Over the years, we students have struggled on our individual campuses in the fight against the deterioration of our education and our futures. It’s time to come together and begin forming a movement toward student unionism. From Chile, to Canada, to Brazil, student unions have proven time and time again that students en masse have the power to win against those who govern undemocratically.
Students are a a heterogeneous population. Our identities, concerns, and beliefs vary by campus. But as students, we have common interests and overarching issues that would be best addressed as a collective whole. We are proposing that students from campuses across California come together to collectively and democratically discuss, decide on, and develop the movement toward student unionization and begin forming models of alternative democracy on our campuses.
Our struggles are one. Our victories are one.
The idea to start working toward the formation of a statewide student union in California came out of the first Southern California Education Organizing Coalition (SCEOC) conference, which was organized by “Students for Social Justice” at Pasadena City College in January 2012. At this conference, a student union working group was formed with the aim of building unilateral student power, outside the influence of other organizations/unions. Inspired by international student movements with strong student unionist foundations—like those found in Canada, Chile, and Brazil—the group put out a statewide call for campuses to start working collectively to develop a movement toward student unionism. By May 2012, the first statewide California Student Union conference was held at Santa Monica College, with 100 participants and 26 schools from all systems of education in attendance.
In its current stage of development, the California Student Union (CASU) is a loose coalition of campus groups within all systems of higher education in California (Community College, California State University, University of California, and Private Universities). The main alternative democratic model we’ve been looking toward is that of direct, or participatory, democracy. This is a non-hierarchical model with roots based in indigenous governance, and whose decision-making process is based on open discussion and consensus. CASU organizing has thus far been focused on connecting with other students via regional and statewide conferences as well as collaborating through committees and working groups. CASU is in its early stages of development, and there is still much to work on together in order to build student power across the state.
GUIDING MANDATE & PRINCIPLES
As amended on 10-20-12 at the Second CA Student Union Conference
- To Fight for the Right of all People to Equal Access to a Free, Quality, Public Education
- To Fight for Democratic Governance of the Schools by Students, Staff and Faculty
- To Unite and Fight for All Sectors of Public Education across California
- To Fight Against Racism and All Forms of Oppression in the Movement, in Society, and Everywhere
- Participatory Democracy
- Orientation Towards Mobilization and Mass Direct Action
- Political Independence
- Student and Worker Solidarity and Unity in Struggle
- National and International Solidarity
- Against Repression: in Defense of Free Speech, Academic Freedom, and the Right to Protest
- Build relationships & solidarity across the state.
- Connect our struggles across campuses & systems.
- Support each other’s local/short-term campaigns.
- Strategize and develop long-term campaigns as a collective student movement.
- Train each other to become organizers, not just activists.
- Create intersectional spaces that help each other grow.
- Connect students to local community & labor struggles and grow the wider social justice movement.
- Commit to creating change through the process of Direct/Participatory Democracy.
- Democratize our system’s Governing Boards.
- Refund education for the long term = EDUCATION SHOULD BE FREE!!
- TO CHANGE SOCIETY!!!!