A TRULY RADICAL NUS – BEYOND TUITION FEES #2

By Lewis Martin

It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

Over the last year the NUS has been a shadow of its former self, riddled with accusations of bullying from its President and marked by its failure to engage with the largest upswelling of campus activism this country has seen in years. It was bizarre enough that it refused to back demonstrations for Free Education last year, implying a denial that the end of tuition fees would be a benefit for students. But that pales in comparison to the extraordinary lack of NUS involvement in the recent UCU strikes. While its members joined the picket lines and entered occupation up and down the country, NUS chose to stay silent when our academic staff most needed their support. Continue Reading

UEA: BANKING ON IMMORALITY

by Lewis Martin

If it’s not one thing it’s another with UEA. Weeks after their announcement that they’ve finally divested from fossil fuel companies, People and Planet UEA have discovered that the university has nearly £23 million invested with Barclays Bank. This won’t be particularly surprising to most – there is a branch on campus after all – but it shows the university’s ongoing decision to disregard the unfolding environmental and ethical situation of the world it operates in.

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EDUCATION’S SUCH A MESS, BUT WHERE THE FUCK IS NUS?

by Lewis Martin

Last week students from around the UK marched through London to pressure the government into finally delivering free education. The march has become a yearly spectacle and a symbol of the importance of direct action to the student movement. This year however, the National Union of Students decided not to back the demo, claiming that putting more energy into lobbying will have a greater impact than this direct action could. This shift of attitude isn’t just found in the higher ranks of NUS; it is also becoming commonplace in more and more student unions across the country.

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UEA: FOSSIL FREE AT LAST

by Lewis Martin, on behalf of Fossil Free UEA

I can’t quite believe I’m writing this, but after 4 long years of campaigning, UEA has finally divested from fossil fuels. People and Planet UEA received the following statement from the University yesterday:

“Over the past 50 years UEA’s researchers have played a leading role globally in developing the science and understanding of climate change and links with carbon emissions. The University remains committed to reducing its own carbon emissions and is investing £6.5million to reduce our carbon footprint from 23,000 tonnes to 12,800 tonnes by 2020. We can confirm that UEA does not have any investments in fossil fuel companies.”*

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IGNITING STUDENT ACTIVISM #3 – WORKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE

by Bradley Allsop & Calum Watt

Rarely in our lifetimes has there been a more exciting time for young people to engage in politics. Change is in the air and nowhere else offers more opportunities to engage in this conversation, to learn valuable skills and to help shape society than university campuses. This series of articles seeks to offer some guidance for those aiming to ignite student activism at their institutions. Drawing on our experiences as campaigners we hope to highlight some common challenges and give you some advice on how to combat them.

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IGNITING STUDENT ACTIVISM #1 – FIRST STEPS

by Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt

Rarely in our lifetimes has there been a more exciting time for young people to engage in politics. Change is in the air and nowhere else offers more opportunities to engage in this conversation, to learn valuable skills and to help shape society than university campuses. This series of articles seeks to offer some guidance for those aiming to ignite student activism at their institutions. Drawing on our experiences as campaigners we hope to highlight some common challenges and give you some advice on how to combat them.

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DIRTY MONEY – HOW ETHICAL ARE OUR UNIVERSITIES’ INVESTMENTS?

by Laura Potts

Each university is different from one another. Moreover, they are very different from most other institutions of all types. On one hand they are educational institutions; on the other they are businesses. As businesses they make investments, though this is not something we would usually think of as a priority of educators. It is worth taking the time to investigate what your university is truly involved with and if their investments are ethical, not only for moral peace of mind but also to have a clearer idea of what your tuition fees are being put toward.

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STUDENTS NEED A REVOLUTION – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #1

by Bradley Allsop

In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.

Students have been at the forefront of progressive politics and change throughout the centuries. We were engaged in the 1848 revolutions that shook Europe, and front and centre of a wave of radical protest that shook the world in 1968. We played a part in challenging apartheid in South Africa and the continued Israeli abuse of the Palestinian people. Most recently we are leading the way on fossil fuel divestment.

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TAKING ON THE SPECTRE THAT HAUNTS HIGHER EDUCATION

By Bradley Allsop

We’ve all seen the headlines – tripled tuition fees, retroactive changes to the student loan book, the nefarious uses of the National Student Survey. Often treated as isolated issues, these policies are in reality the foot soldiers in a war being waged to undermine the very foundations of our universities, twisting them from hallowed halls of challenge and transformation into bland centres for corporate training and indoctrination. This spectre haunts academics, senior managers and even Students’ Unions alike, forcing them all to dance to the mantra of the market, to the profit agenda. This spectre’s name is capitalism.

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THE NORWICH RADICAL YEAR IN REVIEW 2016

by The Norwich Radical

2016 was a bleak year for many. Across the world, the forces of liberty, of social progress, and of environmental justice lost time and again in the face of rising fascism, increased alienation, and intensifying conflict. That notwithstanding, there have been moments of light. In the Austrian Presidential election, the electorate confirmed the independently Green candidate Alexander van der Bellen; the #noDAPL water protectors gained a soft victory in early December; in fact, there is a full list of positives from the past year, if you want cheering up.

2016 saw our team expand to more than 25 writers, editors, and artists as well as host our first ever progressive media conference, War of Words. Our readership has grown from 5,000 per month to more than 6,500 per month. In total, nearly 80,000 people have read content on The Norwich Radical website this year.

In 2017, The Norwich Radical will turn three years old, with plans to grow our team and publication more than ever before. We’ll also be returning to Norwich to bring debate and discussion on the future of the media, with War of Words back for a second year. Continue Reading

NOT SO GREEN – UEA IN THE UNIVERSITY GREEN LEAGUE

By Lewis Martin of People and Planet UEA

This week saw People and Planet’s annual University League table released. For some universities this has been a cause for celebration – Nottingham Trent, for example, have climbed to the top of the table. However, for UEA and its students the league’s findings should be a cause for concern. Since last year Norwich’s biggest university has dropped 14 places from 34 to 48 in the table, losing 13 points in the process. This is the inevitable result of the way the university has behaved in the last year with regards to various environmental issues.

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RECLAIM THE POWER: WHY I JOINED HUNDREDS TO SHUT DOWN THE UK’S LARGEST OPENCAST COAL MINE

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by Benjamin Brown

On Tuesday  May 3rd, there was an aberration from my normal routine. Rather than dragging myself reluctantly out of bed, I was up at dawn, tense and excited. Rather than preparing for a day of work, I was zipping myself up in a bright red jumpsuit and scrawling a contact number for legal support onto my arm with permanent marker. Today was the day I would join with over three hundred other protesters and take part in an act of mass civil disobedience against Ffos-y-Fran, the UK’s largest opencast coal mine.

Our convergence on this site, near the Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil, was at the invitation of local campaigners from the United Valleys Action Group. We came to stand in solidarity with their fight against the mine whilst amplifying our call for green jobs and a future free from fossil fuels. An end to coal, and an end to the political intransigence that has delayed action on climate change for far too long.Continue Reading

RBS IS CUTTING FOSSIL FUEL INVESTMENTS. DOES IT MATTER WHY?

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by Olivia Hanks

The news that Royal Bank of Scotland has cut its investment in fossil fuels by 70% is only the latest in a string of decisions by high-profile investors to pull back from oil and coal. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has divested from companies that derive more than 30% of their sales from coal; and, last month, the Rockefeller Family Fund announced that it would no longer invest in fossil fuels.

The fact that both Norway and the Rockefeller family derive their wealth from oil has not been lost on commentators. Whether or not you consider it hypocritical to invest ‘dirty’ wealth in ‘clean’ projects (if so, what should be done with it instead?), the low price of oil and coal has offered a perfect PR opportunity with no financial sacrifice.Continue Reading

THE FUTURE OF THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2016 – CHLOE SCHENDEL-WILSON

The Norwich Radical was born in the student movement, and we continue to be an active part within it. We recognise that while official structures are not the sum total of the movement, they play an undeniably important part and to understand the political consciousness of the student movement, you need to, in part, look at the National Union of Students. 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.

By Chloe Schendel-Wilson

I’m the second year President of Bournemouth University Students’ Union, a Biological Sciences graduate and I currently sit on the NUS Union Development Zone Committee. I am standing for election because I see NUS as an organisation with huge potential, but potential that it is currently not maximising. We spend too much time trying to get one up on each other and not enough time focusing on students – the people we are here to represent. I think it’s time to change that, and I genuinely believe I am the right person to do so.Continue Reading

DETENTION CENTRES AND THE STUDENT MOVEMENT

by Sahaya James

Harmondsworth detention centre, near Heathrow, is set in an anonymous business park. You can only tell it’s a detention centre because of the barbed wire.

Campsfield detention centre, near Oxford, is accessible by a nondescript turning on a nondescript a-road. The whole site is ringed by a line of trees.

Yarl’s Wood, however, is even more hidden than the rest. It sits hundreds of meters back from the road, behind a double layer of fencing, miles and miles out into the Bedfordshire countryside.

It is, essentially, a prison. Like every detention centre, it doesn’t contain people accused and convicted of crimes — it contains people without UK passports. Specifically, Yarlswood contains women and children.Continue Reading

HOW TO SPEND £130,000: A POEM IN SOLIDARITY WITH FOSSIL FREE UEA

by Jake Reynolds

On the flit of hazel dormice
tripping through boscage,

a chaffinch chirping in maddening circles
between the calligraphic twigs,

a wrens’ bingo hall with trinket wins
and a brief presentation on the history
of shoots and shrubbery,Continue Reading

DAVID RICHARDSON HEARTS FOSSIL FUELS

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By John Heathcliff

On Thursday October 22nd, a coalition of student run societies and campaigns are coming together to put on a debate on UEA’s investment policies, specifically in relation to the fossil fuel industry. Similar discussions are taking place all across the country as student activists organising under the banner of ‘Fossil Free’ are lobbying their institutions to end all financial links with fossil fuel companies on the grounds that such links are inextricably linked to the catastrophic effects of climate change. At UEA, students have been campaigning for over 2 years for senior managers to divest funds from the industry, and have garnered support, taken mass action and put significant pressure on the University.

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IF CLIMATE CHANGE WAS AN ILLNESS, WE WOULD IMMEDIATELY START TREATMENT

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by Dr. Hayley Pinto

About 18 months ago I had a life changing experience. I read the intergovernmental panel on climate change report. Before that I thought I was reasonably environmentally aware. I wasn’t. The more I have read, the more evident it seems that climate change is the defining issue of our age. We are on the brink of making our planet uninhabitable, for everyone — not just the poor, the vulnerable, people in Africa and Bangladesh, but also for the rich and privileged, those who have contributed to the problem and those who have not.

Climate change is not just a matter of global warming. A hotter planet means drought, floods, storms and sea level rise. These things are already happening. The 11 million people living in Brazil’s Sao Paolo are experiencing a drought so severe they are trying to drill wells through concrete in the city centre. California is in its 5th year of drought.Continue Reading

FOSSIL FUELS, DIVESTMENT, AND THE NEW STUDENT CLIMATE MOVEMENT: THE STUDENT RADICAL #1

In certain circles, there is the perception that the transformation to the ideal of the student as consumer is complete and that therefore the student activist and a radical student movement is a thing of the past. Although there was the anti-fees flashpoint in 2010, the argument goes, now the modern student is more concerned with getting their money’s worth from the education they directly pay for, than they are about changing the world.

Over the last four years there have been countless examples of campaigns that prove this thesis wrong. This series of articles seeks to explore those campaigns, what they have achieved and what they mean for the student movement and the Higher Education sector as a whole.

by Chris Jarvis

Launched in the USA in 2012 by 350.org, the Fossil Free campaign has spread worldwide, building an international movement on University campuses. The aim of the campaign has been to persuade public and civic institutions to remove any investments that they hold with coal, oil and gas companies and thus remove the social license the fossil fuel industry has to operate. Since its inception, Higher Education establishments, city authorities and religious institutions across the globe have cut their financial ties to the fossil fuel industry

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