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James Wood

Degree and year of study?

I’m a fourth year student studying a Bachelor of Arts (Honours, majoring in history and sociology)

What inspired you to engage with the office and role(s) you currently hold?

I ran for the Education Officer position because I believe in the importance of student unionism and activism. Throughout history, students have often been a spark for wider ruptures and struggles in society. Campaigns against the Vietnam War, for Indigenous land rights, for free education kicked off on the campuses through determined political action before spreading into mass social movements. I take inspiration and guidance from the radical student unionist tradition in our struggles today for a free and democratic education system and a society rid of oppression.

What Clubs are you involved with at UofA?

I am a proud member of the Socialist Alternative club. We are a revolutionary Marxist organisation active in campus-level campaigns against all the many forms of oppression under the capitalist system. Socialist Alternative has led the campaign against Høj’s proposed education cuts, built protests for climate action and organised solidarity actions for Myanmar and Palestine.

What led you to join the club(s)?

I chose to become a socialist because the only way we can have a society free of oppression is if we get rid of capitalism, a system that only serves the interests of an elite profit-seeking minority. Getting to that point though requires building the collective power in struggle of ordinary workers and the oppressed. On our campus, this means getting organised in campaigns, being staunch and prepared to challenge head on the powers that be.

Favourite holiday destination/activity?

Would have to be Scotland, my family homeland. I love the snow, the breathtaking scenery and the fish and chips (not to mention the rich history of working-class struggle against Margaret Thatcher’s attacks on the unions and mine closures).

Favourite place to study on campus?

The Cloisters outside UniBar to soak up some sun. If I really need to get work done, then level 1 of the Library is perfect.

What do you hope to achieve in your office and role(s) in 2022?

My top priority is to defeat Peter Høj’s faculty mergers, staff sackings and course cuts. The AUU should use whatever means possible to promote the no cuts campaign, including printing leaflets, holding information stalls and calling protests. The only way we are going to get here though is with a fundamental change in the political orientation of the union. I support fully democratising the union and making it a left-wing activist body that gives a political lead and backs student campaigns rather than handing out maps during O-week and hosting BBQs. For too long, the AUU has been a playground for careerists and aspiring politician clamouring to join the rich and powerful. 2022 is an opportunity for the union to change tack and instead use its substantial resources to build campaigns demanding that UofA cuts its ties to destructive industries, funds free education and provides proper COVID safety measures like ventilation and paid pandemic leave.

What advice would you give to students starting out at the University of Adelaide?

Your education is about infinitely more than just handing in papers and sitting in lectures. University is a site of contesting ideas and political debate about what kind of society we ought to live in. You should not only seriously engage in politics but be part of practical action to fight against all forms of oppression and for real justice. Right now, on campus there is plenty of left-wing activism against education cuts, for climate justice (kick Santos off campus) and against racist imperialism. Get involved!