The student movement has been my home since I was 16 years old. I have organised against sexual violence since college and together we have marched against student fees and as a member of the black students campaign I have continued to fight racism on our campuses. You have elected me once to serve on your National Executive Council, and now I ask you again to elect me as your National President. I will energise, equip and mobilise the grassroots of our movement to drive forward our vision of a truly free, accessible and lifelong education.
Nominated by: Hamsavani Rajeswaren, Queen's University Belfast Students' Union; Lubaba Khalid, University of Westminster Students' Union; Barbara Pereira, Leeds Beckett Students' Union; Aoife Clarke, Heriot-Watt University Student Union; Fraser Amos, Warwick Students' Union; Muna Ali, Union of Kingston Students; Sarah Lasoye, Students' Union UCL; Mohammad Kadham, Cardiff University Students' Union
My name is Larissa, and the student movement has been my home since I was 16 years old. I have organised against sexual violence since college and, together, we have marched against student fees. As National President, I want to see NUS into its 100th year, and secure it for another 200!
This is a turning point for our national union. In the last 100 years, NUS has campaigned against Apartheid, introduced liberation campaigns and stood against war. In the next century, we must respond to the plans to destroy education, challenge the growing far right and mobilise to respond to the climate catastrophe. We need to build a movement that stretches across the whole of the UK, across Students’ and Trade Unions across the world. Together, that is the movement we can build.
My Activist Experience
● NUS National Executive Council and Black Students Campaign Committee
● Education Officer and Deputy President of Warwick Students’ Union
● Advocacy and Campaigns Officer for Plan International, a global gender equality charity
● Tuwezeshe Akina Dada Fellow, working against gender-based violence internationally
● Elected to British Youth Council’s Trustee Board
● Former President of Warwick Anti-Racism Society and Anti-Sexism Society
Rebuilding Power in the Nations and Regions - We have a common interest as students but the problems we face differ, from North to South, Wales to Scotland and Northern Ireland, and our Union needs to do more to support students across our regions and nations. To do this, we will:
● Introduce regional bootcamps for student organisers - for the first time including activists and officers together
● Work with regional community organisations to co-develop supplementary schools where FE and HE students working to drive change can pass on their tools and skills
Reclaiming our National Power - The sector is in crisis, from college funding being cut year on year to our higher education institutions continually putting profit before students. Failure to take action now will devastate us for the future. If elected I will:
● Campaign to bring back EMA and increase FE funding.
● Work in collaboration with the National Society of Apprentices for better pay and conditions, stronger protections against harassment, and genuine involvement with the NUS
● Push back on precarity - create a network of postgrads and student staff to work alongside UCU and other trade unions to make conditions better in education for all.
● Build collective resistance to dismantling of small, specialist universities.
● Reject the higher tariff placed on STEM courses.
● Fight for Free Education and to democratise our Colleges, Universities and Unions.
Further Education and Apprentices - Over 70% of our membership are in FE. With severe funding cuts and staff losses the fights within FE and HE are often seen as separate, I will unite our fights to ensure we fight together for a stronger education system that benefits us all. I will:
● Ensure NUS events include Apprentices, FE students and introduce travel bursaries
● Work with our VP FE to tackle the attainment gap and the pay disparity for apprenticeships
● Involve the National Society of Apprentices in our democratic structures, fight for free travel, better wages, stronger protections against harassment and more opportunities.
Welfare, Housing and Mental Health - From extortionate rents to mental health crises, across HE and FE students are being let down. NUS must fight to ensure our mental health support is culturally competent and the transition from CAMHS to adult services is made easier. I will:
● Fight for not for profit halls and genuinely affordable housing.
● Support student housing campaigns, building regional links to renters’ unions, educating students on their renting rights and empowering them to fight dodgy landlords.
● Ensure accommodation is genuinely accessible to disabled students.
● Ensure institutions become guarantors for international students.
Supporting International Students and ending the Hostile Environment - The current environment of xenophobia, amplified by the election, is having an insidious impact on international students’ lives and rights. Working with the International Students’ Campaign, I will:
● Campaign against fees, fee rises and the NHS surcharge that international students face
● Resist securitisation and the Prevent Duty, conducting research into its effects on student organisers
● Pushing for a full-time International Students Officer after reform
● Fight to stop deportations, close detention centres, and demand justice over Windrush
No more harassment and violence on our campuses - We must not relent in the fight against hate crime, sexual harassment and racial harrassment on our campuses. I’ve galvanised students across campus to fight sexism and racism, and, as your President, I will do it across the country.
● Campaign for Universities to go beyond the data-led, and dehumanising, ‘hate crime’ narrative, and to address the ways that its existing reporting structures denying students support, when they need it most.
● Providing co-created frameworks for robust responses to all forms of sexual and gender-based, racist, homophobic, ableist violence, that acknowledge how these injustices are reproduced by institutions - including guidance for restorative justice (where appropriate)
● Lobbying the government to act upon the recommendations of the Youth Select Committee Inquiry into serious violence, to actively tackle how knife crime impacts access to further education
International Solidarity - To make the case and realise our aims for climate justice, free education and social justice, we must combine our voices with the power of students who share this vision across the world. As your President, I will make international solidarity a reality on:
● Climate justice - The global south is already bearing the brunt of the climate emergency, we must act now. Current trends and plans show that the global south will be devastated in the next few decades, with decisions made by our government.
● Free education - I will work with national unions across the world to host a global rally for education, connecting to those fighting for free, accessible, lifelong education. around the world. We must also connect our struggles for decolonisation, demilitarisation and divestment and co-producing research and resources to resist the dilution of these campaigns, and make the case amongst other students and with the university.
● Global social justice issues - I will support and connect students and unions exposing universities’ complicity in issues like the slave trade and redressing these wrongs through curricula and financial reparations.