Erin Russell (Left Action)
Hey, I’m Erin Russell. I’m a socialist and long-time activist, studying history and art theory. This year I’m running with Left Action for humanities representative.
Left Action sees the Guild and National Union of Students (NUS) as activist bodies. Now more than ever, we need these bodies to lead a serious fightback against historic attacks on our education. We’ve seen huge funding cuts and fee hikes under the Liberals including the doubling in the cost of humanities degrees. Vice Chancellors around the country are overseeing mass staff sackings and course cuts. Here at Curtin, we experienced $41 million in staff cuts last year. Now we face chronic understaffing and the threat of more online learning and trimesters.
The National Union of Students has been missing in action in response to these attacks. The NUS Education Officer has not organised the sort of campaign that we need to fight back. In 2014, Left Action held the education office and organised a mass, activist campaign that defeated the Liberals’ attempts to allow degree costs to skyrocket. This is what needs to happen now, and it is only Left Action who are up for the job. Staff and students have pushed back against Curtin’s move towards increased online learning for now, but we can’t rest on our laurels and simply rely on surveys. The Guild needs to keep fighting against ongoing issues like staff shortages and attacks on PhD students’ rights to take leave.
NUS and the Curtin Guild should also be fighting for LGBTIQ+ people under this Liberal government. The Liberals are still trying to push through the religious discrimination bill, which would allow religious schools to sack staff and students for their sexual and gender identity. Again, NUS and the Guild have been missing in action. While Left Action student activists around the country have waged a serious campaign to stop this bill, the NUS LGBTI Officer has been notably absent. We need more Left Action activists in NUS to defend LGBTIQ+ people in an ongoing way.
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