Student section writer
Lucy is currently a part-time officer at UEASU. She writes on issues around Higher Education and the student movement, and is in her final year studying Culture, Literature and Politics at UEA.
(03.05.17) – Hijacking Student Power – Why the NUS Governance Review Matters
On the last day of NUS National Conference, an extensive governance review was passed amid confusion and accusations of political bias from NUS’ Democratic Procedures Committee. The review was comprised of four sections, each relating to four ‘principles for a good democracy’, and in total, sixteen amendments were submitted by delegates, many of which contained fundamental changes to the vision that the review had set out.
(26.04.17) – “A Very Different Type of Politics” – Response to NUS Conference Day 1
The political transition we have seen in NUS over the last 12 months would have been unthinkable this time last year. The student movement has risen to the growing need for radical action this year, building groundbreaking, vital campaigns, presenting a powerful response to the many crises modern students face.
(15.04.17) – Chechnya: Norwich Pride, Solidarity, Actions
This week, Norwich Pride held an emergency demonstration outside City Hall to protest a new wave of abductions, imprisonment, and killing of LGBTQ+ people in Chechnya. Over 50 people gathered on the steps of City Hall to hear speeches from local activists, and to show solidarity with LGBTQ+ people in Chechnya. These acts of solidarity are vital, and it has been encouraging to see similar displays across the country, but our actions must go beyond this.
Content warning: article mentions physical and emotional abuse, abortion, xenophobia, gendered Islamophobia, deportation
Last week, over a hundred women+ students travelled from student unions all over the country to NUS Women’s Conference to elect a new NUS Women’s Officer, and set the direction for the NUS Women’s Campaign for the incoming year. I attended conference as a delegate from UEASU, and sat down with NUS President Malia Bouattia, and NUS Women’s Officer Hareem Ghani after having won her re-election.
NUS’ ‘No-Platform’ policy is the refusal to allow ‘racists or fascists’ to speak at NUS events or alongside NUS representatives. Bearing in mind that this policy is often conflated with attempts by individual Students’ Unions to ban certain speakers from their campuses, it has been dubbed by many as an attack on free speech, and further confirmation that the ‘intolerant student left’ have become more concerned with hiding in their progressive echo-chambers than with serious, healthy debate.
From Whitehall to Millbank, placards reading ‘No Fees, No Cuts, No Debt’ filled the streets as NUS President Malia Bouattia addressed 15,000 students ready to fight fees and stop the Higher Education Bill on Saturday. This comes at a time when students are turning to loan sharks to cover their costs, our loans are being attacked for being ‘illegal’ and ‘unenforceable’, and the threat of rent strikes is truly on the agenda.
(17.11.16) – Queer Visibility – The Blessing and The Curse
Anyone with a basic understanding of society will know that queer people encounter instances of homophobia on a daily basis. Seemingly removed from what many view as ‘real oppressions’, everyday instances of homophobia can be intensely draining, but ultimately the form they take is rarely an aggressive one. So why, then, does an act so apparently harmless as a prolonged stare or quiet whisper in the street, have the power to provoke so much fear? The answer is something I failed to realise until three days ago when I witnessed homophobic violence in my own city.
(01.08.16) – UEA and the Rainbow Flag: Solidarity or Pinkwashing?
Victory! The University of East Anglia has at long last agreed to fly the rainbow flag for the first time in the university’s history. After over three years of campaigning by UEA’s lgbt+ activists, university managers finally gave in and flew the rainbow flag ahead of this year’s Norwich Pride. Undoubtedly, this is testament to the efficacy of persistent campaigning and to the dedication of student activists both those currently at the University and those who have since left it behind.
(04.07.16) – The Student Movement Must Get Behind Corbyn
Battle lines were drawn and war was declared on Jeremy Corbyn when soft left political heavyweight Hillary Benn kick-started a coup within the Labour Party. Consisting of organised resignations by many Shadow Government Ministers on the hour, every hour, the last fortnight’s developments risk leaving Labour permanently cracked down the middle.
(22.06.16) Freedom of Movement in the EU is a Lie
Last Saturday, on the 18th June, a procession of 250 vehicles containing food, clothes, tents and other aid were turned away at the border by the French Border Police. This cruel attempt to prevent aid from reaching refugees in Calais takes on an even crueller irony when considering that the incident took place two days before World Refugee Day. The irony of the situation becomes ever clearer whilst the border stood firm between refugees and aid, as the Remain campaign reached a crescendo in the last week of campaigning, still citing ‘freedom of movement’ as a core principle of the EU.
We are being scammed again. The Higher Education White Paper, whilst deliberately wordy and confusing, is the latest attack on our right to a free and fair education system. Quite poignantly, our government’s HE White Paper is titled ‘Success as a Knowledge Economy.’ As the name suggests, it is a blueprint for the further marketisation of education. It is a model deliberately constructed to strangle universities of funding so that they can never improve when they fail to meet new Teaching Excellence Framework standards, and it is a further attempt to rank and commercialise universities where education is seen as a commodity to be bought and sold, and students are taught that they exist only as consumers.
Today, the Higher Education White Paper was published, with its proposals for entrenched market forces in Univerisites and further increased tuition fees. The media narrative beforehand, though, was not of the hard work NUS have put into fighting this, but instead on disgruntled Students’ Unions looking to sever their ties from their national union. In one week, two universities have disaffiliated from NUS. The 9th of May saw Lincoln SU vote in a referendum to disaffiliate, and on the 12th, Newcastle followed suit. With more referendums to come, most notably at Oxford and Cambridge, it is highly likely that we will see more disaffiliations. Now more than ever, we must recognise the growing disillusionment with NUS that has been gaining momentum at an alarming rate all year.
(09.05.16) – The EU Referendum and the Failure to Engage Students
Increasingly I am being forced into situations that leave me feeling incredibly conflicted politically, and the EU referendum is no exception. By the 23rd of June I will either have to vote in line with a bland collection of right-wing moderates under the banner of the ‘Britain Stronger In’ campaign, or cast a vote that is seen by many as a vote for isolation and a complete rejection of European solidarity. This is not an article about which way you should vote or why, and it’s not even an article about why you should care. This is an article about why, in spite of months of propaganda, all sides of the debate have so far failed to inspire myself and the other 47% of students that are expected to stay home on 23rd June.
(25.04.16) – Malia Bouattia – Radicalism and Optimism
On the 20th April, at this year’s NUS Conference, Malia Bouattia was elected as the new president of The National Union of Students, making her the first black, female NUS president, and the first Muslim to ever hold the position. NUS has not seen an incumbent president lose their election since 1969, and this year we feared would be no exception.
As the cliché goes, it seems that there are few things older than the ‘oldest profession’. One thing that definitely shares its age though, is the stigmatisation and prejudice directed towards its practitioners. Sex workers have for generations been one of the greatest ‘others’ within society. Today, things are much the same, with the exception that there are growing numbers of people that are stepping in, showing solidarity and attempting to shift societal perceptions in order to begin the process of winning hard fought rights.
‘NUS’ ‘No-Platform’ policy is the refusal to allow ‘racists or fascists’ to speak at NUS events or alongside NUS representatives. Bearing in mind that this policy is often conflated with attempts by individual Students’ Unions to ban certain speakers from their campuses, it has been dubbed by many as an attack on free speech, and further confirmation that the ‘intolerant student left’ have become more concerned with hiding in their progressive echo-chambers than with serious, healthy debate.’