NUS Conference, Glasgow, 27th- 29th March
If you want to take a look at the tweets that was made during conference with more video footage of the policies and elections please follow the @NUSConnect Twitter. The Official hashtag that were used by delegates and candidates was #NUSConference
Chester Students’ Union took 4 delegates to National Conference 2 of which were new delegates; Michael Jones and Leah Dobbs and one; Melanie Greenwood who had attended to represent her FE College but first time representing the University of Chester HE.
National Conference is the chance for over 1000 student/ officer delegates to get elected from their institutions and represent their students on a National Level, to essentially represent the whole student movement of 7 million students. This was a big chance for us to speak, debate and meet other delegates and vote on what is right for our represented students. The motions and policies that were passed at conference were:
- Amendment UD101a: Defend SUs – Stop Victimisation Passed
- Motion UD101: Our Unions have, and always will be, Political
- Amendment UD102a: One size doesn't fit all
- Motion UD102: A new strategy for engaging disability specialist students’ union ? Passed
- Procedural Motion F- UD128 'We want Welsh' ? Passed
- Motion Motion UD105: National Postgraduate Representation ?
- Passed UD103: Media Response Unit ? Passed
- Motion UD Motion UD107: Hello, is it Nightline you're looking for? ? Passed
- 106: Protecting Students in Nightclubs and Bars ? Passed
- Motion UD108: Unions should pay the real living wage, as defined by the Living Wage Foundation ? Passed
- Motion UD110: Updating the Education Act
- Motion UD111: Defending Freedom of Speech ? Passed
- Motion SC101: Ending single use plastics ? Passed
- First motion of Welfare Zone - Motion W101: From The Roots Up ? Passed
- Amendment W101b: Meaningful Mental Health campaigns not Puppy Rooms ? Falls
- Amendment W101c: Supporting officers dealing with student suicide ? Passed
- Amendment W101d: Actual Action on Students Mental Health ? Passed
Guillotine has fallen on the Welfare Zone and it’s now Society and Citizenship.
Some delegates occupied the stage because we were unable to debate on the motions regarding Northern Ireland Abortion and Sex Workers rights. Chester did not get on the stage to occupy, though we agree that motions from the Welfare Zone were dismissed and not spoken of, we have a lot in which we need to get through, and an occupation to waste yet more time in our opinion was not the way. We were indeed unhappy that motions such as the abortion in Northern Ireland and the decriminalisation of sex workers did not get discussed, but the negotiation and agreement was to ensure that these were discussed as a priority at the next NEC (National Executive Committee).
For those who may be questioning if we were part of a ‘faction’ or not, Chester was not. We were purely voting on policies and what is well represented in Chester as opposed to candidate’s personalities. We had a divide in votes within each of the so called factions and we would like to congratulate the following:
Re-elected President, Shakira Martin. Shakira Martin said: “I am honoured and humbled to have been elected as NUS’ National President for a second term. I was elected to listen, learn and lead, now it’s time to get real about what that means both for all forms of education, and what it means for NUS.”
The Re-elected VP FE, Emily Chapman. Emily said: “I will continue to fight for all forms of Further Education to be free and accessible, I will campaign to reduce travel costs with the #MyFEJourney campaign and lobby for FE Maintenance Grants to be introduced, and ensure FE is remembered whenever we talk of loans and fees”.
The Re-elected VP Higher Education, Amatey Doku.
Amatey said: “Over the next year, I will be working tirelessly to deliver a robust plan on Brexit that rejects isolationism and ensure that the Higher Education sector get to grips with tackling the 26% Black Attainment Gap”.
The Re-elected VP Union Development Officer, Ali Milani. Ali said: “I still believe in a Union Development that brings our movement together, develops activists locally and connects our National Union with students at grassroots. We will build a revolutionary movement that is ready to fight on the defining questions of our time”.
Zamzam Ibrahim elected as NUS Vice President (Society and Citizenship) for 2018/19. “Commenting during their election campaign, Zamzam Ibrahim said: “I want to lead a Society & Citizenship Zone that will always defend students like me that will fight for a cohesive, multicultural and just society.
Eva Crossan Jory elected as our next VP for Welfare, she said: “I stand for a transformative Welfare Zone, one that fosters communities of care on each campus and mobilises collective action against austerity and oppression.
“We continue to live in a society which does not address sexual violence against women, I will prioritise working with the NUS Women’s Campaign to establish ‘Against Sexual Violence’ campaigns on every campus, whilst also supporting NUS’s own policies regarding sexual violence and those of SUs across the UK. Alongside this I will also prioritise housing, supporting those estranged by guarantor schemes and forwarding rent strikes due to my own previous successes whilst President of Goldsmiths SU. As we face continuing austerity measures we must continue to work collectively as students to overcome poverty.”
Overall, Chester will be working through the motions and looking into the policies in which we abide by at Chester Students’ Union.
NUS in relation to Chester
Against Sexual Violence: After receiving 10K of HEFCE funding to provide us with a full time dedicated project manager in the University and ‘up skilling’ 8 first response staff in the University and Students’ Union in supporting them to become accredited Sexual Violence Liaison Officers, to in turn strengthen their roles to provide the best support for students. We have increased awareness about reporting sexual violence and misconduct, we have continued to campaign and support students who have been victims and survivors nad worked with key local charities. We have more promotion, provisions and awareness on campus through the Ask for Angela, mentors, Student Futures, the sexual violence taskforce and the Students’ Union.
Meaningful Mental Health campaigns not Puppy Rooms: though this motion fell, Chester felt strongly about this and felt that in Chester Puppy rooms are very popular and yes it does not fix all problems, but it is a popular event and a social experience for more students to visit their Students’ Union and have a break from their studies. We always have, as a Union, lobbied for better wellbeing provisions for students and listened to students on their experiences of the wellbeing services. It is important that we keep updating the policies we abide for during a time when mental health is one of the most prominent issues within HE, not just with students. It is vital that we work with all elements and keep activities like doggy de-stress, to keep it new and attractive for students to engage with.
Nightline: From the National motion for supporting nightline within Students’ Unions, we have had an active Student Council member lobby for a nightline service from the VC to provide. After many discussions with Student Futures and other staff members it is clear that we think the nightline should exist within the Students’ Union; however this would mean additional staff members to help run the service with volunteers, so timing and planning is vital for this initiative if the Trustees agree to go ahead. However, Student Futures have tried to set up a night line and unfortunately did not get enough time and dedication from students to run the nightline in the past. From more discussions for more efficient training plans and provisions, we will see if Chester Students’ Union are able to provide such service for students.
Living Wage: We have already been in discussions with the Trustees to look at providing all of our student staff with the real living wage. 1. Because this is the right thing to do for students and 2. It would make our jobs more attractive for students. Once we have looked at our financial position we should be implementing this for our students.
Plastics: We have already made the initiative to partake in the national campaign for the #laststraw and local campaign in Chester to stop using Plastics. We have straws available behind the bar and have looked at buying cost effective paper straws.
Please keep up to speed with Chester Students’ Union’s social media and website at www.chestersu.com . We have many more campaigns and opportunities for students to get involved in and be aware of to better your student experience and inspire you to be happy and healthy.
Melanie Greenwood, delegate from the Warrington campus said: Conference was an interesting and positive experience with motions and policies voted on that will improve students experiences and student unions across the UK including Chester. I passed policies and motions with students in mind, especially Chester and our satellite campuses.
Michael Jones has been a very active delegate for Chester on social media and has provided some of his points from the conference in relation to Chester. Michael Jones said: "National Conference was an experience like no other! You really feel part of the student movement, and at the heart of the changes we are experiencing in HE. Engaging in democracy and representing seven million students is so empowering, and it is so important this year as we face many challenges ahead. I would recommend it to anyone. Don't just make a difference, but be that difference."