasn't announced until just after 6pm today.

Look out for an extended interview with Clare in this Saturday's Guardian. The book she edited, 'Springtime: The New Student Rebellions', is out now.

Update: I gather Clare lost by around 100 votes out of over 2000 votes cast. A number of socialists and anti-cuts activists were elected as ULU Trustees (which follows the recent election of left-wing candidates to key roles in a number of London student unions).

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