A NEW AGE FOR THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2017 – DANNY NASR

The Norwich Radical was born in the student movement, and we continue to play an active role within it. We recognise that while official structures are not the sum total of the movement, they are undeniably important. After a momentous year for the National Union of Students, studying it is more important than ever for understanding the political consciousness of the student movement. As we move into election season for the new NUS President, Vice Presidents and National Executive Council, we contacted all candidates in those elections and offered them the space to write about their election campaigns, why they are standing and their vision for NUS.

Submissions are unedited, and are being published in the order we receive them. This candidate is standing for Vice President (Society & Citizenship).

I’m currently the president of Goldsmiths Students’ Union and sit on both the NUS Executive Council, as the Higher Education Zone second place, and on the NUS international students campaign committee. Previously I was the Education officer and acting president at Goldsmiths Union. When three of my fellow sabbatical officers resigned, I spent the last half of that year trying to rebuild the union to where it is today. Fortunately, I now run the union with three amazing women sabbatical officers. Before coming to Goldsmiths I lived in my home country Lebanon, where I set up a community organised school for Syrian refugees in 2014 and was active in the civil rights movement.

During the last two years much of the activism that I’ve been apart involved standing up for migrants and refugees and fighting cuts our public services. As a migrant, I have felt the brunt of toxic immigration policies and those that attack students and workers in this country, and that is one of my driving forces to be the activist that I am.

NUS needs a smart strategy because apathy does not fuel a winning movement

NUS has come a long way from being a union that did not support free education, and acted like a factory for future MPs rather than an agitator for change. In the past few years we’ve seen a fundamental shift and some phenomenal campaigns that fight the issues that our students are facing, from Preventing Prevent and #StandByMe to Quality Doesn’t Grow On Fees and Cut the Rent. However this shift hasn’t happened with ease and therefore internal conflict has developed and spilt out, creating a chaotic image of NUS. I believe that if we want to build a student movement that all students can be proud to be apart of, it’s our duty as student activists to ensure that the people who we elect prioritise the needs of students rather than than their own egos and political vendettas.

Too many student feel alienated from local and national student and party politics. NUS needs a smart strategy to tackle this because apathy does not fuel a winning movement. My vision for NUS is an active student movement that uses its resources to engage and train student campaigners, helping them to win their battles locally and and nationally.

For too long the Society and Citizenship zone has functioned outside our student movement. This past year we’ve seen Brexit, Trump and the rise of far right extremism, but what we did not see is the Society and Citizenship zone mobilising students to defend our civil liberties. It is time that changed.

Danny 1

I’d like to see a national movement that tackles political apathy through political education and works closely with liberation campaigns, sections and nations to ensure that NUS activities and campaigns aren’t relegated to the same unions and groups who are already engaged.

I’m running because I don’t think that the society and citizenship zone has the right leadership or the right structure to mobilise the student movement to be where it needs to be. With all that is affecting students’ and workers’ rights, as well as a fast approaching general election, we need a united response and strategy to rebuild our fractured society. I believe we need to start acting as an interconnected community, sharing resources and practice to fight the attacks to education, the environment and our civil liberties.

My policies are concentrated within four key areas: transforming the Society and Citizenship zone so that is fit for purpose, tackling hate crime, standing in solidarity with migrants and recognising climate change as a social justice issue.

 

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