Friday 20-11-2015 - 15:35
Blog from Simon Blake, NUS Chief Executive
On Monday 23 November, NUS is calling on all of us to say why students' unions are so important. It is #LoveSUs day and the NUS team responding to the Higher Education Green Paper will use all the experiences and evidence as part of their response.
Some of you will know how brilliant my experience was at Cardiff from various presentations over the past six months. I did my undergraduate degree at Cardiff University. In freshers week I used the Union for the bank, the bookshop and to sort out my insurance. By day three I started becoming a frequent user of the Tafern, Hanging Gardens and Terminal 396 (bars and clubs). I also signed up to become a member of the horse riding club, the ski club and the squash club.
Later I tried to learn Welsh, helped set up the Sexual Health Awareness Group, became a member of the Student Union Council, President of the Horse Riding Club, competing in inter-university competitions and of course the LGB Society (as it was at the time). Latterly I ran for election for Education and Welfare. I came second to a different Simon - Simon Wright. I wish I had been his campaign manager - you couldn't have made it up! ('Choose the Wright Simon - Simon Wright')
I was the first person in my family to go to university and I didn't really have much idea what to expect. I couldn't imagine it and had I been able to imagine it I don't think I would have guessed I would do or be able to do those things. But the opportunities, the people and the ethos of the Student Union made it possible to try things, to try different ways of being me and to learn what I liked, what I was interested in and who I was.
Some of the people I met at Cardiff Students' Union remain my best friends now 20 years on. We have stayed together as our lives have ducked and dived. We have guided and helped each other through highs and lows. We remain connected by a university experience that was enriched beyond all imagination by the union.
Day in and day out, SUs across the UK provide life changing opportunities for countless others. I knew it anyway but since starting at NUS friends who have never really talked about their SU have started telling me how important it was to their educational experience.
So I #LoveSUs because my experience at Cardiff was life changing and helped me to stand with my shoulders back, happy with who I was and who I wanted to be, and (almost) ready to take on the world.
We would love to hear why you #LoveSUs - tweet us your stories @nusuk or visit http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/winning-for-students/campaigns/lovesus