Thursday 24-11-2016 - 13:35
Ah, #LoveSUs day. My (and possibly a lot of the movement’s) favourite day of the year. Conceived in the shadow of last year’s HE Green Paper and thinly-veiled attacks on students’ unions, it’s our way of showing the love and admiration for students’ unions across UK society. This year it’s on Friday 2 December.
Some called it fluffy. Some called it soft. A social media stunt, nothing more.
But last year we harnessed deep affection for students’ unions by students, stakeholders, alumni and civil society and we achieved a remarkable thing. We scared the government off from thinking attacking students’ unions would be an easy fight.
#LoveSUs has one goal – to show the impact and influence of students’ unions. How we change lives. How we change society. There’s nothing soft about that.
The hyperbolic nature of the student movement dictates I tell you that *this* year is the most important. When we will have the biggest impact. When our ideals and values have never been more under threat.
But I don’t need to use exaggeration. The world has given us it. Brexit and Trump are not the clarion calls of anti-globalisation working classes. It was an abandonment of collectivism. Of the idea that working together, with people different from you – with compromise and negotiation – that we can all make our lives better.
Hilary Clinton’s slogan? ‘Stronger Together’.
The United Kingdom? Going it alone.
The idea that isolating yourself from others, and not working together, has now penetrated our education sector in the most corrosive ways.
But our student movement bucks the trend. We want to make society better for everyone. We promote equality and collectivism in society. We champion great education accessible to all.
It’s clear we don’t fit naturally into the new landscape.
Look at what’s happening - FE Area Reviews in England where Learner Voice is an afterthought, to the numerous ways students voices have been shut out of shaping the HE and Research Bill; to Northern Ireland where SUs have no protection under the law – learners are bottom of the pile in shaping our own education.
The power of the student movement is that we stick together and look out for each other. We work through students’ unions – bastions of fun, effective, radical, progressive action in the UK. That’s what power looks like.
- Please do send tweets and selfies for #LoveSUs day. They’re brilliant.
- But also get your local MP to sign a statement saying they see the impact of your SU.
- Ask everyone around you to share why they #LoveSUs - maybe they love the difference your SU makes now, or their own experience 5, 10 or 30 years ago.
- Get your Principal or VC to talk about how they believe learner voice is fundamental to excellent education.
- Run events with your students to talk about the power of students’ unions.
Let’s build a coalition that sees students’ unions as crucial to the future and will rally around in times of need. They may be closer than we think.
Truly, deeply, madly,