With the government's decision to introduce third level fees expected within two months, the student campaign against fees, Free education for Everyone (FEE) is stepping up its campaign across the country.
A crucial step is fighting to build genuine campaigning students' unions capable of leading a mass movement to defeat the government's threat. In UCD, FEE is standing a slate of three candidates for sabbatical office in the Students' Union as well as running a referendum committing the union to serious action against fees.
Explaining why FEE has taken this next step, Presidential candidate, Julian Brophy said:
"We are facing an onslaught of attacks on education by this government. To defeat fees and cutbacks, we need campaigning democratic students' unions that don't just posture at being opposed to fees, but really try to organise a mass movement to force the government back."
Ben McCormack, the FEE candidate for education Officer continued:
"The FEE candidates stand for a radically new approach for the Students' Union. Instead of lobbying to try to change the government's mind, if elected, we will use the resources and authority of the union to seriously mobilise mass opposition to the government's attacks on our right to an education. In that way, we can defeat fees and cutbacks."
The FEE candidates (Julian Brophy standing for President, Ciaran Fitzgerald for Campaigns & Communications and Ben McCormack for education) are standing together to try to maximise the vote for FEE candidates committed to a serious approach to tackle fees and cutbacks and to build the FEE campaign.
Together with the election campaigns, FEE is also running a referendum campaign. The campaign has collected over 1,000 signatures for a policy referendum committing the Students' Union to a serious campaigning approach to defeat fees and to organise a one day shut down of the college in advance of the scheduled discussion at cabinet to decide on fees in April. The vote on this issue will take place on the same date as the SU elections.
Ciaran Fitzgerald, the FEE candidate for Campaigns and Communications commented:
"Over 15,000 students protested on 4 February against the re-introduction of fees, yet the government is continuing to indicate that they are still on the agenda. We have to organise to shut down the third level education sector across the country, in conjunction with the college staff and their unions before the government decides on fees. This will serve as a powerful warning of the movement that will face them if they proceed."
Free education for Everyone (FEE) is an active campaign against fees that strives to organise second and third level students across the country. It is currently organised in UCD, Trinity, Maynooth, NUIG, UCC and UL. FEE has organised a series of protests, blockades and occupations against fees.