On to Block of 15 candidates

We now move to Block of 15 candidates and their speeches. Block of 15 are essentially regional representives that sit on NUS NEC.

Mark Bergfeld is speaking first. “There is a dividing line in this country,” he says, between the bankes the conservative and the students. He says that the government is attacking the most “vulnerable” in society. “We will not be paying for the crisis that we did not create in the first place,” he says.

Nes Cazimoglu says she is standing for thos students that have been allowed to “drift” away from NUS. She wants every student to feel part of the movement. “Last conference a new movement was born,” she says. “I’ll force NUS to engage our member,” she adds, going on to say that full-time officer should not be the “gatekeepers” of NUS.

Michael Chessum is next to speak. He says that our welfare state is being “torn to shreds” and that we have to be ready to fight and “fight to win.” He says that unless we do so then we risk “losing what our forefathers faught for.” Chessum claims that he has devlieved in practice, as well as in rhetoric. “With or wirthout NUS, we will go back to our campuses and bring this Government down.”

Chris Clark says he comes as an advocate for diversity. He will fight for small and specialist students’ unions, as well as arts students. He also wants to fight for a fairer situation within graduate employment. “Let me represent you,” he says.

Mo Saqib says that NUS is divided but asserts that we are united on many things. “We all have to care about the college student that doesn’t go to university because she doesn’t want to take on the debt,” he says. He says that he will ensure campaigns are able to be run on every campus. He also pledges to represent FE students.

Daniel Cooper, president-elect at RHUL, is a member of workers liberty and NCAFC. “Free education means make the rich and big business pay for services,” he says. He criticises the pay gap between workers and chief executives. He says he is withdrawing from the election to focus on his students’ union, giving support to Chessum and Bergfeld.

Lauren Crowley says she is standing to put access at the heart of NUS. She recounts her own experience of being a carer and collecting EMA. “I had no support or guidence during this time,” she says, adding that she still regrets her university choices. “I know that my story is the story of thousends of others.”

Matt East is the PResident of Anglia Ruskin. He wants to talk about something other than education, cuts and demos. He wants NUS to work locally to build activists. “I will fight every attempt to challenge union legitimacy,” he says. “NUS need to be better at supporting students’ unions to share best practice.”

Lee Gavin says he is the true small and specialist candidate, adding that these institutions are hit the hardest by cuts and that they’re not receiving enough support. “These students and unions are the least engaged with the national union,” he says. He wants to take their issues to the table, “fight and be their voice.”

Charlotte Gerada wants to put “ethics and campaigns” at the centre of NUS. “Now more than ever, the student movement needs to principled,” she says. “SU’s need to practice what they preach,” she adds, citing her fight against LSE’s links with Gaddafi as an example. “Block is about being a voice for students,” she says, adding that it is not about, “internal, factional scraps.”

Ruby Hirsch syas that when it comes to talk of occupations and demos the mood has not been a resolute within NUS as the opinion to oppose cuts more widely. She says that she will be a voice for protest.

Taylor Kane says that many candidates promise many things. She claims to be, “your FE delegate.” She says she has experienced manipulation by colleges against students and that she has had to struggle for support to fight. She wants this support to be more widespread. “I want to fight with and for you,” she says. “I do not back down and I refuse to back down.”

Aaron Kiely says that he is proud to have been on the front line of the protests against fees and cuts. “There is always an alternative,” he says, argueing that we should scrap trident to pay for education. “David Cameron, you will not divide us,” he says. Kiely goes on to give opposition to fascism, racism and sexism and says they are key issues that should be fought against.

Joshua McKenzie says he has been there for students when his college denied their autonomy. He claims to have mobilsed students in HE and FE against the cuts. He is standing for re-election and pledges to fight against cuts and the EDL. He goes to support part-time students. “In your unions, on your campuses, I’ll be there.”

Joe Oliver: “what a year it has been and not in a good way I’m afriad.” He criticises David Cameron for not designing a website that he pledged to do for NUS. He mixes comedy with policy. “I will fight town by town, street by street and cliche by cliche.”

It is only those that have led walkouts that are serious about opposing education reforms, is the message of the next speaker, Ian Pattison. He opposed a BNP society being set up on his campus and passed no platform policy through the union to do so. “We need a national student strike and complete education shut down,” he says.

Surya Prakash Bhatta says rthat if the Government reforms are implemented in full then this will damage education. He says NUS helped him to avoid deportation and fight against his college. “What the coalition government is doing is absolutley disgusting,” he says.

Mary Prescott says she is appalled that NUS’s membership has a majority of FE students but that this is not reflected on conference floor and in the governing structures. “It’s about time we listened to FE students,” she says, adding that she wants to change NUS “culture.”

Liam Preston is a student parent studying a post-graduate degree and “struggling” to do both. He says he was “devestated” that a motion on nurses wasn’t discussed. “We have a chance to improve the lives of students that for some reason often go missed,” he says, adding that NUS continually lets students down.

Zahid Raja says that his time in Swansea SU was spent ensuring the “most vulnerable” had a voice. “I will be the NEC member on your campus, engaging with students,” he says, adding that for every activist NUS reaches there are a thousend more that need to be reached as well. “I’m a truly independent candidate with a record for action,” he says.

Sophie Richardson is standing to “make representation relevant.” She cites widening participation and community organisation as key areas to focus on, as well as greater representation for post-graduates. “How can we preach about widening participation if we don’t do it in NUS,” she says.

Joshua Rowleds poses the question of “Who are we?” to conference. He discusses the divisions between HE and FE, saying that FE should have greater representation within NUS. He moves on to oppose the cuts saying that things will get worde unless “we do something now.”

Rahul Sahni says he is here for every delegate. “For the past year as an activist,” he says that he has spent to past year opposing the BNP. He reminds Cameron to “think twice” before speaking about multiculturalism.

Daniel Stevens is the first international student of Warwick SU. He says international students are seen as “something exotic”, using a creative metephor based around a banana. “How many times have you heard international students mentioned?” he asks, saying that international students deserve a bigger voice.

Rachel Wenstone is up next. “The student movement is too big and too important for any one faction to dominate,” she says. She opposes the “elitist model” of the Government. She says there is an “inherant value” to education. She says she continuelly confronted her VC for “failing students” in his role as chair of the russell group. She says that the “hopelessness” of cuts feeds extemeism and goes on to speak out against the BNP.

Lori Wheatman is “dying for a wee so I’m going to be quick.” She says that she wants to work for “your wants and your needs”, saying that she has already done this on her zone committee. She says she believes in a National Union of Students and that students should be put before factional politics. “Let’s unite together,” she says.

Stevie Wise says that being an NEC member is nothing to do with generalisation and everything to do with specialism. She will focus on widening participation. She says there is an opportunity to re-shape admissions and wants to see an OFFA that is not “toothless.”

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