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Students build the fight against effects of economic crisis

Commentary by Jacob Flom |
October 20, 2009
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SDS Milwaukee banner reads "Education is a right, Students Fight Tuition Hike!"
(Fight Back! News/Staff)

Since the near collapse of the banking system, Americans have paid billions to banks that are now making record profits. Meanwhile, students, workers and homeowners are facing unforgivable unemployment, homelessness and debt. In spite of this, the Obama administration continues to escalate the occupation of Afghanistan and maintain troops in Iraq, adding trillions to this country's deficit and financial crisis. It is the working people who will pay for these wars, just as we are paying for bailouts to greedy banks.

If we are to see the 'change' Obama promised, we need to organize and fight for it. Students and youth are a powerful political force. It is not the rich politicians who make change happen, it is the real working people who fight for, and win change. Students and youth are especially successful in winning social change and building mass movements. The right to vote, the right to organize, the right to public education and the right to the eight-hour work day were won through years of organization, struggle and sometimes death. Generations before us have taken the streets in the face of brutal repression to win what liberties we enjoy today.

In the past year, people across the globe have organized mass movements confronting all kinds of economic injustices. This summer, Rosemary Williams of Minnesota refused to leave after a bank seized her home. Last December, workers in Chicago occupied their factory when U.S. Bank cut funding to their operation, after receiving a federal bailout. This month, tens of thousands of students and faculty at California universities participated in walk-outs and sit-ins against the budget cuts that are crippling universities across the country. Two weeks ago, over 25 college campuses participated in protests and direct action against the eighth anniversary of war in Afghanistan. Just days ago, Puerto Ricans shut down their island with a general strike protesting huge layoffs, unemployment and budget cuts. These are just a few of the struggles people are organizing to fight for social and economic justice.

It is time for our generation to step up and build a better future for ourselves and our children. If we want that future, we need to fight for the right to higher education, the right to earn a living wage, the right to housing and healthcare. This Nov. 10, students will participate in a national day of action for education rights.

Students refuse to pay for failing corporations and imperialist occupations with cuts to education. We refuse to fight their wars to pay for school. We demand a student bailout, an end to budget cuts, layoffs and tuition hikes. Education is a right!

Jacob Flom is a member of Students for a Democratic Society in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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