Students plan their road to the demo
Plans for the NUS national demonstration took another step forward last week when students from around the country attended the ‘Road to the Demo’ event at the University of Manchester students’ union.
The day started with Liam Burns giving a speech to delegates, where he reiterated the purpose for the demonstration, and stressed the importance of union officers effectively mobilising students on their campuses and campaigning locally.
After Burn’s opening speech, delegates heard from Piers Telemacque, President of Bradford College Students’ Union on how they have been planning for the demo, and what activities they have lined to up to ensure that their students are well informed of the issues and are ready to take collective action. Following Bradford’s presentation, officers from Liverpool Guild, Liverpool Students’ Union, and Liverpool Hope Students’ Union, on how they are working together to bring a target of 1000 students from the city by sharing best practice and resources.
The first session of the afternoon focussed on the meaning behind the strapline ‘Educate, Employ, Empower’, and delegates discussed how this message could be debated on campus to ensure the students understood its relevance and build it in to their local campaigns. This session led into a group discussion focussing on the potential barriers to students participating in the demonstration.
After lunch, delegates attended a plenary on ‘A Future That Works’, presented by TUC organiser James Mckenna. During the plenary, James explained how the TUC are building and mobilising for their own demonstration, scheduled to be held on Saturday 20th October.
After an update and Q&A session on demo safety, delegates returned to group work to brainstorm ideas on how they can effectively mobilise students to ensure they attend the demo. This was followed by an opportunity for delegates to split in to regions so that they could plan local coordinated actions and discuss logistical issues with neighbouring unions.
Afternoon discussions returned to barriers to the demo, this time focussing on how unions could overcome them, and what could be put in place to ensure that student participation towards the demo was as accessible as possible.
Liam Burns then wrapped the event up by delivering a closing speech, thanking those delegates that attended, and reminding them that to succeed, we have to act collectively.
The event was well received by attendees. When asked about what she was going to take away from the day, Karina Clarke from Blackpool and The Fylde College said “I found the opportunity to discuss ideas with other people to be invaluable, and it’s given me loads of food for thought about how I can ensure my union is ready to inform its members about the importance of this demo”. Anthony Haddley from Leeds University Union said “Highlighting the main barriers to the demo was a really useful exercise and helped us identify some potential hurdles that we previously hadn’t thought of but can now prepare for dealing with”.
#Demo2012: Educate, Employ, Empower takes place on Wednesday 21st November.