Monday 24-04-2017 - 11:00
As we get ready for NUS’ annual National Conference, which is taking place this week in Brighton, it is important to remember that all our spaces, online and offline, should be free from harassment, discrimination and prejudice and we want you to help us do this.
Along with over a thousand other people in the student movement, I am preparing myself for the week ahead. I am both excited and nervous about the next few days. Excited because it’s a great opportunity to discuss and debate issues that matter to us as students, and to spend time and network with people who are passionate about students’ rights and really do want to change education and our society for the better. Nervous because it’s hugely important, but also because when we take to public platforms and participate in our democracy through debates and elections, social media erupts and becomes unknown territory, sometimes descending into avoidable chaos and upset. This can threaten our opportunity to hold respectful debate and holds us to a level of accountability and scrutiny that goes way beyond reasonable expectations of us as student leaders.
For some time, I’ve wanted to explore how we, the student movement, can use our collective power to make a positive mark on social media and define the unwritten rules of how we can confidently use online spaces as a tool for sharing and networking, without prejudice. This is because I am proud to be part of a movement that I can see stands up against injustice and delivers outstanding work for the greater good, but this must resonate across all our mediums, and be demonstrated in our actions and behaviours both offline and online. Our spaces, physical and virtual, are important and crucial to our work and should be inclusive and accessible to all. There is no space for hate.
It is with this in mind that I am reaching out to you all and asking you to help me. In fact, I’m asking you if we can help each other.
NUS has produced some tips on how we can manage our social media over the coming days, which you can find here and we will have copies available at National Conference. These tips are short and easy to follow and I think they will help us all to manage the spaces we occupy much better, taking into consideration each other’s accessibility and wellbeing. As well as us all benefiting from this, wouldn’t it be great if we could prove what a difference we can make when we work together to create healthy spaces and lead by example on how this can be done? And if we can do this at one of our biggest events, then we can do it anywhere.
So whether you’re at conference this week or watching it from afar, please keep it social online and let’s share and network respectfully - I am sure we will all have a much better experience if we do.