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Student elections at the Free University of Berlin: Raise your voice against war!

The following piece is on the platform of the Revolutionary Communist Youth (RKG) at the Free University of Berlin. In a political moment in which young people and college students around the world–from University of Missouri to Brazil–are organizing, students must learn from and about each others’ struggles. This piece aims to contribute to the conversation about student struggles.

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On January 12-14, elections to the student parliament will take place at the Free University of Berlin. The Revolutionary Communist Youth (RKJ) is participating under List 35 to bring a revolutionary Marxist voice into the “Stupa.” For this, we need your vote!

Why the RKJ?

The RKJ emerged from the revolutionary Marxist group “Weapons of Criticism” (Waffen der Kritik), which was able to win a seat in the last three elections. What did we do with this seat? We invited students to open meetings where we could work out resolutions on various struggles at universities in Germany and internationally. We declared our solidarity with the fighting students in Chile and the 43 students who were disappeared in Ayotzinapa, Mexico. At teach-ins in the foyer in front of the cafeteria, we drew students’ attention to these struggles and fostered solidarity.

In addition to the internationalist unity of the exploited and oppressed, we fight for the unity of workers and students. This is expressed in our support for various workers’ struggles, such as the strikes at Amazon. With our support for strikes, we are also fighting for our own future working conditions. This is particularly evident when we fight as students of the Free University against precarious working conditions at the university. We are all affected by this: the technical workers, the cleaning staff, the science lab assistants, the lecturers and teachers assistants.

A voice for better working conditions today and tomorrow

Just before Christmas, 31 workers at the on-campus Botanical Gardens were going to be fired because the university’s management wanted to save money by outsourcing those jobs. But the layoffs could be averted, at least for now, because a dozen of the affected workers as well as up to 40 students protested at the FU’s board meeting. In addition, we organized a photo campaign in which students from the Spanish State, Mexico, Munich, Potsdam and Berlin expressed solidarity with the workers. This solidarity has been very well received by the workers.

But the attacks on the workers at the Botanical Garden continue this year. This attempt at outsourcing can only be defeated by the workers themselves – by disrupting board meetings, public actions at the university and strikes by all employees with support from the students. The actions so far have shown that it is worthwhile for workers and students to struggle side by side. Together, we must fight for a university in the interests of all the exploited.

A voice for access to the university for refugees

In October, more than 400 students participated in a General Assembly (VV) to demand free and unrestricted access to the university for refugees. The Academic Senate (AS) simply ignored the will of the students and even ridiculed it. Since then, an open assembly has been formed to organize actions until the Academic Senate accepts these demands. We are part of this assembly. For us, “Refugees Welcome” means that all refugees should have full democratic rights. To this end, we interfere with the meetings of the Academic Senate, to remind them – via creative interventions – that the biggest General Assembly in many years decided that the vacant houses owned by the Free University should be made available as refugee centers. Holding regular assemblies is a first step in the direction of mass student democracy. We can’t fight for the interests of refugees and students in the swamp of official “representative” bodies. We need open assemblies and mass actions–students, refugees and workers fighting together. We need to topple the rule of the few at the university and establish a university in the interests of all the oppressed.

A voice against war

In early December, the German government decided to intervene militarily in the war in Syria. Since then, the Bundeswehr has increased its recruitment campaigns among students and youth. We are against this war, because the “fight against ISIS” does not eliminate this terror but rather strengthen it. The Bundeswehr mission will rain down more misery and death across the Middle East, as the experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown. Therefore, expressing solidarity with the victims of the Paris attacks means fighting against German and French imperialism, who with their military interventions create the foundations of terror. We want to create an anti-war campaign so that our future does not end on the battlefields.

A voice against sexism, homophobia and transphobia

It is an illusion to believe that the university could be free from the influences of today’s sexist society. For example, only 20 percent of professors are women–even though slightly more than half of the students are female. Women’s oppression is not limited to the “upper floors” of the university: it is even more prominent in the precarious sectors of the FU such as cleaners (who are often affected by racism) and the language teachers. Here, a majority of employees are female and thus suffer doubly and triply from exploitation and oppression: with less pay and worse working conditions.

Every day, women and LGBTI* people are exposed to many forms of sexist, homophobic or transphobic oppression, including insults, “jokes” and homo and transphobic advertising. Fighting against this means drawing attention to oppression and reflecting on our own role. In reading groups and workshops we work to also develop a strategy for class-struggle feminism to fight against this oppression: By supporting the self-organization of women and LGBTI* people and fighting side by side with the working class. We want to make our opposition to sexism, homophobia and transphobia visible at the university.

Hohvannes (22, Jura), Theresa 19, Kunstgeschichte), Yunus (20VWL)

Original statement published in Klasse Gegen Klasse.

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