Blog post

An Appeal from the Students at Nanterre

Students in France are determined to fight against the Macron government and its anti-social reforms.

Verso Books16 April 2018

via Facebook.

Translated by David Broder. 

We are students from 35 higher education establishments who met at the National Student Coordination in Nanterre on 7 and 8 April 2018. We reaffirm our will and our determination to fight against the Macron government and its anti-social reforms.

For several weeks we have been actively mobilised against the attacks raining down on the universities and high schools. The government is determined to wipe away our social gains and our right to a free public education, open to all. The "Student Orientation and Success" bill seeks to close the doors of the university to all those coming from the most precarious backgrounds. This institutionalises a selection process determined by our — real or supposed — social origins and our parents’ resources. At the same time, the government is pushing the end of the national baccalauréat [school-leaving exam] and is planning a reform of the high schools following the same logic as the "Students Plan." It demands not only a social selection process but also getting rid of compensation [using results in one exam to make up for the shortfall in another], resits and retakes, in order to adapt our universities to the needs of the market and to create university faculties that are ever more competitive and reserved for élites alone. Merger plans and the formation of other grands établissements [public institutions with ministerial charter] point in this same direction.

22 March saw 500,000 people from various different sectors take into the streets. This was a moment that crystallised and amplified the mobilisation in the universities. This strike day saw the mobilisation rise to a new level. Several faculties saw large general assemblies, from the 1,000 people at Paris I to the more than 2,000 people in Toulouse and Montpellier and the more than 600 in cities like Nantes and Nancy… Faced with this mobilisation, the government preferred to condemn the blockades and occupations, rather than condemn the far-Right groups that beat up the mobilised students in the lecture theatres of Montpellier, Lille, or Strasbourg. It even sent police into our universities, using military force in order to dislodge the students who had reappropriated these spaces. Such violence is unacceptable, and we condemn it in the strongest terms. We will fight against these attacks, whether they come from the far Right or from the government, by making use of our own force of numbers.

But today high-schoolers and students are not alone in suffering the government’s pro-boss and anti-social policy. The government is on the offensive on every front, from facilitating the collective lay-offs in the private sector (like in the Carrefour supermarket chain to attacking the railworkers and public-sector workers as a whole, as it seeks to undermine secure job posts, working conditions and access to public services, on the railways and in the hospitals). It moreover aims to reform pensions and to restrict access to unemployment benefits.

Several sectors have responded to this in recent weeks by taking to the terrain of struggle, which extends beyond the youth alone. There has been struggle by the railworkers, hospital staff, undocumented temp staff, civil servants, workers in care homes for the elderly, Air France, Pimkie, Ford in Blanquefort, garbage facilities… We also support the CROUS [student services and cafeterias] staff and all other university employees in struggle. Today we see the beginning an all-encompassing fight against a government that serves the boss class. The day of action on 22 March, but so, too, the one on 3 April, have laid down the first milestones in a coming-together of struggles that seems more necessary than ever, faced with the government offensive.

The government is endlessly condemning "privileged" civil servants and "idle" unemployed people and trying to convince us that there are "good" and "bad" migrants. We have to oppose this discourse. We condemn poverty, precarity, and the barriers being set up to people in urgent need. We cannot remain isolated, each fighting our own corner. The government is attacking all of us, and only if we all respond together, on strike and in the streets, will we be able to impose our demands. Our response has to be at the same level as the attacks against us; we will push back Macron and the boss class through a general strike, a total shutting-down of the economy, an open strike mandate. We thus call for an end to any attempt at consultation with this government, which itself seeks a test of force. We call for a further widening of the mobilisation, and for links between all the different sectors, especially those spearheading the mobilisation like the railworkers, joining together with their initiatives. That is why the 9 April strike day on the trains must be part of a dynamic in which different struggles come together.

The movement needs to embrace a winning strategy, and we thus call on all the student general assemblies to reflect on what should come after the mobilisations of 1, 3, and 5 May, which will be decided at the next National Student Coordination. We thus call on students to join or continue the struggle and to establish links with other sectors in order to generalise the mobilisation also beyond the universities. We encourage the mobilised students to address themselves to high-schoolers and persuade them, too, to mobilise.

… 14 April, together with the railworkers’ strike, must be the opportunity for mass demonstrations to show our determination against the government and to display the strength of the movement’s legitimacy. Finally, we call on everyone to join us in the 19 April national strike day, a date which stands in continuity with 22 March.

We demand:

– The abrogation of the ORE law [new exam and admissions process]

– Abandonment of plans to reorder degrees, of the reform in the school leaving qualifications, and of the reforms in high-schools and apprenticeships

– The abandonment of plans for mergers and the creation of further Grands établissements [public institutions with ministerial charter]

– Investment at whatever level is necessary for schooling, higher education and public services in general.

– Mass re-investment in the CROUS [student services/cafeterias], a public service also suffering neoliberal attacks.

– The withdrawal of the reform to the railways.

– The withdrawal of the asylum and immigration bill.

We reaffirm our international solidarity with all populations suffering the imperialist countries’ relentless attacks.

We call the next National Student Coordination for 21 and 22 April. It will be held in the first university that offers to host it as a General Assembly.

Filed under: education, france