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Florida Student Union Mission, Vision, and Unity
Florida Student Union is a union for students in the state of Florida to organize collectively to fight around common grievances, build power, and work together for a better educational system and society. Though we adhere to the principles laid out here, we work to engage all students and to bring all students to participate and have a venue in general assemblies even where they may disagree with our ideas and actions.
We believe in equality
We are opposed to all forms of oppression or exploitation including exploitation by class, racism, sexism, homophobia, or discrimination based on any social, cultural, or religious differences which are used as tools of repression in the current system. The current system creates a new system of indentured servitude for students, and reinforces existing inequities in society. We seek to both fight the systemic sources of oppression in our work, and counteract them within our own organization through organizing and conscious practice. Our struggle is not only to better our situation as students, but to fight against exploitation and oppression throughout society and contribute to the construction of a society without class, race, or gendered oppression.
We believe in free liberatory education for all
We believe that education is a basic activity of people and not a privilege or industry. We feel that there is nothing more vital to a free society than an active and educated populous, and as such we are opposed not only to all tuition increases, but tuition and profit in general. We feel that all members who contribute to society should be able to reap the benefits of that society regardless of any situations that currently limit their ability to do so. We feel that such a situation can be reached through a fundamental change not only to the education system but society as a whole.
The problems of education run deeper than simply how it is payed for. Presently, existing education both reproduces existing power relationships in society, and largely functions to benefit and facilitate the needs of dominant interests, industries, and power. We struggle to build a liberatory education of the dominated classes whose function is to engage people’s needs, develop tools for struggling for freedom through dialogue and action, and contribute to expanding the capacity and consciousness of all in pursuit of fuller life. Against the separation and alienation of education from living we put forward education as a living breathing component of life that in a freer society would be integrated into our daily existence.
We believe in the right of all people to the exchange of ideas and collective action
The attempt to limit both the speech, exchange of ideas, and collective activity of students within schools is part of a broader effort of social control enacted by dominant powers. We oppose any attempts to limit the actions, freedom of speech, or exchange of ideas of people at the university. At the same time we uphold the need for collective accountability in exercising those rights, and guiding our actions by the needs and aspirations of the movement.
We are all leaders
We believe that society can only be truly free when the political and economic organization of society is democratically organized by and for all. For these reasons we are committed to making every member a leader, and against vesting political or decision making into the hands of any institutionalized leaders not accountable to the organization as a whole. Society will only be able to overcome oppression and exploitation when we build a truly directly democratic self-managed society towards our needs and desires, rather than institutionalized minority class-rule.
We believe in direct action
We do not believe that those in power will give up that power without a struggle. Those who run, benefit, and thrive off of the present situation are inherently antagonistic as a group (though not necessarily as individuals) to the freedom of students and the community. As a result, the recourse for mosts grievances we have is through collective direct action. Direct action is when we take action together and use our power as students for solving problems in our daily lives. Other forms of action rely on the power of authorities to act in our favor, which robs us of our collective strength, capacity, and development. Rather than looking to outside authorities and institutions that benefit from the current power relations, we look to our own power as a group organized for the common benefit to enact changes. Consequently we are opposed to lobbying, backroom deals, professional bureaucracies, and arrangements that place our power in the hands of minorities rather than through the student body as an organized whole.
The function of a student union is to build a powerful movement and thriving democracy of students engaged in collective struggles for bettering our lives and education. For this reason we reject any alliances with groups participating in existing state or capital hierarchies, groups engaged in state-building or capturing projects, or groups that seek to solicit or use influence of hierarchical powers. Members are free to join such political groups as long as they are not officers, however it is contrary to our vision and practice as a self-managed student organization to displace our power into such bodies that alienate our collective democracy and action into unaccountable hierarchies of power.
Towards a new education
We recognize that the current system is organized against students and society, and reinforces existing inequities. We are therefore an autonomous group that does not seek approval, legitimation, or alliance with formal recognition of school bodies. Where it is fruitful, alliances with other student organizations may be organized where it does not limit our autonomy or contradict our principles. Likewise we do not support the system of student government existing in Florida. Student government serves as a distraction to give the illusion of control, while extracting funds and control away from the student body. Likewise the administration of schools is rested in the hands of a professional bureaucracy who has interests, both political and financial, at odds with employees and students. It is our belief that only through a directly democratic process can a decision be made that benefits the whole of our university community. Student government works in a largely unaccountable manner and reflects only a small portion of the student population. Even in situations where student government does have a representative voice, it is possible that this voice be overruled either by the appointed university Board of Trustees or both other governmental committees in primary education making those situations a potential moot point.
We believe that the Board of Trustees and other governmental educational bodies works in an autocratic manner and works to meet their own needs rather than those of their students, the university faculty, or the staff. We believe that by building our power as members of the university we can end their authoritarianism and create a better system where the students and communities that both fund and stand to benefit from education directly control, organize, and help create their own educational system.
We reject the need for unaccountable administrators and student government, and in its place proposal the control, direction, and organization of educational systems by bottom-up councils of students and employees respectively collaborating. It is our goal to abolish student government, and replace it with a directly democratic system of student-control of our education through unions, assemblies, and councils.
Popular education and our struggle
Schools are institutions separated from the rest of society. Yet students and educators have opportunities not only to build consciousness and organization in their struggles, but to use our power and capacities for the betterment of all society. Our vision of liberatory education guides us in not only organizing ourselves, but to look further towards using our resources to serve broader society in solidarity. Through the lessons we learn in the student struggle, we are working towards building people who are a part of the social struggle for life. Let the student movement be one of the first steps students take in the lifelong fight of communities organizing around their concrete needs for a more just society.