IYSSE at San Diego State University demands Australia’s Macquarie University reinstate IYSSE as an official club!

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) at San Diego State University (IYSSE at SDSU) in the United States strongly condemns the actions taken by Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia to deny club status to the IYSSE at Macquarie University (IYSSE at MQ) on grounds that it is not unique from other existing organizations on campus.

By refusing to recognize the IYSSE at MQ as a separate and distinct movement from the existing student groups, Macquarie University is violating the fundamental democratic rights of their student body who should be granted their full freedoms of political association.

The IYSSE is the student and youth organization of the Socialist Equality Parties throughout the world. Our world movement, a socialist and internationalist organization, has a rich political history and was founded by Leon Trotsky in 1938. Socialist Equality Parties and IYSSE clubs exist across campuses from Germany to the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka and Australia.

The IYSSE at SDSU joins a growing wave of opposition from students and youth at Macquarie and across the globe in demanding that the university overturn its decision and grant club status to the IYSSE at MQ.

The IYSSE at MQ was affiliated as a distinct club with the university from 2010 to 2022. In order to affiliate this year, the club submitted all required documents to the university by the necessary deadline. Despite all requirements being met, the university denied their affiliation on grounds of the club not meeting “the requirement of being unique.”

The university claims that the Macquarie Socialists, affiliated with Socialist Alternative, have the same exact aims as the IYSSE. However, the IYSSE at MQ has been fighting to convey that the Socialist Equality Parties and Socialist Alternative are fundamentally opposed to one another in their program and perspectives.

MQ Socialists are affiliated with Socialist Alternative, a pseudo-left organization which in the final analysis supports the capitalist system, capitalist politicians and imperialist war, including the US-NATO proxy war in Ukraine against Russia which threatens a third world war and the destruction of the planet with a nuclear exchange. Meanwhile, the Socialist Equality Parties and IYSSE clubs have been working since the start of the war to build a global anti-war movement of the working class to try to put an end to the war.

Socialist Alternative also calls for the election of Greens or Labor Party candidates, whose political programs do not challenge the capitalist system or call for the building of socialist society, the central aim of the SEP and IYSSE. Since the Greens and Labor Party do not politically represent the SEP, the Socialist Equality Parties run their own candidates on a platform opposed to the Greens and Labor Party candidates Socialist Alternative supports. Socialist Alternative focuses on building up bureaucratic trade unions which ultimately serve the interests of the state, but the IYSSE fights to mobilize the working class to take up the struggle for socialism through the formation of independent rank-and-file committees. Any serious political review reveals that the two parties are not aligned with one another.

Here at San Diego State University, for several years, there was another supposedly “Trotskyist” organization on campus: the now collapsed International Socialist Organization (ISO). But, in reality, the ISO never had anything to do with Trotskyism or socialism. It upheld a political line similar to Socialist Alternative and pushed for subservience to the Democratic Party and the capitalist system.

Even while the ISO was still nominally existing, IYSSE at SDSU has been arguably the only real political presence on campus since 2008 and definitively the only socialist club. While the ISO supported Barack Obama and the US/NATO war for regime change in Syria, we held public meetings and rallies in opposition to the wars of both the Obama and Trump administrations, organized opposition to severe budget cuts and austerity, and have continued to explain events with a Marxist perspective, featuring public meetings on questions of art, philosophy and culture.

David North addressing a near universally-masked audience at San Diego State University on April 25, 2023.

The latest public meeting, which was part of an international meeting series, “The War in Ukraine and How to Stop it,” was so eagerly attended by over 120 students that some spilled into the hallway. The response to the meeting conveyed a thirst for a socialist political perspective that our international movement alone provides. It should also be noted that the meeting had the highest levels of COVID-19 precautions available. We were the central voice of opposition against the administration's dangerous COVID-19 reopening and horrific treatment of students who became infected on campus. This is only a snapshot of our work on campus which takes place on an international scale.

What role is Macquarie University ultimately playing in blocking the IYSSE being an affiliated student club? According to the university website, “At Student Diversity and Inclusion, our goal is to support successful student communities at Macquarie… that support student diversity, including diversity in culture, language, gender,... and religion.” There’s no mention that there are initiatives to censor political voices. By their own standards of “supporting student diversity,” they are denying the IYSSE its democratic right to showcase true diversity.

All the political groups listed—from MQ Socialists to the Model United Nations, the Liberal and Labor clubs—have made their peace with capitalism, austerity, and war. The question thus arises, what if a student seeks to oppose unending war and austerity? What of the rights of students to genuine socialist politics? Those students are simply being told no.

Macquarie University is effectively censoring the only voice of opposition to the US-NATO war against Russia in Ukraine at a crucial moment as NATO accelerates talks with Ukraine to join NATO and both sides threaten the use of nuclear weapons.

The IYSSE has been staunchly opposed to the war since its start and has been sponsoring meetings all over the world focusing on the history of the conflict and how the working class can stop the war, including a successful meeting on May 4 at Macquarie University, just a month before the university administration decided to deny affiliation to the club. The administration’s decision will serve the purpose of shutting down the discussion of the anti-war perspective of the IYSSE, violating the students’ right to free political discussion amid a major global crisis that threatens our very existence.

By denying affiliation to the IYSSE, the university is imposing the type of politics that will be allowed on campus. Ultimately, it’s policing its own students on what they are allowed to discuss and think, specifically on matters of war.

We demand that the university overturn its decision and re-affiliate the IYSSE at Macquarie University. We will continue to expose this act of censorship and its broader implication for democratic rights and opposition to imperialist war.

We call on all readers to support the fight to defend the IYSSE at Macquarie University by sending letters of protest over the rejection of the IYSSE’s affiliation to the Student Engagement, Inclusion and Belonging division of university management at studentgroups@mq.edu.au, and CC iysse.macquarie@gmail.com.