Friday 05-02-2016 - 17:32
Here is Beth Button, NUS Wales President's speech that she gave during the National Voter Registration Day
Good Afternoon, I am Beth Button, President of NUS Wales.
I am proud to be here this afternoon to be a part of the Wales2016,
But more importantly I am incredibly proud to be a leader of the student movement in Wales in 2016.
The student movement in Wales is a diverse one, it represents people from all walks of life, and it also represents some of the people least likely to register to vote.
During my time at NUS Wales, I have grown tired of hearing that students and young people are “disengaged” and not interested in politics. That isn’t the reason they aren’t voting.
I’ve witnessed something quite different to disengagement.
Students mobilised around tragic issues like the refugee crisis.
They have found their voices in the debate over benefits.
They care about issues and not just the ones that they are at the centre of.
They care about their communities.
Education breeds individuality and passion for issues.
What students will not do is turn out, en-masse, just out of a sense of civic duty.
We’ll turn out to vote if we are part of the democratic process,
a partner in how our democracy works.
Those in power must also show they care about earning students’ votes.
Democracy must be accessible and acknowledge the barriers that young people face, we must see ourselves reflected in the Assembly.
Most of all, in a movement as broad and diverse as ours, parties must make an effort to not only “speak” to students, but make them part of the process and develop an offer for young people together.
If they do not, they cannot claim it is us that are “disengaged”
So we are asking politicians from all parties to come forward with an offer for all students and young people - one which values our voice and recognises what we offer society. Not just in economic terms, but in social terms too.
Over the coming weeks, I intend to continue to work hard to help students in Wales understand the influence the Assembly has over their lives, I will campaign to make sure students are registered to vote and visit their polling stations the 5th May.
There is a momentum in young people that has been steadily increasing, since the Scottish Referendum, through to the General Election, I want to be able to maximise on this political interest and insure that National Assembly Election 2016 is a landmark one.
My term as President ends shortly after the National Assembly for Wales Elections. In June I want to look back at an election that had a voter turnout that not only represented the diverse population of Wales but one that sees more young people make their voices at the ballot box than ever before.