Socialist Worker

Student occupations at the crossroads

Kohou Mbwélili, a student at Paris’s Sorbonne university, spoke to Socialist Worker about the student movement

Issue No. 2079

The student movement in France against the LRU privatisation law will reach a crucial turning point this week.

When the rail strike was on, we felt connected to it and drew strength from it. Students felt that they were part of something wider.

But at the same time, many people couldn’t come to our general assemblies – where we discuss and decide our policies. We lost around half of the people there.

Now strike has stopped, more students are coming back. So it’s a new phase. We have an opportunity to hold large general assemblies, but at a time when the government is on the offensive.

The government is trying to divide the students. Small groups of right wing students have organised against the blockades, and there is a huge propaganda drive against us.

We held a general assembly at the Sorbonne on Thursday of last week where some 400 students decided to occupy and set up a picket line.

The next morning the university administration announced it was closing the university from Friday noon till Monday, under the pretext of “avoiding violence”.

The authorities want to avoid picket lines at all costs – that’s why they shut down. It’s a strategy they prepared beforehand.

So the situation is much more polarised. Students have learned how to organise from previous movements, such as the movement against the CPE labour laws last year.

But there is a lack of political leadership.The Socialists and Communists are silent. The Unef student union leadership wants to negotiate rather than fight.

So far the movement has grown rapidly – about twice as fast as the CPE movement last year. Now it can go in either direction.

Riots in Paris

Paris’s suburbs were in flames again as Socialist Worker went to press this week. Young people fought with police following the deaths of two teenagers, Moushin and Larami, in an accident involving a police car.

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