So Trumpism has hit New Zealand shores. A group calling itself the ‘European Students Association’ is trying to set itself up at the University of Auckland. The group’s website is covered in all the usual muck of the far right, with slogans echoing SS phrases from Nazi Germany and weasley phrases about ‘European culture’.
This is a clear provocation, and it is heartening to see how students have responded. The Auckland University Students Association is speaking out against the group, and students are planning a protest against the presence of these creeps organizing on campus. We salute AUSA’s stand, and urge all students and staff to join the protest. (Facebook page details are here).
At the very best the European Students Association is a piece of post-Trump trolling, stirring the pot of antagonism. At its worst it is a genuine far-right organization attempting to gain a foothold on campus. Either way it needs to be opposed. We say: no space for fascism! Stand up to racism and bigotry!
The European Students Association tells another tale too. There is no way this group would have had even the toe-hold it has now had the control of all student affairs – including club affairs – stayed with AUSA. But, in the voluntary student unionist era, and as part of a long-term campaign against student organizing at Auckland, administration has passed to ‘Campus Life’, a body not democratically controlled by students. This stunt from the rightists shows why we need to reclaim our student spaces.
And we can’t trust the university authorities. While it is welcome that the Tertiary Education Union has condemned this group, it’s a mistake for the union to call – as they have – for the Vice Chancellor to step in. Stuart McCutcheon would love nothing more than an excuse to meddle further in student affairs, and to further shut down spaces for political debate. He will use that against the left, against dissident student groups, and against staff-student dissent. We can’t look to the authorities, and we shouldn’t legitimize their desire to censor and depoliticize campus.
There’s only one thing that can stop these racists: concerted, determined student and staff protest. The European Students’ Association is a growth from the mouldy corners of the Trumpian internet. Let’s drive them back there.
The ISO Auckland branch has a meeting scheduled next week on Resistance in the Age of Trump: Thursday 9th March, 6.30pm, G16 Science Centre 303.