On February 24th and 25th, students from across the country gathered in Columbus, Ohio at The University of Ohio for the 20th National USAS conference, celebrating 20 years of student and worker power.
On Friday afternoon, hundreds of students and community allies, alongside workers from the Communication Workers of America Local 4501, marched across campus demanding that The Ohio State University “Stop the Sellout” of their energy sector to private interests.
In remembering the moment students stormed the administrative building, OSU student and USAS leader Nathalie Pagán stated, “It was very powerful to see so many people get together and show solidarity with the workers who we have been fighting alongside for years. I loved being able to listen to the experiences of the workers and how organizing alongside us has helped them overcome.”
Mehlam Bhuriwala, a student at University of Texas- Austin and a member of USAS Local 18 spoke out to show the broad student support for this fight. “We don’t all go to this school, but we all feel the dangers that are present today as a result of putting corporate interests before the student and staff voice. This is a campus, not a business.”
On Saturday, workers from across different struggles and industries came together to call for student support in their fights. Present were fast food workers from Pittsburgh, a Nissan worker from Mississippi, a garment worker from Los Angeles, a Nabisco worker from Chicago, a student worker from Rutgers University in New Jersey, a food service worker from Northeastern University in Boston, and an internationally renowned unionist from Cambodia. The panel highlighted the ways in which diverse struggles across the world are interconnected.
A recurrent theme across the panel was the strong leverage of student solidarity in achieving victories. In her own words, Heidy Barreiro, a food service worker at Northeastern University and member of Unite Here Local 26 stated, “Without the students, there is no fight.”
Throughout the weekend, students continually demonstrated that even in Trump’s America, students and workers have the power to hold our universities accountable to be the progressive institutions many claim to be. As the semester continues, we students will make our demands heard, escalate our campaigns, and show corporations who truly has power at the university.
Thank you to everyone who made this conference possible.
In solidarity –