Wednesday 28-09-2016 - 09:39
In just over a weeks’ time, Goldsmiths SU will open its doors for the first of our seven Regional Activist Networks. We invited their Education Officer Molly Kneath to blog about why they’re excited to work with local activists to get voices heard and make feelings known.
Beyond practicality and support, networking is amazing for officers as it contextualises the work we do and the work we think is important into a bigger picture.
It instills us with a sense of confidence and reminds us that student politics is about so much more than just what happens on any one campus. We often talk about the fact that our strength lies in our numbers; that we are a movement ‘seven million strong’. This is most evident when our members are empowered to take political action. When they protest, occupy and enliven their respective campuses they cannot be ignored. Whether it be rejecting a colonised curriculum or defending the remnants of a public education system accessible to all, we make headlines.
This doesn’t come out of nowhere. Students’ unions across the country act as a foundation for organising. A network of officers and activists coordinating for a common goal. This is practically impossible if you do not know the other people around you working towards the same ideals. This is why the regional networking events, the first of which is being held at Goldsmiths Students’ Union on Thursday 6 October for London based unions, are invaluable.
So far, 2016 has been one of the most significant (and arguably scary) years for students and people working in education. More than ever we need to collaborate and work across unions to show them that we are not going to stand for this. These regional networks provide us with the opportunity to work with other nearby activists to get our voices heard and our feelings known.
At NUS events and workshops I have attended this year, I have seen unions and officers from across the country collaborating on projects and bouncing ideas off of each other. In this way networking events are beneficial on really practical levels - they provide you with more resources and facilities, and more people-power, not to mention arguments and evidence.
In these spaces plagiarism does not exist, and the sharing of ideas is encouraged and widespread, as one good idea being taken back to different unions could lead to hundreds of new students preparing for and participating in the #Nov19 demo
We can share good practice, ideas and platforms. This was seen in the recent Road to the Demo event held at SOAS, in which students from FE colleges and HE institutions worked together and offered spaces for students to collaborate on projects, from banner making to alternative demo spaces. In these spaces plagiarism does not exist, and the sharing of ideas is encouraged and widespread, as one good idea being taken back to different unions could lead to hundreds of new students preparing for and participating in the #Nov19 demo.
Support is a second crucial reason to get involved with your regional networks.
You may have a campaign you want to run, or an event that needs promotion on your campus, but not know where to look for help. Through having connections with other nearby unions you will be able to call on friends for help, and also maybe get to visit other university’s campuses (which is always fun). We saw this with different officers visiting each other’s Freshers’ Fayres this year and working together to promote a whole host of campaigns that are running this year, from Quality Doesn’t Grow on Fees, to Liberate my Degree, and we even saw hundreds of students signed up to march in the #Nov19 demo. The mutual support that develops through regional networking will only strengthen the work we do.
Though support and resources are incredibly important, it is the confidence and excitement I get from being part of this bigger movement that keeps me going when things get stressful or overwhelming. As I said at the beginning, it places our work into a national and even international context, and makes the work we do all the more meaningful. So here I feel like I should thank all those officers I have met and worked with thanks to networking events - you guys give me life.
The confidence that networking has provided me with is undoubtedly the best reason that students and officers should attend their regional networking events through October in the lead up to the #Nov19 Demo.
Regional Activist Network: London is free to attend and takes place at Goldsmiths Students’ Union on Thursday 6 October from 11am-6pm. Places are limited, so make sure you register online today!