Universities

Against the dangerous reopening of universities! Students and young people must fight against the pandemic!

This statement will be distributed by members of the International Youth and Student Club for Social Equality (IYSSE) to students and young people across Australia as universities resume for the 2022 academic year.

The start of 2022 has confronted young people across Australia with the cruel reality of the criminal policies of the ruling elite amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australia has already been hailed around the world as a ‘success story’ for keeping the number of cases and deaths low compared to countries like the US, Brazil and those in Europe. western. The country is currently experiencing 100,000 daily infections caused by the highly transmissible variant of Omicron. Mortality records are broken several times a week, with 398 deaths in the past seven days alone.

University of Michigan graduate students on strike in September 2020 [Credit: WSWS Media]

The vertical spike in Australian COVID infections is the result of the deadly ‘living with the virus’ agenda promoted by governments and corporate media around the world. Australia’s federal and state governments – the Liberal-National Coalition and Labor – have proceeded amid the spike in cases with the pro-corporate reopening of businesses, schools and universities in the interest of profiteering the financial oligarchy , regardless of the impact on the lives of ordinary people.

Young people and students must fight against this murderous drive for profit!

Young people are placed at the forefront of governments’ macabre experiment on population. As part of the reopening campaign, universities and schools plan to return to in-person teaching. The cramming of students across the country into overcrowded classrooms and lecture halls will cause the deadly virus to spread unchecked, leading to further death and massive suffering.

The death earlier this month of fit, young, healthy and doubly vaccinated James Kondilios in Sydney highlights that young people are not immune to the virus. This goes against that government and media lie – used to justify the for-profit campaign to “live with the virus” – that young people are invulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. Child hospitalizations amid the Omicron surge are reaching record highs in nearly every country. The mainstream media also fails to mention the effects of Long COVID, which are not yet fully understood. What is known, however, is that the suffering can persist for several months after the initial infection.

Despite the staggering number of cases and record COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, college campuses across the country are marching in step with calls from big business to resume face-to-face teaching.

Melbourne’s Monash University has announced it will reopen its campus on January 27, while the University of Melbourne will have a “blended” online and on-campus model for students ashore. The University of New South Wales in Sydney is also planning a return to campus for the first term of 2022.

University workers at Melbourne’s Victoria University, which has a large working-class and immigrant student population, were told before Christmas that summer classes would resume in person despite soaring numbers of COVID-19 cases.

This reopening took place with the full support of pro-business unions. Deputy National Secretary of the National Union for Higher Education (NTEU), Gabe Gooding, wrote an article in the union’s magazine, Attorney, November 8, 2021, titled “Reflections on Exiting Lockdown and the Way Ahead.” While the current surge due to the spread of Omicron had yet to begin, the number of daily cases nationwide at the time exceeded 1,000. In the article, Gooding wrote: “This period of Transitioning out of lockdowns is when we need to seize the moment and make sure we don’t ‘transition back’, but rather ‘transition forward’.”

The NTEU hasn’t written a word since about the exponential rise in cases across the country, let alone opposed the drive to reopen universities. The National Union of Students has also remained silent on the reopening of college campuses amid massive infections.

Australian children are herded into dangerous classrooms. There is no longer any claim that it is safe for children or their teachers or in the interest of their education. It is forcing their parents back to work to produce profits for the financial elite. This occurs in conditions where many children under 12 are not vaccinated. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted last week: “Our aim is to go back, to stay back, on the first day of the first mandate.”

Young workers employed in hospitality, retail, warehousing, delivery services and other industries are on the front lines of the dangerous spread of the virus. They often have to work multiple jobs and live in cramped quarters in order to pay rent, food, bills, education and other living expenses. In these sectors, young people are pressured by bosses and their financial situation to return to work despite the dangers of mass transmission.

In recent interviews published on the World Socialist Websiteyoung workers exposed their dangerous working conditions and the indifference of government and trade policies to the dangers workers face as part of the “live with the virus” campaign.

But a change is afoot. Young people, students and workers are not going to sit idly by and allow this mass death and misery to continue. Internationally, there is a growing movement of the working class against the corporate homicidal policy of “herd immunity” and mass infection.

Teachers around the world are opposing deadly plans to return to face-to-face teaching. In France, it is estimated that 75% of teachers took part in a national strike. In Chicago, 25,000 teachers took part in a powerful protest against the Democratic Party’s policy of reopening schools on behalf of big business. There is also growing opposition among Australian high school students to the reopening of schools as infections continue to rise. Educators and their supporters organized outside the politically bankrupt union apparatus in rank-and-file committees in Sri Lanka, Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and elsewhere have discussed the need to stop the reckless reopening of schools during the pandemic.

Internationally, similar developments have been observed among auto workers, postal workers, transport workers and other sectors. It is to this social force – the international working class – that young people and students must turn to end the pandemic and save lives.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a symptom of a much more terminal disease: the decaying capitalist system. The pandemic crisis was predicted by modern science, and scientific knowledge also shows that it was entirely preventable and can still be stopped. The suppression of the virus in China since the initial outbreak shows that scientifically determined public health measures taken together – strict lockdowns, mask mandates, proper quarantine facilities, mass vaccination programs and adequate contact tracing – can eliminate COVID. -19. But this cannot be maintained in one country. Eradication of COVID-19 requires an internationally coordinated elimination program.

However, this scientific program was rejected by the small wealthy minority because closing the businesses would reduce their ability to make profits through the exploitation of the working class. The financial oligarchy of all countries continued to hamper itself while workers, their families, small businesses and entire societies suffered. The drive to “reopen the economy,” including resuming in-person instruction in schools and universities, is an exercise in social murder at the expense of capitalist profits.

the World Socialist Website, published by the World Trotskyist Movement of which the IYSSE is the World Youth and Student Movement, called the pandemic a “triggering event” in world history, akin to World War I, which will have a profound impact on social consciousness. Millions of workers and young people around the world are educated outside of schools and universities. This lesson lies in the abject criminality of the capitalist system which puts profits before lives.

Youth and Student International for Social Equality insists that the pandemic puts the question of the political agenda at the center. Capitalism not only produced the pandemic crisis of COVID-19, but it is also the cause of all the serious social problems facing humanity: the march towards another catastrophic world war, the destruction of the environment, the growing social inequalities and the threat of fascism.

Oxfam’s latest inequality briefing summarizes the state of class relations in the world today. “A new billionaire has been created every 26 hours” since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, he said. The report continues: “The 10 richest men in the world have doubled their fortunes, while more than 160 million people have been pushed into poverty. Meanwhile, around 17 million people have died of COVID-19, a scale of loss not seen since World War II.

If the capitalist system cannot prevent the misery and mass death of the world population, then it must be overthrown and replaced by a socialist system to meet the pressing needs of humanity.

As the only truly socialist revolutionary club on campus, the IYSSE will fight to mobilize youth and students against capitalism’s criminal response to the pandemic, and for an international working class revolutionary movement for socialism. We urge you to take your place in this fight today by joining the IYSSE club or forming one at your school or university. Contact the IYSSE to find out more.