Students in Leeds have a lot to be angry about: 9k fees, youth employment over a million and a government with no intention of changing course on austerity, whatever the consequences for students and young people. Despite this, there seems to be a growing feeling that these changes are inevitable, which has meant reluctance on the part of many students to stand up to the government because they feel their voice won’t be heard. The coalition has put the future of our entire generation at risk. Jobs are difficult to come by, students are burdened with unprecedented levels of debt, and it’s becoming increasingly hard for young people to get onto the property ladder; it’s easy for us to feel despondent. However, I, like so many others, believe this is something we not only shouldn’t stand for but is something we cannot afford to tolerate.
So what can we do? The upcoming demonstration ‘Demo 2012: Educate, Employ, Empower’, which takes place on November 21, has been organised by the National Union of Students (NUS) to demonstrate that we are not ready to give up the fight. We can join this demonstration and show political parties across the spectrum that the tripling of tuition fees, discredited austerity measures and mass youth unemployment will not be forgotten by this generation, and will not be forgotten in 2015 when we go to the ballot boxes and vote for a new government. We should join NUS in demanding for an education system that is accessible to anyone with the potential or ambition. We should join NUS in demonstrating about youth unemployment which has climbed to over 1 million and threatens to leave permanent and deep seated scars on our society and our economy. We should join the NUS because the student movement was built on the value of democracy, equality and collectivism. It’s time for us to build on those values by standing together on the streets on London.
In 2010 hoards of students took to the streets of our major cities in protest of the government’s proposals to triple tuition fees. These student demonstrations set the precedent for further protest against cuts which mobilised people from all walks of life who were affected by the cuts. We paved the way for larger scale protests to defend not just education but all of our public services, and we can do that again.
Of course, every time people take to the streets to march or protest on any issue, questions about actual effectiveness of the action will always be asked. To those critics I say this; change won’t happen if we choose to do nothing. The march is not the be all and end all of our strategy, nor should it be. It’s simply the most effective way we can show the government that these issues matter to many people, before we move on to lobbying decision makers and winning over other groups to our cause.
These issues matter, and we must do what we can to try and bring about change. Our Union is putting on coaches to take people down to London the day of demo. If you want to send a clear message to this government, I’d urge you to join thousands of students from across the country in marching through central London this November.
By Alice Smart
For more information about Demo 2012 : luu.org.uk/demo