In Late January F.E.E.(Free Education for Everyone) decided to run candidates for the UCD Students’ Union elections in order to ensure that next year’s union leadership is more committed to building a mass movement to fight fees than this year’s.
By Rita Harrold, Socialist Youth UCD
Socialist Youth members have played a leading role in F.E.E. since its formation in September 2008. Socialist Youth member Ben McCormack is running for Education Officer along with two other F.E.E. candidates, Julian Brophy for President and Ciarán Fitzgerald for Campaigns and Communications Officer.
F.E.E. decided to run candidates in order to improve the union. The main issue for the F.E.E. candidates is obviously the proposed re-introduction of college fees but they all also have their own individual issues and want a more transparent student union. These issues include fighting against privatisation of UCD as a whole, scrapping the idea of residence gates and getting rid of the security company on campus that has been accused of attacking students and being unnecessarily harsh on rule breakers.
Members of F.E.E. have been involved in protests, occupations, blockades and awareness promotion by producing 20,000 leaflets to publicise the U.S.I. February 4th demonstration. F.E.E. want to commit the Students’ Union in UCD to this type of effective mass campaigning to fight fees.
The elections are not the only way that UCD F.E.E. has been doing this. F.E.E. has also arranged a referendum on the Union’s approach to fighting fees. This referendum if passed will commit the UCDSU to building a mass movement to fight fees and holding a one day shutdown of UCD to send a clear message to the government about how serious students are about the fight against fees.
The campaign so far has been getting a good response. Students are unaware of the type of effort it will take to defeat fees but this is starting to change with this referendum campaign. This is the first event planned by F.E.E. that may actually have an effect on the decision makers of this government that wants to make students and the working class pay for the crisis that they have caused. The Union would also be committed to working with staff unions in UCD and get them to join in and support the shutdown. The shutdown will be scheduled if passed for late March or early April as a warning to the government ahead of the planned proposal on fees to be brought by Batt O’Keeffe. There is currently no No campaign against this referendum and it is therefore likely that it will pass.