Category Archives: Comment

What a Clegg-down

The Delegate‘s received a copy of a letter sent to NUS Conference yesterday from Nick Clegg’s office. It’s a shame that it took over a month to get a reply to the NUS, but then, poor Nick is very busy, we suppose.

UJS stall vandalised last night

Liam Burns is currently making a statement to conference after a ‘serious incident’ occurred yesterday.

A stall belonging to the Union of Jewish Students was vandalised last night.

‘Anti-semitism is vile, it is hate and has no place in our movement.’

Burns appears to blame students with grievances about Middle East politics.

Burns throws down the gauntlet – hustings become fraught

Liam Burns has taken an abrasive stance In his opening address of the National President hustings event, singling out Usman Ali for special treatment.

Burns challenged Ali to back up his claims criticisms with what his alternative would be.

**Update 25 April 10:31am**

But it seemed that all candidates were bitten by the backstabbing bug, as Liam continued to challenge his current colleagues as to why they haven’t raised their concerns, or how they can complain about how the NUS is run, when they have been within the Union for at least the last two years.

Ed Marsh noted that he would be a ‘unique’ President, bringing something ‘new’ to the role. He made comments on the fact that he was most recently a student compared to the others, asking ‘when was the last time the others were in education’: with Kanja correcting Ed noting his distance learning status last year.

 

Are unions all about face to face communication?

Two delegates speaks against UD motion supporting moving towards more virtual reality usage within students’ unions.

They believe that unions should be encouraging students to get off their computers, and engage in person with their students union, in the bars, meeting officers. Technologies such as second life are said to also support negative behaviour such as “grooming” and false personas.

Christina Yan Zhang argued in her support speech ‘More than 100 universities using second life for teaching and learning for distance learning. Let’s engage students we traditionally can’t engage’.

The motion went on to pass: we look forward to seeing new ways of engagement facilitated by NUS brought to life throughout the rest of the year. However The Delegate believes there can be more work to be done to encourage non traditional students to engage on campus and with ‘real’ student activity. Let’s explore breaking those boundaries alongside exploring new technology! KCLSU

Claire Locke pulls out of Presidential race

With news just in that NUSNC has lost the only woman in the race for President, I’m left wondering: why, historically, don’t women run for Presidential positions? And is this necessarily a bad thing?

At my home uni of King’s, KCLSU has only seen three female Presidents in the last 90 years. But – at least for the last three years – we don’t have the problem of women not wanting to run. NUS fare slightly better in the number of female Presidents in it’s history, with the most recent female president, Gemma Tumelty, serving a two year term. However, 7 in 90 years is still not anything to shout about. Liam Burns noted that it ‘remains a badge of shame’ that NUS’s first female President took the role only in the 1970s.

But it is NOT not for want of trying. Ladies just don’t seem to want to run. In 2011 no women ran, 2010 saw a close fight between Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Aaron Porter and another male candidate, whilst 2009 was a two man race. Even looking back over the scant archives, whilst there may be a woman’s name here and there, overall there are simply more men – totally out of sync with the actual demographic of students.

So what can we learn from the situation? Is it a bad thing the NUS has not had many female leaders? First of all, all being equal and all, for me Presidents, or any Officers, should certainly be elected on their policy rather than their gender identity. If their gender has informed their policy, well, that’s when things get complicated I suppose, but you should still be able to read manifestos blind, and vote for those who speak most to you.

I would argue that we can clearly see now more than ever that more needs to be done to encourage women to run in the first place: unless we just assume that women don’t want to run, and I for one refuse to believe that. We need to do more to discover what holds women back, or, on the other side of the coin, why we lose intelligent, brilliant women from the student movement, because they’d rather get on with high flying jobs. Student Union roles need to be seen as both attainable, and desireable for everyone… but that is a whole other topic looking at the true perceived effectiveness of unions. I digress. Back to what the NUS can do, whilst the work of the NUS Women’s Campaign has been doing fantastic work for grass roots activism, I look forward to more sessions for all women students in the vein of the ‘I WILL… Lead the Way’ http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/news/article/womensrepresentation/I-WILL-Lead-the-Way-for-Musliim-Women/ programme, which looks like an excellent start for Muslim women. But we need more of this for all women.

And it’s not just the NUS’s responsibility of course. More work need to come centrally, pushing local students’ unions to do more to encourage their female students to run in Sabbatical elections (and not just for the Welfare positions [not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with that]). Practical ideas are needed… any suggestions?

(photo from http://maxwatsonunison.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/elect-claire-locke-1-for-nus-president.html)

NUS magic? #nusnc12

Liam Burns is speaking about “the magic of NUS elections” during his keynote speech. No rousing applause yet in response to that one.

Burns puts the boot into lib dems

NUS National President Liam Burns uses his opening conference speech to take a dig at Liberal Democrats.

‘Two years ago nick clegg and vince cable were political out-lyers, now they are out and out political liers’