Leeds for Free Education Demo on Friday 6th March 2014

Unfortunately, I’ve been ill for the past couple of days with a nasty flu that I caught right after my talk at Wadham College, Oxford University. I am grateful that Iain Dalton​, Socialist Student Yorkshire Organiser, was able to speak on my behalf, doing a brilliant job of talking about the Justice 4 Sanaz​ campaign and plight of non-EU international students on Friday 6th March for the Leeds For Free Education​ demo. Go to the 4.39 mark to watch.

“I thought I might be able to get by with coming to a demo without speaking but unfortunately Sanaz Raji, who was going to speak at this demo today, has been on a speaking tour around the country. On Wednesday night she fell ill in Oxford […]. She she asked me to come up here and say a few words about her campaign and the situation facing international students, which obviously I am not but I can relate to people what Sanaz has told me about her situation.

Sanaz was a PhD at this university. She relied on funding that she got to do her course. She suffered from illness, injury, and was treated disgracefully by this university. She was bullied off her course and tried to appeal that decision and try to restart her course elsewhere but to no avail. Every step of the way, from the university, to the secretariat, to the Office of Independent Adjudicators- which most people won’t have heard of, but that’s the body that students can appeal to in higher education if you have a dispute with the university. They have all given her the cold shoulder. They have all failed to stand up for students. I think one of her demands is that process is reformed intro something that students have democratic input and a right to take part.

But for most universities, international students are cash cows. They are people that they can charge exorbitant amounts. £9,000 a year is a helleva lot in fees, anyhow. But international students, including postgraduates as well, are charged vast sums of money. We think that is wrong. We think that all students should have free education. We think all students should have grants to support with living costs.

Because Sanaz has been thrown off her course by the university, she doesn’t have the support anymore with living costs. She has had to go from hand to mouth, asking for donations off of people, living from sofa to sofa, spending time in people’s spare rooms. This is the reality of the system we have for international students when they are not something that the university can make profit off of anymore. This is what the neoliberal university does.”

To support the J4S campaign, a donation would be much appreciated at this time. J4S will be heading to London to speak at Royal Holloway, University of London on Tuesday 17th March followed by a talk a SOAS on Wednesday 18th March and finally a big fundraiser event, also at SOAS on Thursday 19th March. To keep in touch where I will be next, please check on the Justice4Sanaz University Tour page.

Many thanks!

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About justice4sanaz

For 3 years, Sanaz Raji, a non-EU international student from the United States, has waged a fearless and brave fight against institutional aggression, bullying, and racism from the School of Media and Communication (formerly the Institution of Communications Studies) University of Leeds. The School of Media and Communication took away Sanaz's scholarship in August 2011, only 2 weeks before the start of her third year into her PhD studies. The School of Media and Communication breached their own procedures and rules concerning evaluating student progress. By taking away Sanaz's scholarship, the School of Media and Communication prevented her from continuing her studies in addition to having a decent standard of living with food and shelter that all students expect as a human right. In waging her battle for equal rights for non-EU international students, Sanaz was evicted from her university accommodation in May 2014, threatened with an ASBO (anti-social behavior order) and now fighting against deportation. All non-EU international students should have the right to challenge their universities for their failings without the threat of harassment or deportation. Justice4Sanaz is a movement to redress the failure of the student movement to discuss the myriad of ways that non-EU students, especially those who are people of color, are silenced, bullied and threatened within the neoliberal British university system.
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