Thursday 23-03-2017 - 00:00
As we step into spring this week, I’ve been revisiting the many questions surrounding Brexit, liberating housing, leading our education activist campaign day and acting against the #MuslimWomenBan. Plus, I'll be travelling to Scotland for their biggest democratic event of the year.
Questioning Brexit - our demands
I am pleased to be invited to ‘The People’s Question Time: Brexit – What Are Our Demands?’ event in Bristol today. I’ll be speaking on a panel about the impacts of Brexit on students; from funding and research, to rising hate crime on the streets, and why community organising is so important now more than ever. My fellow panellists included director of 'I, Daniel Blake' Ken Loach, Lawrence Hill Councillor Hibaq Jama, Cotham Councillor Cleo Lake, journalist and broadcaster Giles Fraser and John Rees of The People's Assembly.
Last week I said that I would share a more detailed report of the Trump, Brexit and Beyond event, which you can now find here.
Liberating housing, education and acting against the #MuslimWomenBan
On Wednesday I went to the Liber8 Housing Campaign Day at the University of the Arts London.
It was a fantastic opportunity for students and officers to meet up and talk about housing. I hosted the event alongside Vice President (Welfare) Shelly Asquith. We discussed key housing concerns, upcoming plans and campaigns, resources that would be needed (particularly for the upcoming summer training for SU officers) and how to share best practice through NUS platforms. I was also joined by representatives from Shelter, the Mayor of London's office and the Living Rent Campaign – with delegates from London, south, Midlands and Scotland.
The Liber8 education activist campaign day was a great success. Thank you to Sheffield Hallam University Students’ Union for hosting us! The sessions included: ‘Education activism: what’s next?’ panel; Liberate the curriculum: how to make what you’re taught and how you’re taught at your university work for all students; NSS boycott: the final push; Effective campaigning skills workshops; Students not consumers: the role of students in creating excellent teaching and learning.
Vice President (Higher Education) Sorana Vieru joined me to discuss the next steps for the HE bill, what quality teaching looks like, making education accessible and liberated. We also heard from Sheffield Students’ Union, Sheffield Hallam SU activists and officers about their local education campaigns.
On Monday I sent a message of solidarity to our colleagues in the Danish Student Federation who are fighting new legislation. That effectively sets an education ceiling preventing students from taking a second degree within a six year period. To me this restricts students’ ability to react to the fast changing environment we live in. Lifelong learning is crucial. The new law impacts on students currently enrolled on courses. It is estimated it will result in a 25% drop out rate.
Last week a decision was taken by the European court of justice to allow the hijab to be banned in the workplace. Throughout the year, several universities across Belgium unilaterally and unlawfully attempted to enforce a hijab-ban in their institutions. The ban on ‘religious symbols’ disproportionally affects muslim women and structurally prevents them from entering, continuing and achieving in university spaces. In the University of Liege, 13 veiled muslim students won a legal battle against their university to revert the hijab-ban. #MuslimWomenBan
I spoke at a ‘Tackling Gender Based Islamophobia’ event alongside Kawthar Omary, a Student’s Union officer at the University of Liege and one of the 13 women leading the campaign #OpenSchool4Women. We staged a solidarity action led by Forum for European Muslim Youth and Organisations (FEMYSO) to mobilise people against this institutional Islamophobia.
NUS had its first meeting with the Chinese Students and Scholars Association UK about the issues affecting 150,000 Chinese students studying in the UK, as well as the current attacks on international students. I look forward to working with Cen Zhang (UK CSSA President), Yinbo Yu (NUS NEC) and Wei Meng (UK CSSA Secretary) in the upcoming months.
Attending NUS Scotland’s biggest democratic event
Tomorrow marks the start of NUS Scotland Conference in Dundee. This is Scotland’s biggest democratic event of the year, where they will be debating and voting on policy, as well as electing their President and Vice President’s for 2017-18. Good luck to all of the candidates and I’ll see you there!
In respect, peace and solidarity
NUS National President