Friday 13-05-2016 - 10:00
Latisha Gordon, a third year Politics Student and campaigns lead for Students for Europe at University of Sussex tells us what she has been up to ahead of the EU referendum next month.
At Sussex, most of what we have been doing centres on getting students registered to vote in time for the EU referendum and encouraging them to vote to stay IN. We’re finding that most students we speak to are pro-EU, however many are on the fence, it is these students we are trying to target.
I first got involved with Students for Europe a couple of months ago, when I was given the opportunity to start a Sussex university branch of SFE, as a Politics student and lover of campaigns, I knew this is something I wanted to do. I’m aware of the merits that come along with remaining in the European Union (free movement, Erasmus, research funding to UK universities, investment and jobs), and feel that it’s really important to reach out to those students who are firstly, completely disengaged with politics and the EU referendum, and secondly have not registered to vote. Because at the end of the day, the results of the referendum will not only have a direct impact on students, but it will effect young people the most, and the outcome will affect the next 20 or 30 years of UK international relations.
Recently I read an article which said we could end up leaving the EU if young people fail to vote. So, despite the majority of young people having a pro-EU stance, we need to mobilise as many as possible and get them registered. This would be my advice to student officers and young activists – make sure that young people have a voice in the upcoming referendum, which, will ultimately effect 18-25 year olds the most.
In terms of events on campus, Sussex SFE have put on socials, pro-EU talks, the Big EU Debate (in collaboration with Sussex EUsoc and DebateSoc) with prominent politicians from both the vote IN and vote OUT camps (although I have to say I think the vote IN won that debate).
We generally campaign around campus handing out leaflets, talking to people about the benefits of the EU, challenging those who support Brexit. Sometimes we get into heated debates, I think it’s important to remember that the EU is by no means perfect, and you will get students across the political spectrum arguing why we should leave (e.g. “look what happened to Greece, the EU is undemocratic”…) and it’s important to prepare for these responses. However, at the end of the day, at SFE we believe the benefits of the EU far outweigh the costs, and it’s therefore better to remain in and change the EU than to leave and jump into a pool of uncertainty.
These are my tips for getting students to engage in your EU referendum campaign:
- Visibility – this is the most important! Social Media presence is key. Use resources like T-shirts, badges, leaflets, etc as this will get people talking
- Host events on campus and in town. Collaborate with as many societies and groups as possible and get support from your Student’s Union. It also helps if you can get external speakers involved.
- Socials – a very informal way of getting students engaged (Sussex SFE are planning on having a Eurovision party this week)
- Use your Students’ Union- University Radio shout-outs, pro-EU articles for your students newspaper, organised lecture shout outs.
NUS is campaigning for an In vote in the EU referendum because your students’ unions mandated us to do so. Find out more about our We Want In campaign here.