Friday 02-10-2015 - 12:32
Liberation Activist Days are coming up, find out why they changed my perception of activism and how I became the campaigner I am today.
I remember first being elected as President of my LGBT society at Plymouth. I wasn’t really ‘political’ at all (how times change) – but I knew I wanted to make and campaign for change. Now, loads of people often ask me why I ran to be NUS LGBT+ officer. That same idea still stands true; I want to build a grassroots movement for LGBT activism that fights and makes change happen.
When people think of an activist we always think about megaphones and placards. For some people that’s a pretty intimidating prospect. Scared of public speaking and the thought of loud, large crowds? It’s enough to put anyone off. But activism can be and is so much more than this.
An activist can be someone who takes motions to their union council, or organises campaigns and stunts on campus. An activist can even be someone who helps support campaigns online or just someone who quietly lobbies their friends and families over a pint or round the dinner table. Being an activist is just as much about changing peoples’ minds as it is demanding change.
I want to make sure that we are doing our best for all students who want to create change, no matter how they want to do it.
I still remember my first activist training day. I was nervous and wasn’t sure I was 100% what the LGBT movement needed. But the activist training programme has changed since I have come into my role as LGBT officer, because I wanted to make sure that we are doing our best for the activists on the ground. I want to really showcase the many ways that you can influence change on your campus.
So you don’t have to be the president of your society or the LGBT officer to get involved in activism. But getting involved is the best way to campaign for change and ensure that we are still actively campaigning against the systematic oppression of the LGBT community or challenge the institutional or structural barriers to LGBT participation in education.
Activist training over the years has taught me how to campaign, lobby and win. As soon as I got back from that first activist day I ended up running a campaign on getting gender neutral toilets in my union. Guess what? We won. And we went on to run one of the most successful LGBT history months that Plymouth had ever seen and our numbers got stronger and stronger because of it.
Activist training made a leader in liberation. One of my proudest moments was creating a campaign around the Sochi Olympic Games in Russia where we managed to get 450 signatures in just 4 hours. Students forced our MPs in Plymouth to speak out against the abhorrent treatment of the LGBT community in Russia.
I want that same experience for every LGBT student. I want to make sure that NUS is still training its students to create change not just within their students’ union, but also for society as a whole.
Don’t miss out and make sure that you attend one of the training events so that we can keep on campaigning – but more importantly, winning.