Malia's Diary: It's Conference Season

Thursday 30-03-2017 - 14:38

It's the busiest time of year for many students, as well as most of us at NUS. Here are a few highlights of what I’ve been up to this week.

Muslim News Awards

This week I was honoured to be aware the prize for Good Citizenship at the Muslim News Awards for Excellence. The award cited our work on opposing the government’s Prevent strategy, and working to diversify and decolonise our curriculum. This is not just an award for me personally, but goes out to all the dedicated activists within our movement that make what we do possible.

It is a great privilege to work with you towards achieving a free, fair and liberated education for all.

Liber8: Tackling Mental Health

On Friday, we held our Liber8 Mental Health Campaign Day with the NUS Disabled Students' Campaign. Officers and student activists came together to discuss how to fight against stigma and for adequate services and support on campuses. I unfortunately wasn’t able to be there in person, but was glad to address one of the sessions via Skype. Sessions included discussions of the causes of poor mental health amongst students, and how to organise to win better support but also tackle those issues. I believe that poor student mental health has become a crisis, and tackling it needs to be a priority for our movement. 

This was followed on Saturday by our 'Distress and the Diaspora' National Conference, on mental health in racialised communities, which was likewise, a huge success. It was really inspiring to see so many impressive activists come together to discuss the specific issues around mental health that are encountered by people of colour. If we want to take tackling mental health seriously, it is important that we develop a deep understanding of its impact on different communities. This event was a really positive step in that direction.

We have been holding a series of #Liber8 Campaign Days to organise around key student issues. Check out the five things we learnt from the Housing away day here.

All the Conferences…

Women’s Conference is always one of my favourite events of the year, and this year I was happy to attend the event in Solihull and address it as your National President. I shared my experience of the challenges I have faced in our movement and in wider society, as a migrant, a woman of colour and a woman of faith. I believe we have to recognise the many intricacies and diversities within our movement, and our women’s spaces need to reflect that. Too often in the past, I have felt forced to choose between my gender and my Muslim identity. To that end, I was heartened to see such a diverse set of workshops and discussions this year, truly reflecting the intersections that exist within our movement.

I would also like to congratulate Hareem Ghani on her re-election as our Women’s Officer for 16/17, and to Sarah Lasoye on her election as the NUS NEC Women’s 2nd place. Thank you to all the delegates and candidates who took part this year made it such an inspiring conference. 

I was also pleased to spend the end of last week at NUS Scotland in Dundee. There were some really vibrant discussions about how to meet the challenges ahead, and my warm congratulations go to those elected - Jodie Waite, Luke Humberstone, Zeyad Rashad Nus and Elena Semple. Also, thanks to those delegates who gently coaxed me into my first ever Ceilidh, I can safely say I am now addicted!

Next week, NUS-USI will be launching the outcome of their ‘Student Wellbeing Survey’ at their Annual Conference on the 4-5 April. This is a really important piece of work and over 3,600 students have responded, so keep an eye out for that!

In respect, peace and solidarity,

Malia Bouattia NUS National President


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