student organizing council

Let’s Start A Union for Students

Schools are run to produce workers. Whatever other positive purpose might be fostered at schools and colleges, it is constantly undermined by the imperatives of finding a career and achieving “success.”

School is work training, but it has the potential to be more than that. Through social organization and struggle, schools can become sites of community care and social transformation. Many education workers their unions wages long fights for the betterment of education.

In our capitalist economy, only a few will enjoy real “success,” and the rest of us will be lucky to even afford a decent life. The deck is already stacked by generational wealth. Education is empowering, but capitalism ensures that our educational achievements will be less valuable on the market as more people achieve them.

Although it remains technically possible to “win” this rigged game without breaking the rules, that ideal is just the carrot dangled in front of students to keep us hustling and not really thinking about our situation. If organizing to demand a better society isn’t part of what we’re learning, then we really are just doing unpaid work training.

Students are often less well-organized than teachers and other educational staff, but this can change. There are exceptions, such as the powerful student movements in places like Chile and Quebec.

However, constant student-body turnover, not to mention our classwork, makes it difficult to sustain long-term campus struggles in a way that can pass on valuable lessons and grow stronger over time.

Here are our tentative proposals to overcome this and other obstacles:

  • Using our IWW branch’s resources to grant student organizers access to free printing, event space, and other useful movement infrastructure in order to break our dependance on the campus bureaucracy for such necessities.
  • Recognizing that the most powerful possible form of leverage for students to change our social conditions is a general student strike. As such, we will seek to organize with this capacity goal in mind, but without seeking to initiate such a strike pre-maturely.
  • Focusing on actions and events rather than meetings. We are busy. Meetings will arise as needed as actions proceed, but a meetings-first approach all too often accomplishes nothing.
  • Not getting preoccupied by crafting formal structure before the need for it arises, but also not hesitating to create structure once the need does arise.
  • Recognizing that struggles against bigotry and misogyny are rightfully prominent on today’s college campuses, and that forging solidarity through these struggles are pre-conditional to, not a “distraction from,” wider solidarity.
  • Prioritizing learning about powerful student movements around the world and how they operate. We have a lot to learn from them.
  • Focusing on distributing info where our groups are still small.
  • An intersectional approach that allows us to have solidarity across all demographics, and see the value and validity in everyone’s experience without the usual basis against marginalized groups.
  • An inter-sectoral approach that allows us to maintain practical solidarity around “other issues” like housing and police brutality.
  • An internationalist approach that values learning about and standing in solidarity with radical struggles around the world, and actively seeks to include undocumented and international students.
  • Not letting the academy soften our radicalism into mere discourse, but also not taking actions that are uninformed by valuable organizing lessons from movement history.