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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 7. 11th April 1973

Educational Liberation Front

page 3

Educational Liberation Front

Through a motion passed at the A.G.M. the Students Association became ELF, the Education Liberation Front, the aims of which are outlined below. A report of the A.G.M. appears on page 11.

The universities and schools are dead. What is needed is a movement to chop them down.

Be an ELF!

How does a new true education system emerge out of the old system of mis-education?

Like a toadstool upon a rotting trunk. What we can use from the old system we will use. Learning belongs to the people: when the student rejects the institution she or he is in a position to use the material of the university outside its institutional structure. She can use the ease of access available in a college to equipment and materials to the people who learn of their own reality.

Who to Talk to

Instead of chatting up the right lecturer to help you climb the ladder, talk with the caretaker, typists, canteen-workers and maintenance staff etc. You will probably find them more interesting. Most academics are boring to talk to but discussion comes alive when confrontation takes place and you both discuss how you can go beyond your roles in the situation, e.g. physical, rearrangement of the chairs in the middle of a tutorial, or handing the tutor a reading list for the next week, or bringing along a 'low status' mate of yours (or a whole gang) to an elite sherry reception. Go and have lunch in the staff club!

Rip Off the University

Universities have lots of equipment which is exclusively owned and often underused. For example: photocopiers, duplicators, projectors, cameras, tape recorders, typewriters, mechanical, electrical, electronic and chemical laboratories. There's nothing you can steal from the university that wasn't made by the people and stolen from the people in the first place. But don't build up a private collection of ripped-off gear. That's a purely selfish unchristian action. If you steal, steal things back for the people.


How do elves survive in our competitive degree factories? They play the game. That doesn't mean they compete — they cheat. Elves know that assessment is shit and energy can't be wasted on it. It is necessary to organise some good honest cheating. Why write new essays when it's all been done before? Good elves organise essay pools from last year's work; stereotyped questions deserve stereotyped answers.

Cheating is necessary to survive on. It's a counter — cheat; cheating against the system that cheats you. But don't drift into it. It must be a conscious decision because it must be a political decision. It gives you breathing space, and that is its only worth. This leads to the second step — collective work. This means refusing to be assessed as an individual; refusing to turn in individual work. All assignments will be a collective effort and must be assessed as such.

Drawing of an elf

Why are You Here?

To get a good degree? What for? Why should you depend on the judgement of your professors only? Why shouldn't we care equally what our friends and neighbours think about it?

To get a good job? What do you want a job for? Who says it's good? For money?

For Security? But you can't tame life and button it up in advance. You'll find you lose more than you gain if you try. Our real security should be through making a community of people who care, not in dead-end ruts with a pension.

To get training and help in society? Enough scientific knowledge already exists to solve all the problems of the world like starvation. This hasn't happened because the imperialist countries and their ruling groups in the poor countries would lose by it. Likewise, within God-zone it is the ruling class which decides which techniques and technologies will be introduced. So why do you think you'll be able to help society when working for a system. If you want to help people — do it directly and forget about an official career. It's only the system which worries about qualifications.

To have a good time? Sooner or later you will probably find that the life of being a 'student' is rather shallow. It is not fundamentally satisfying. Underneath the carefree image, you will find isolation, boredom and fear.

Because you are really interested in some subject? O.K. but we think there is no such thing as 'pure' learning. All knowledge is either useful to the rulers or to those being oppressed. You will probably find that there are certain questions you are not supposed to ask in your subject. For example, if you are doing medicine, you will be discouraged from asking why the course starts with physics, moves on to corpses, and goes on to bits of bodies, never touching the whole person because of the doctor's authority role relationship with an isolated 'patient' or 'case'. Every subject has its forbidden questions. If you take our intellectual work seriously, you will find that very often the emperor has no clothes, the elaborate theories are based on a trick.

Moreover, perhaps you will come to question the whole idea of a specialised academic sector apart from life, apart from the community. Life throws up its own problems for everybody, not just 'students'. These problems require as much tough thinking as the set-piece problems of the established disciplines. And they are not just intellectual problems. They stem from real problems people feel and involve practical work, struggle and experimentation with alternatives. To suggest that learning only happens in a college is to persuade people not at college that they can't learn, and therefore they can't solve their problems.

Or are you here to grow and discover yourself? We do not deny that you have the chance to do this to some extent. But it won't come from mixing only with a narrow range of people. You won't develop intellectually if you are caught in an academic wordgame. You won't develop emotionally if you are caught in a narrow series of inauthentic games with other people. Real thinking and real learning are inseparable from life and the goals you set yourself. It is precisely because we want to encourage you to find youself, your own self, that we want you to question and go beyond the limited role of student.