Marcus Fernihough (Left Action)
Hi, I’m Marcus Fernihough. I’m a socialist, activist and mature aged student studying fine art and history. I will be an Ordinary Representation Board Member in 2022.
The last 18 months has seen unprecedented attacks on our education at Curtin, through staff cuts, course cuts and attempts to implement more online learning in a permanent way. Left Action sees the Guild, and the National Union of Students (NUS), as bodies for mobilising students to fight attacks like these, both on campus and on a national level. The dangers of an inactive Guild were evident in 2020, with the university making $41 million in staff cuts while the Guild organised crafternoons, toga parties and a few student satisfaction surveys. Meanwhile, members of Left Action launched Curtin Student Fightback to build on-campus protests, coordinate with staff involved in their own fightback and engage students in defending their education.
Left Action wants to take this philosophy, student run and led campaigning, to the NUS, our most powerful resource for building any national fight. The current Guild leadership plan to hold a referendum on NUS affiliation. This is all but an admission that they have no interest in engaging in national campaigns to defend our education. We need to challenge the wave of cuts coming from university Vice Chancellors around the country, and fight the Liberal government who are on a warpath towards erasing the humanities and turning higher education into for-profit degree factories for mining companies.
Left Action sees the Guild and the NUS as a platform for building and leading anti-racist campaigns on campus. Our members have been involved organising on and off-campus refugee rights rallies, including the recent Palestinian and Tamil refugee rights protests. Between the pandemic, climate crisis and recent developments in Afghanistan, the question of refugees is critical. The National Union of Students should use its resources to organise students behind the campaign to save the Murrugupan family from deportation, and to demand the Australian government let in more Afghan refugees. It should be waging a hard fight against Morrison and Berejiklian whose plans to “live with the virus” are already seeing disproportionate covid cases and deaths amongst Aboriginal communities. These sorts of campaigns will only be built by serious, experienced activists, like Left Action, who see students as a key element of the fight against racism.