Student RESPECT conference
Student RESPECT conference today saw over 100 delegates come together to discuss how to fight against, war, racism, climate change and neo-liberalism in education for the first time. Not only were all the workshops full but the make up of the conference was much wider then the membership of SR’s founding organisations like SWSS. Respect’s work in both the “activist field” of campaigns like Stop the War and the work our militants did in shaping a sizeable chunk of the NUS education campaign has started to show through. For the first time SR is starting to live up to its stated aim of being an activist organisation that can make the leap to providing a viable alternative leadership to the student movement. The work of building SR and the NUS education campaign has placed us in genuinely new territory.
The conference was particularly clear (unsurprisingly perhaps) on the issue of the racist backlash on our campuses. Universities are feeling the brunt of the government’s ideological offensive against Muslim groups as the “enemy within” and to resist it we need to sharpen up a wider section of the anti-war movement to win the key arguments. Our general meeting of up to 500 on the issue in Manchester is probably only the first arena where the arguments will be had out in NUS. Key debates in this years conference are shaping up to be Islamophobia (through the issue of Hizb ut-tahir), politicising the education campaign, and the right attempting to reform politics out of NUS. With the a-political/ rightwing shambles that is NUS – the activist lead Student Respect conference was a pleasant change of scene.