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NUS must change and we have the opportunity to change it now

Friday 21-04-2017 - 17:56

NUS full-time officers sign an open letter in support of the proposals to change NUS democracy and political culture, which are being brought to National Conference next week.

NUS is nearly 100 years old. It was designed by the student body of 100 years ago, in the social, educational and political context of a hundred years ago. Students and society have changed dramatically since then - and yet the way NUS makes democratic decisions has largely stayed the same.

We live in a world that is rapidly changing. The old institutions that founded NUS no longer reflect the student body. The meaning of ‘student’ has changed from an elite few to a multitude of seven million. Education has been transformed by the impacts of expansion and marketisation. The economy has crashed, Britain voted Brexit. Politics has become more polarized and prone to populism. The power to make decisions on student issues like education, housing and health doesn’t just exist in Westminster any more but also in new parliaments in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. The world feels different to how it did one year ago, let alone a hundred.

Our democracy remains centralised, expensive and complicated. The issues we talk about centrally aren’t always relevant to our members in Nations; our new members in colleges and work-based learning are shut out by the money, time and experience required to participate and our complex processes are full of specialist language and focus on what divides us instead of what unites us.

And so we fight each other when we should be fighting for a just and sustainable future. When we fight each other we lose: cuts to education and social services continue, discrimination is on the rise and our mental health is deteriorating.

If we want to make a difference in society, the rules of the game have to change. Because although changing our decision-making structures alone won’t fix NUS’ culture, we cannot fix our culture without structural change. We have to remove the barriers to participation, we have to organise collectively, we have to operate federally, we have to listen to each other, we have to prioritise, we have to be accountable and we have to make sure that everyone has a voice and that every member matters.

We must be united, we must be undaunted and believe that we are better than this, that we can do things differently. That’s why we’ll be voting for change and a new democracy at NUS National Conference 2017.

Signed,
Malia Bouattia, National President
Shakira Martin, Vice President (Further Education)
Sorana Vieru, Vice President (Higher Education)
Rob Young, Vice President (Society & Citizenship)
Richard Brooks, Vice President (Union Development)
Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland President
Rob Henthorn, NUS Scotland Vice President (Education)
Angela Alexander, NUS Scotland Women’s Officer
Fllur Elin, NUS Wales President 2016/2017
Carmen Smith, NUS Wales Deputy President
Ellen Jones, NUS Wales Women’s Officer
Fergal McFerran, NUS-USI President
Aadam Muuse, Black Students' Officer
James Elliott, Disabled Students’ Officer
Mostafa Rajaai, International Students’ Officer
Melantha Chittenden, LGBT+ Officer (Women's Place)
Noorulann Shahid, LGBT+ (Open Place)
Hareem Ghani, Women’s Officer

You can add your name to the open letter in support of changing NUS democracy and political culture below.

Andy Harmon, Manchester Metropilitan Students' Union NUS Delegate
Corey Briffa, St George's Students' Union President
Dom Smithies, University of York Students' Union Community & Well-being Officer
Katy Hughes, Bangor University Students' Union Mature Student Councillor
Lucy Woodcock, University of Bath Students' Union President
Mairi-Frances McKay, University of Lincoln Students' Union Labour Society
Martyn Brown, NUS Disabled Students Committee Open Place
Piers Wilkinson, NUS Wales Students with Disabilities Officer
Rosie McKenna, Edge Hill Students' Union Women's Officer
Tara Aladegbamigbe, University of Bedfordshire Students' Union President
Zain Ismail, City University London Students' Union Vice President Education
Zander Lavall, St Mary's University Students' Union President

 

 

 

 

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