Yesterday, on Valentine’s day, Casual Leiden organised an national day of action, alongside the national networks Casual Academy, 0.7, and WoinActie. “The university won’t love you back”, it was called and it was the first moment in the new cycle of struggles against flex contracts for university staff. There was a demonstration outside the Leiden Faculty of Social Sciences, with several speeches and collective singing. Doorbraak and xCC joined the protest to show our solidarity. Here’s the stirring speech by two members of xCC.
We are from the xCC, a radical, intersectional, anticapitalist group of mostly students. Among other things, we are involved in struggles within and against the university. We’re here to show our solidarity with the struggle against casualisation and to talk about how our struggles are intertwined.
Your struggle is our struggle. It is part of the same system, the university’s neoliberal obsession with efficiency.
The poor working conditions and high workload that staff have to deal with impact the quality of education. How can we expect people who face such insecurity and pressure to dedicate sufficient time and energy to research and education?
Students are pressured to graduate as quickly as possible. The university has taken upon itself the task of producing suitable workers for the predatory job market.
Programmes and courses that are not deemed profitable enough are threatened with obliteration at the hands of a select, unelected few. Very often these people have no clue about what is best for the field.
Cameras are secretly purchased to replace jobs, despite the concerns and without the consent of staff and students. Did you ask to be watched by the university?
Whereas the cameras cost tons and tons of money, the CARE support group for sexual assault survivors has been defunded within months. The welfare and safety of staff and students is clearly not a priority for the university.
We see this very clearly when it comes to international students, especially from outside the EU. They’re lured in, pay extremely high fees, but are then left to their own devices. Can we call this anything other than pure exploitation?
The housing struggle for students has for a large part been caused by the university’s aim to raise student numbers every year without taking any responsibility in providing homes for these students. Once again, international students suffer the most.
Finally, the university is more than happy to collaborate with the polluting and exploitative fossil fuel industry. The concerns of the student and staff body aren’t even considered in such unethical decisions.
The university is being run like a business – not unlike their buddy Shell. Growth and the lowering of costs are prioritised over the welfare of students and staff and these decisions are made in an undemocratic way. A small elite of unelected board members pretends to listen to representative bodies and councils. And we are just meant to accept this silently. Whenever we resist this unhealthy hierarchy and its destructive choices, we’re faced with threats, suppression and co-optation.
But despite their efforts, we have to stay strong and band together. Students and staff should support each other in their struggles. We must stand up against the injustices and corrupting ways of the university.
Resist and raise your voice. Organise yourself.
Join the struggle for a higher minimum wage.
Join the struggle to bring back CARE.
Join the struggle to defeat casualisation.