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It is based upon, and somewhat inspired by, the structure and purpose of syndicalist movements in trade and labor (or trade unions), but are specific in character and appeal to students, or those who are studying or learning in an institution. Student unions also serve as the main interest group for student services on the campus, and primarily protest or organize against the slighting of students by the student or faculty governments of the institution; historically, student unions have also participated in student demonstrations against civil government policies, and sometimes participate in pro-labor campus walkouts during labor strikes.
Influence and controversy
The amount of power on the campus gained and wielded by student unions can also be a source of friction between the union (and its members) and the employed non-student officers of the campus (i.e., teachers and faculty, janitors, administrators, staff).
The influence of student unions in campus affairs has come under criticism for its utilization by partisans for political gain through the campus. This has become most pronounced in the largest Commonwealth countries (especially Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India and Nepal), where some of the larger student unions have become politically aligned with different wings of the political spectrum and their corresponding political parties, or have merely become campus wings of the political parties' apparatuses; several members of student unions have gone on to become leading members of parliamentary political parties in Canberra and Wellington.
Student syndicalism and student cooperatives
Student cooperatives may be a feature of student syndicalism by way of the democratic, egalitarian control of education and the resulting economic participation. Student unions may play a negotiative role in the rolling formation of educational curricula and empowerment within the democratic framework of the student-owned/student-taught cooperative school; student unions may also form labor sections (with powers of trade unions) in order to express the collective needs of students who are employed as full-time or part-time workers within the cooperative, and also form part of the safety net which buoys the recently-unemployed students who need to update their own skills and knowledge through education.
Student syndicalism and anarcho-syndicalism
- See also: anarcho-syndicalism and students' unions
- Student Syndicalism? Student Syndicalism!
- Toward a Student Syndicalist Movement, or University Reform Revisited by Carl Davidson, Students for a Democratic Society
- The New Radicals In The Multiversity And Other SDS Writings On Student Syndicalism
- Evergreen State College: Free Student Union
- Student Unionism, from University Affairs Blog
- For Student Power, a blog dedicated to issues of student power and student syndicalism
- Association pour une SolidaritÃ© Syndicale Ã‰tudiante (ASSÃ‰), Canada's largest radical student union