THIS ELECTION IS THE FIGHT OF OUR LIVES – HERE’S HOW WE CAN WIN IT

By Bradley Allsop

The world is on the brink. A shattered environment, gargantuan inequality, a burgeoning mental health crisis, fascism openly spreading across Europe, public services at breaking point… but also the possibility of more radical and progressive change than we’ve seen in decades. Higher education specifically also faces two radically different paths ahead of it: continued marketisation, eroding academic integrity, burdening a generation with enormous debt, crushing academics under enormous workloads, increasingly insecure employment and workplace stress – or publicly funded higher education that opens up space to imagine and create a different sort of campus.

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IN DEFENCE OF STUDENT POLITICS

By Bradley Allsop

The only way to make the word ‘politics’, that great indicator of all manner of corruption and trickery, more contemptible is to plonk the word ‘student’ in front of it. It almost feels like you‘re not pronouncing ‘student politics’ right if you do it without a sneer, or at least a shudder. Student politics has an image problem.

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STUDENTS’ UNIONS WILL ALWAYS BE POLITICAL

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By Lewis Martin

Over the last few weeks, UEA Students’ Union has received a number of comments from certain students on social media, complaining about it being ‘political’ and choosing to take political actions such as organising boycotts and funding students to travel to rallies. The SU is also being accused of acting undemocratically for taking these actions. Whilst these accusations are nothing new, in these recent cases the accusers are creating an obscure binary on what the SU can and can’t be seen doing, with a particular focus on only serving certain students’ needs.

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THERE’S MORE TO STUDENT ACTIVISM THAN #PEOPLESVOTE

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By Lewis Martin

Amatey Doku is right: student activism isn’t dead. In a recently published interview with the Guardian, the NUS Vice President of Higher Education proclaimed that students’ response to Brexit and their engagement with the People’s Vote campaign has shown that student activism is thriving anew, after years without a “unifying cause”. But what about the fight for free education that has been active on our campuses since 2012? For many activists in the last few generations of students, it was the issue that brought us together and gave us the skills to take the fight to the powerful. But for Doku, it was too “inward looking” to inspire a “genuine” movement.

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UNITED IN THE FACE OF CRISIS – THE STUDENT LEFT NETWORK

By Bradley Allsop

Make no mistake – higher education in the UK is in crisis. After decades of uncertain policy and three successive Tory-led governments with a clear desire to marketise and corporatise our campuses, we’re left with a generation burdened with debt, with an explosion in mental health issues among students, with universities bereft of democracy and increasingly fuelled by precarious labour, with Students’ Unions that are often little more than marketing arms of their universities, and with continuing inequalities in educational attainment. The passionate learning, debate and inquiry that should be the soul of education has become little more than a thin veneer pasted over profiteering and corporate-style expansion.

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THE DECLINE OF STUDENT MEDIA – AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT

By Lewis Martin

Over the last couple of years, student media outlets on our campuses have lost much of their political clout. Often, their focus is on delivering a hot take with a snappy headline, not on the integrity of their journalism or on exercising their power to make change on students’ behalf. This is particularly true of the two main student media outlets at UEA, and can be seen in how they handled the UEA management expenses scandal last month.

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BEYOND TUITION FEES #11 – MUCH TO LEARN, MORE TO DO

By Bradley Allsop and Rowan Gavin

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. In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green have brought together perspectives from across the sector to explore the possibilities of post-fees HE. In the final instalment, the series editors summarise the visions for the next chapter of UK HE that the series has laid out.

There is more energy, debate and innovation on the left now than there has been for decades. Capitalism’s multiple crises, and the inability of its defenders to respond to them, are beginning to translate into tangible political opportunity. This series sought to capture the essence of some of this historical moment and direct it towards thinking about what we want our university campuses to look like, beyond the staple progressive policy of scrapping tuition fees. A project in unashamedly utopian thinking, it recognised the very real possibility that free tuition might be a reality in the near future, and sought to explore how this requires the left to think practically about what comes after and where our energy should be focused next.

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A CO-OPERATIVE FUTURE FOR STUDENTS – BEYOND TUITION FEES #9

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.

Up and down the UK, from Edinburgh to Brighton, students are building alternatives to existing, exploitative housing and food practices. How? By creating co-operatives! These alternative ways of organising are expanding and flourishing at a rate never seen before, as students look to take their lives into their own hands, in defiance of the rising cost of living and exploitative landlords and businesses. The founding of Student Co-operative Homes, a launch pad organisation for potential student housing co-ops across the UK founded by the grassroots network Students for Co-operation and supported by national co-op federation Co-Ops UK, demonstrates the growing support for these independent, democratic projects.

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THE FUTURE OF STUDENTS’ UNIONS – BEYOND TUITION FEES #4

By Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt

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.

Students’ Unions are meant to defend students’ rights, fighting with and for them during their time at university and beyond. However, modern SUs are often dominated by corporate thinking, consumer culture and cosy collusion with university management. Radical, grassroots democracy is often muted or discouraged, channelled instead into more temperate, gradual and piecemeal avenues by Unions centralised in their functioning and timid in their approach.

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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

HIGHER EDUCATION IN A POST-FEES WORLD – BEYOND TUITION FEES #1

By Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt

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 new series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

Politics is in a very different place than a few years ago. Radical change feels possible, tangible, close. The Labour Party’s pledge to scrap tuition fees is one of many signs of this – welcome, and necessary to salvage higher education from the marketised juggernaut it has become. But just abolishing fees is not enough to fix all of higher education’s problems.

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NUS CONFERENCE OCCUPATION – SOLIDARITY FOR LEGAL ABORTION IN NORTHERN IRELAND AND STUDENT SEX WORKERS

by Thai Braddick

I was elected as a delegate to NUS National Conference last year in October by students in UEA SU. I received the highest number of votes, and am proud to say that it was because I am a socialist who values and appreciates all intersections of my electorate. Today at the NUS National Conference, delegates were meant to be debating motions in the Welfare Zone, but the debate on motions W106 ‘Decriminalisation of Abortion in Northern Ireland’ and W107 ‘Students and Sex Work’ were both filibustered aggressively, with continued procedural motions and DPC and chair misconduct. These actions were taken to intentionally prevent conference being given the chance to support people in Northern Ireland’s right to choose to have an abortion and to support student sex workers through campaigning to decriminalise sex work.

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“NUS IS YET TO FULLY EXPLORE THE VALUE ADDED BY INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS” – NUS ELECTIONS 2018: RIDDI VISWANATHAN

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. Following a highly controversial year for both the National Union of Students itself and the higher education sector as a whole, we contacted all candidates standing for the President, Vice-President and National Executive Council roles and offered them the space to write about their election campaigns, why they are standing and their visions for NUS.

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“IT’S TIME TO AMPLIFY OUR POSITIVE VISION” – NUS ELECTIONS 2018: SHAKIRA MARTIN

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. Following a highly controversial year for both the National Union of Students itself and the higher education sector as a whole, we contacted all candidates standing for the President, Vice-President and National Executive Council roles and offered them the space to write about their election campaigns, why they are standing and their visions for NUS.

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“STUDENT WELFARE IS INHERENTLY POLITICAL”- NUS ELECTIONS 2018: EVA CROSSAN JORY

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. Following a highly controversial year for both the National Union of Students itself and the higher education sector as a whole, we contacted all candidates standing for the President, Vice-President and National Executive Council roles and offered them the space to write about their election campaigns, why they are standing and their visions for NUS.

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“THIS IS THE TIME FOR RADICALISM” – NUS ELECTIONS 2018: SAHAYA JAMES

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. Following a highly controversial year for both the National Union of Students itself and the higher education sector as a whole, we contacted all candidates standing for the President, Vice-President and National Executive Council roles and offered them the space to write about their election campaigns, why they are standing and their visions for NUS.

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THE UCU STRIKE – A GUIDE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

By Ana Oppenheim, NUS International Students’ Campaign

What is happening?
Academic staff at over 60 universities will be going on strike for 14 working days, starting from Thursday February 22. This means many lectures will be cancelled – but even when they are not, we are encouraging students in universities that are on strike to not go to class and, if possible, not enter university buildings at all during strike days.
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UCU STRIKE TO PROTECT PENSIONS

The much-reported Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) strike in protest of cynical changes to university staff pension arrangements begins next week. The UEA branch of UCU and UEA Students’ Union have produced this statement for The Norwich Radical, to offer an introduction to the issues surrounding the strike. The Radical encourages all students, in Norwich and elsewhere, to stand in solidarity with the strikers by not attending classes on the dates of the strikes, and by sharing their message with your peers.

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“TOO COLD TO CONCENTRATE” – THE STATE OF STUDENT HOMES IN 2018

by Lewis Martin

Last week, NUS released the 2018 edition of their ‘Homes Fit For Study’ report on the state of student housing in the UK. Whilst the findings aren’t overly surprisingly, they still present the stark realities of the standard of housing that students have to face. The report demonstrates the effect that poor housing can have on mental health and wellbeing – one student reported that “Sometimes in bed when it’s bitterly cold we all feel like crying…” and another even said that her housing was so cold she caught pneumonia. In a society where the focus is on growing private capital, the health of tenants often comes second.

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FEES, FREE SPEECH AND FILIBUSTERING – A BRIEF HISTORY OF SAM GYIMAH MP

by Lewis Martin

Here’s a sentence I’ve wanted to write for some time: Jo Johnson is no longer the Universities minister. Last week Theresa May ‘promoted’ him to the transport office and made him the new minister for London. His removal came just days after Toby Young was forced to resign from the Office for Students (OfS) board, in part due to his link to a eugenics conference held at UCL.

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SOMETHING STINKS IN THE OFFICE FOR STUDENTS (AND IT’S NOT JUST TOBY YOUNG)

by Lewis Martin

This week, the government took the turn of the year as an opportunity to quietly announce the makeup of the board of the Office for Students (OfS), the new higher education ‘market regulator’ set to replace the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Naturally, it didn’t go unnoticed, and much has been said about the selection of Toby Young, infamous Tory party supporter. His appointment and the makeup of the rest of the board shows the absurdity at the heart of the body Jo Johnson has created, and why it will struggle to be taken seriously.

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WE CAN’T JUST WAIT FOR FREE EDUCATION – NCAFC WINTER CONFERENCE

by Lewis Jarrad

On the 9th-10th December, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) put on its 2017 Winter Conference in Liverpool. Taking place less than a month after their national demonstration, which advocated for free education and universal living grants funded by taxing the rich, the conference was a chance for student activists across the UK to strategise and discuss where we can go next in the fight for a free and democratic education system. Campuses represented included Liverpool, Manchester, UCL, UAL, KCL, Warwick, Sheffield, Abertay, Oxford and Cambridge. As a first year UCL student who was involved in the national demo, I went along to learn more about NCAFC and how I could get more involved in the campaign.

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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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CANAPES, CONFERENCES AND CLASS DISCRIMINATION – ACADEMIA IN 2017

by Bradley Allsop

CW: mentions sexual harassment

A teacake and a portable phone charger. Unlikely objects to trigger a tirade against the state of academic practices in the UK, but here you are, about to read one anyway.

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SOLIDARITY WITH INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

by Alex Powell

Not too long ago, a series of news stories began emerging. These stories documented the fact that the government’s estimates for the number of international students who outstay their visas were greatly exaggerated. Despite this, the government has continued to push two convictions. Firstly, that it is appropriate for international students to be included within wider immigration figures, and secondly, that immigration is too high and needs to be cut. These dual premises are having a hugely detrimental impact on the experience of international students, so it is important that other students do all we can to show solidarity with our fellow students and push for changes to this policy.Continue Reading

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: NOT JUST NUMBERS

by Lewis Martin

Last week, yet another of Theresa May’s lies was revealed: the number of international students staying in the UK after their visas expire isn’t anywhere near as high as she has frequently claimed. The idea that international students frequently stay in this country illegally was a touchstone of her policy whilst she sat as the Home Office Minister and has continually been backed up by her cabinet colleagues, including her successor to that ministry Amber Rudd.

However, on Thursday 24th August, the Office for National Statistics released new migration data showing that only 4600 international students have overstayed their visas. Not quite the hundreds of thousands that May, Rudd et al keep harping on about.Continue Reading

IF NOT NOW, THEN WHEN? – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #6

from a member of UEA Labour Students

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.

Having resolved to sit down today and write this article, I’m struck by the appropriateness of my day. I caught the bus to UEA from outside one of the few remaining Sure Start centres, a public service provided by the last Labour government which has been decimated by the Conservatives (and Liberal Democrats) since 2010. My bus was 40 minutes late, the consequence of a privatised, under-funded service – and even the previously UEA-hosted launderette I went to had been privatised since I last used it. It served as a strong reminder of the power of Labour government to change lives for the better, which contrasts with the crumbling services and privatisation festival that has characterised the last 7 years of Conservative and ConDem government.

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THE UK POSTGRADUATE STUDY CRISIS MUST END

by Bradley Allsop

Postgraduate study and research is a vital part of the higher education sector and yet in the UK it is in crisis, riddled with multiple, endemic problems.

Firstly, there are systemic problems with postgraduate study in terms of who even gets through the door. Research has shown that, graduates who are women, from certain ethnic minority groups or from lower socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to go on to study at postgraduate level. This is a social injustice in itself, and raises serious questions about the cultures and systems that exist within both academia and society more generally, but it is also to the detriment of academia: academia thrives on diversity.Continue Reading

HIJACKING STUDENT POWER – WHY THE NUS GOVERNANCE REVIEW MATTERS

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by Cherry Somersby

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.

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“A VERY DIFFERENT TYPE OF POLITICS” – RESPONSE TO NUS CONFERENCE DAY 1

by Cherry Somersby

Content warning: Article mentions suicide.

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.

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A NEW AGE FOR THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2017 – JOSEPH COX

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.

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A NEW AGE FOR THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2017 – HANSIKA JETHNANI

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.

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A NEW AGE FOR THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2017 – AIDAN O’TOOLE

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.

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A NEW AGE FOR THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2017 – AMATEY DOKU

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.

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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.

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A NEW AGE FOR THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2017 – ANA OPPENHEIM

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.

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A NEW AGE FOR THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2017 – EMILY HORSFALL

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.

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A NEW AGE FOR THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2017 – EMILY CHAPMAN

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.

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A NEW AGE FOR THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2017 – MARY FINCH

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.

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A NEW AGE FOR THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2017 – CEEWHY OCHOGA

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.

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A NEW AGE FOR THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2017 – SHAKIRA MARTIN

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.

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A NEW AGE FOR THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2017 – DARREN CLARKE

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.

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SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING – WHY THE NUS DISAFFILIATION ARGUMENT FAILS TO CONVINCE

by Alex Powell

Recent years, have seen a spate of referenda within students’ unions on whether they should continue their affiliation to NUS. One of the union’s most prominent critics, Tom Harwood, is running for NUS president this year. With all this going on, I feel like it’s a good time to throw my hat into the ring.

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A NEW AGE FOR THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2017 – ALEEM BASHIR

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.

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NUS WOMEN’S CONFERENCE, STUDENT DEPORTATION AND MIGRANTS’ RIGHTS

by Cherry Somersby

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.

This article provides an account of key events at Women’s conference, including motions passed and issues raised at plenaries and workshops throughout conference. I have also published comments given by both Malia and Hareem in response to the questions I asked about NUS, Women’s Conference, and the Women’s Campaign in the context of student deportations and migrants’ rights campaigns.Continue Reading

OXFORD’S PUBLICITY STUNT WON’T CLOSE THE UNIVERSITY CLASS GAP

By Lewis Martin

This month Oxford University, in conjunction with the Sutton Trust, launched a summer school aimed at attracting more “white, working class boys” to the university. While this has received praise from some sectors of society, it does not address the real reasons why working class people (not just boys or men) are not attending universities like Oxford.

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‘I FEEL LIKE I’M NON-EXISTENT’ – THE LIFE OF MATURE STUDENTS

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By Lewis Martin

Imagine a mature student.

I’m guessing many of you are picturing someone middle aged, married with two to three grown up children, who can now afford to go back to university to get the career change they’ve always wanted but couldn’t get when they were growing up. This stereotypical view of mature students has a detrimental effect on the Mature Student community.

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INSULT & INJURY – THE STUDENT LETTINGS RIPOFF

By Alex Powell

In 2014, the NUS reported that three quarters of students had suffered issues with privately rented accommodation. Such a high proportion is indicative of an endemic problem within the private rental market, a problem that disproportionately impacts students. Since the publication of this report, the problem has only gotten worse, as inflationary pressures have pushed up the price of rents while student loans have remained stagnant. Students now face more issues with finding decent housing than ever before, and many are left living in less than ideal conditions, to say the least.

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THE NSS: A MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR SOLIDARITY

By Alex Powell

So, it’s that time of year again. The time of year where university finalists are asked to submit to the NSS (National Student Survey) and evaluate their university experience.  This seems harmless enough. Indeed, the ability to criticise your institution in a way that might improve the experience of others can be portrayed as being positively progressive. However, this year, the data has a far more sinister usage. Because this year, NSS data is to be used in order to make decisions on whether or not to allow certain institutions to raise their fees. This change is coming about through the implementation of the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework), and Tory reforms to higher education more generally.

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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

#LOVESUs DAY – 3 REASONS TO LOVE UEA SU

by Sam Naylor

Today, Friday 2nd December 2016, is this year’s #LoveSUs Day. It’s a time to encourage positivity and togetherness with our Students’ Unions, highlighting the impact they have on our student experiences. It comes at a time when student maintenance grants have been scrapped by the government, English university tuition fees are set to rise even further based on performance in the new ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’, and student accommodation prices are rising more rapidly than any other rates in the private rental sector. All students need an organisation that will speak for us when the government of the day is constantly ignoring our needs and actively promoting policies that are having negative impacts on our lives.

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MANY FIGHTS, ONE MOVEMENT – NUS UNITED FOR EDUCATION DEMO

by Cherry Somersby

Content warning: mentions racism, racist violence

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.

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NUS JOINS THE FIGHT AND BACKS RENT STRIKES

by Lewis Martin

It was announced yesterday under the cloud of A-level results that the National Union of Students (NUS) has given full backing to the rent strikes that have been happening at numerous universities up and down the country. Their reasoning behind this is that due to the rise of living in university housing on campus or other university owned places, it has almost become a secondary set of fees on top of the already high tuition fees.Continue Reading

NOT SATISFIED, BUT IRATE – WHY STUDENTS MUST BOYCOTT THE NSS

by Cherry Somersby

Just last week, a key date in the university calendar fell for another year – the release of the results of the National Student Survey (NSS). The NSS, completed by thousands of final year undergraduate students each year, is a data collection tool that is used to promote competition and rank student satisfaction in universities across the country.Continue Reading

BLACK STUDENTS’ CONFERENCE 2016

by Julian Ignacio Canlas

On May 28-29th, the Black Students Conference happened in Bradford, where black student delegates across the country congregated together in the conference hall of Bradford Hotel.

We listened to BME activists and journalists discuss about their own experience of oppression, institutional racism, and the hard, arduous path that led to Malia Bouattia’s victory as the first black female president-elect of the NUS. This included renowned journalist Gary Younge, who delved upon the progression of black activism and condemned the forms of racism existing in right and leftwing media. Younge later received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

We went through rounds of motions and amendments. We voted for our new committee members, including the Black Students Officer, now Aadam Muse. Most contentiously, we debated about political blackness and its relevancy or outdatedness within the movement’s campaign structure.Continue Reading

THANKS JEREMY, BUT I DON’T WANT YOUR SYMPATHY

by Finn Northrop

Trigger warning: Rape, sexual assault and domestic violence

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, and each year this presents a fantastic opportunity for huge numbers of committed activists to not only raise awareness of a variety of mental health conditions but also to promote self-care and self-help methods, and to give people the bravery to seek help – whether that means reaching out to close friends or taking to the step of going to their GPs and seeing what services are available to them.Continue Reading

UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL: NUS DISAFFILIATIONS

by Cherry Somersby

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.Continue Reading

THE INHERENTLY RADICAL IDENTITY OF MULTICULTURALISM

by Julian Canlas

‘You are not alive to please the aesthetic of colonized eyes’
– Ijeoma Umebinyuo

 

An interesting thing happens when fully-assimilated BME in the West engage in politics, whilst retaining and proudly displaying their multicultural and racial identities as minorities—they become characterised as ‘radical’ and disruptive to the everyday function of society. Here are examples of how various politicking non-white figures have been portrayed:

  • Prior to Sadiq Khan becoming mayor of London on May 2016, Khan suffered from smear attacks by Zac Goldsmith. Goldsmith’s attacks included ‘Sadiq Khan won’t stand up for London’s Tamil community’ and ‘his party supports a wealth tax on family jewellery,’ with the latter based upon the uncomfortable, racist assumption that this taxation is a defining political issue for South Asians. Goldsmith also branded Khan as a ‘radical,’ belonging to ‘a Labour party that thinks terrorists is its friends’.
  • The newly-elected first Black Muslim president of the NUS, Malia Bouattia, depicted as an ISIS supporter for having been against a 2011 motion condemning ISIS, because of its apparent wording that demonises all Muslims, despite later supporting a revised version condemning ISIS and Islamophobia. She has also been criticised as anti-Semitic despite publicly declaring her stance as anti-Zionist due to Israel’s continued violation of human rights by its continued military occupation of Palestine.

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MALIA BOUATTIA – RADICALISM AND OPTIMISM

by Cherry Somersby

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.Continue Reading

THE FUTURE OF THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2016 – KIRA COX

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 Kira Cox

I’m currently in my first term of being the President at Liverpool Hope Students’ Union (but I was recently re-elected for a second!) Before I became a sabbatical officer I, like many students, perceived NUS as being nothing more than a discount card which got me half price Spotify and a free cheeseburger from McDonalds – this is a rhetoric that I want to change.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

THE FUTURE OF THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2016 – DANIEL NIKOLLA

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 Daniel Nikolla

I am a citizen of the world and I am the President of City and Islington College. Being a full time student, unpaid Student Union Officer and a non-EU International student in the UK is not easy at all! I take inspiration from the difficult things I have achieved in the past – Being an amateur to semi-PRO footballer from the age of nine, to moving to the UK aged 20. I also take inspiration from my family, who achieved so much in an oppressed society.Continue Reading

THE FUTURE OF THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2016 – ANA OPPENHEIM

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 Ana Oppenheim

Just as I was starting my sabb year, I came across an article about the 1971 student walkout. It took place when Digby Jacks was NUS National President, and Margaret Thatcher served as Education Secretary. The latter – not exactly a fan of collective organising – issued a White Paper, calling for an opt-in system of SU membership and external control of their finances. The NUS’ response was prompt and clear: this attack on student unionism needed to be resisted by any means necessary. The movement that followed wasn’t without its internal disagreements about goals and tactics, but it managed to unite over 350,000 students who took part in regional and national demonstrations, and finally went on a five-week strike. The disastrous proposals were crushed by radical action.Continue Reading

THE FUTURE OF THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2016 – JOE HASLAM

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 Joe Haslam

Why am I running in this years NUS election for Block?

Because not only am I angry, disappointed, and completely disgusted with the way things are. We cannot carry on like this. It’s just not right.

NUS does some good stuff, I know there are individuals within NUS who work tirelessly to make change happen. But there are not enough of them, and so NUS doesn’t do half as much as what needs to be done. That’s not to decry the excellent work carried out by those individuals; the problems facing us right now are immense both in relentless frequency and scope, but something’s got to change, and it must change now because people are dying.Continue Reading

THE FUTURE OF THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2016 – ROSIE MCKENNA

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 Rosie McKenna 

I’m currently taking a sabbatical year out of my studies to be Vice President Academic Representation at Edge Hill Students’ Union. Next year I’ll be going back to the third and final year of my drama degree, as well as being EHSUs part time Women’s Officer. And, hopefully, I’ll also be representing you on the NUS National Executive Council.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

NO PLATFORM AND THE AMPLIFICATION OF THE STUDENT VOICE

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by Cherry Somersby

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.

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HOW I FELL OUT OF LOVE WITH PETER TATCHELL

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by Chris Jarvis

I didn’t want to write this article. For a long time, Peter Tatchell was one of my political heroes. Reading about the infamous Bermondsey by-election when I was 15 and going through the process of being outed and the abuse and violence that came with that, understanding that people such as Tatchell had put themselves through that 25 years prior so that the world we live in was more tolerant and more accepting, was a comfort and an inspiration. Tatchell’s continuing radicalism throughout his long career in activism and into his elder years had me in awe. One of the proudest moments I’d had as a student activist was organising a talk by him at my University and just chatting with him in the pub afterwards. But it’s become obvious that we need to talk about Tatchell.

There’s no denying that Peter Tatchell and people like him have been an incredible force for change in social attitudes and legislation in the UK when it comes to LGBT rights and human rights more broadly. From that violent and unpleasant by-election in 1983, through to his attempted citizens arrests of Robert Mugabe and his unequivocal support of human rights worldwide, Tatchell has been at the forefront of radical direct action, and progressive movements.Continue Reading

“I WOULD DESCRIBE MYSELF AS AN ECONOMIC LIBERAL” – AN INTERVIEW WITH CHARLIE KINGSBURY, LIBERAL YOUTH CO-CHAIR

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by Chris Jarvis

It’s no secret that the Liberal Democrats are far from the most popular political party in Britain today. After the General Election, they were left with just 8 MPs, and were ousted from their position as junior coalition partners in Government. For the preceding years, they attracted mockery, ire, and ridicule in equal measure, not least from young people and students, a group who once made up a significant proportion of their voter base – especially in the dizzy days of Cleggmania.

I’m still fascinated, then, by the fact that they have managed to maintain a sizeable membership through this time, including among young people. Why would a young person join the Liberal Democrats, and why would they remain active in the party? This intrigue is what led to me interviewing Charlie Kingsbury, current co-chair of Liberal Youth, as part of a series of interviews focusing of the role of young people in shaping British politics.Continue Reading

DIVESTMENT, OCCUPATION AND AN UNAPOLOGETICALLY RADICAL STUDENT MOVEMENT

By Chris Jarvis

I’m an elected Sabbatical Officer at UEA and I’ve just come from a 26 hour occupation camp on my campus which was the culmination of a two-year campaign calling for UEA to join institutions across the world to divest their money from the fossil fuel industry. We occupied for 26 hours, one hour for every £5,000 the University currently has invested in fossil fuel companies. Often, such action would not be supported by elected student officers, and in the worst instances condemned by them.

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BAHAR MUSTAFA’S CHARGE SHOWS WHY FEMINISM SHOULDN’T RESPECT THE LAW

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by Robyn Banks

It all started with a Facebook event. Goldsmiths Student Union Welfare and Diversity officer, Bahar Mustafa, wanted to find out how she could help women and non-binary students of colour at her university. Aware that the voices of these minority groups were often difficult to hear, she decided to organise an event to talk to women and non-binary BME students alone. She created a Facebook event and politely requested that men and white people did not attend the event for people who weren’t men or white people. I don’t pretend to understand the reasons that white men at Goldsmiths were so upset that they weren’t wanted at the BME meeting, but they were, and before long the story had made it in to the right wing press and Bahar was splashed across the pages of the Daily Mail. After being put under harsh scrutiny and being the subject of a campaign of harassment, Bahar tweeted that familiar sentiment which has come to epitomise the frustration of third wave feminists, from Bikini Kill to Jezebel, in the form of a hashtag: “#Killallwhitemen”.

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STUDENTS: END AUSTERITY NOW! JOIN THE NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION

by Liam McCafferty

Over the last five years, students have felt the impact of austerity. With the recent election shock of a Conservative majority, we can expect further hardship: more cuts, more pain. But how exactly have students been affected by austerity, and why should we care?

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REBUILDING THE STUDENT MOVEMENT – THE LEFT TAKE NUS

by Chris Jarvis 

Those on the left have for many years taken one of two views of NUS. Either they have seen it as a body which is so far removed from students on the ground, from progressive and grassroots struggle and dominated by a right wing cabal of careerist New Labourites that it is irrevocable and beyond reform, or else they have played a role of antagonistic opposition within the structures.

The dust has now settled on this year’s NUS conference, and it is clear that something important has swept through NUS, and that previous analysis is no longer relevant. Four of the six President and Vice President positions have been won by progressive candidates, as well as ten of the National Executive Council places elected to the Block of 15. Labour Students, the insidious, repugnant and reactionary group of ultra-Blairites, was all but eradicated, winning only one seat on the Block of 15.Continue Reading

NUS NATIONAL CONFERENCE: SAHAYA JAMES FOR BLOCK OF 15

In the run up to the National Conference of the National Union of Students, we have offered all candidates for President, Vice President, and Block of 15 the opportunity to write articles for us explaining their priorities, their manifesto and why delegates should support them and elect them to their respective roles. Each candidate is allowed between 600 and 1,000 words, and we will publish each article in the order that we receive them.

by Sahaya James
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NUS NATIONAL CONFERENCE: RICHARD BROOKS FOR VICE PRESIDENT UNION DEVELOPMENT

In the run up to the National Conference of the National Union of Students, we have offered all candidates for President, Vice President, and Block of 15 the opportunity to write articles for us explaining their priorities, their manifesto and why delegates should support them and elect them to their respective roles. Each candidate is allowed between 600 and 1,000 words, and we will publish each article in the order that we receive them.

by Richard Brooks

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NUS NATIONAL CONFERENCE: HANNAH WEBB FOR BLOCK OF 15

In the run up to the National Conference of the National Union of Students, we have offered all candidates for President, Vice President, and Block of 15 the opportunity to write articles for us explaining their priorities, their manifesto and why delegates should support them and elect them to their respective roles. Each candidate is allowed between 600 and 1,000 words, and we will publish each article in the order that we receive them.

by Hannah Webb

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NUS NATIONAL CONFERENCE: LEON FRENCH, INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE FOR NATIONAL PRESIDENT

In the run up to the National Conference of the National Union of Students, we have offered all candidates for President, Vice President, and Block of 15 the opportunity to write articles for us explaining their priorities, their manifesto and why delegates should support them and elect them to their respective roles. Each candidate is allowed between 600 and 1,000 words, and we will publish each article in the order that we receive them.

by Leon French

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NUS NATIONAL CONFERENCE: VOTE SHAKIRA FOR VP FURTHER EDUCATION

In the run up to the National Conference of the National Union of Students, we have offered all candidates for President, Vice President, and Block of 15 the opportunity to write articles for us explaining their priorities, their manifesto and why delegates should support them and elect them to their respective roles. Each candidate is allowed between 600 and 1,000 words, and we will publish each article in the order that we receive them.

by Shakira MartinContinue Reading

WHY THE YOUNG GREENS ARE GETTING ORGANISED THIS YOUNG WORKERS MONTH

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by Thomas French.

Being young sucks. Let’s make that pretty clear, and it’s only getting worse. This Government (and New Labour before it) seems pretty hell bent on making your under 30s just the worst.

Raising the retirement age, destroying public services, increasing tuition fees, cutting EMA and trying their best to make workplaces unsafe, it didn’t seem possible, but this Government led by some lame old white people has made being young worse.

But on the other side, some youth and student led groups are working hard on the fight back, kicking off at these issues and organising to make sure out future isn’t is bleak as those boring Tories want it to be. The Young Greens are leading the way on this, and among other things, we’re asking young people to GET ORGANISED!Continue Reading

BUILDING THE MOVEMENT FOR FREE EDUCATION: THE STUDENT RADICAL #4

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.

Estimates vary, but between five and ten thousand students marched through central London on Wednesday 19th of November. Under a multitude of banners, they brought with them a single central message – education should be a public good, not a commodity, and therefore should be free for all.

After a series of governments of many colours have introduced and then deepened the commercialisation of Higher Education, Universities are now run more like businesses than ever before. The principles at the core of Higher Education now are those of the market. In this context, a campaign, a movement or a march that calls for education to be free, and to shift the financing of education from the student to the state appears on the face of it to be fundamentally reactive.Continue Reading

THEY’RE BACK: FREE EDUCATION MARCH TAKES LONDON BY STORM

by Jack Brindelli.

Thousands of enraged students marched through the streets of the capital on Wednesday November 19th to call for Free Education – despite warnings of ‘health and safety’ issues causing the NUS to withdraw its support for the demonstration. Regardless, over 4000 students still converged on London, in an energetic march that toured past flashpoints such as Parliament Square – the site of a mass police kettle in December 2010 – and a number of sites belonging to corporate tax-dodgers like Starbucks. It was, as a result, a predictably vibrant and radical affair, which promises to revitalise both the student and anti-cuts movement – with a focus not just on student issues, but a distinct call for an alternative to austerity present in every section of the march.

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THE NUS AND THE STUDENT MOVEMENT

by Elliot Folan

In the last month, two student unions have held referendums on whether to be part of the National Union of Students (NUS). The first, in Oxford, saw 52% vote in favour of leaving the NUS – a result which was later reversed after it was discovered that 1,000 anti-NUS votes had been cast fraudulently. The second, in York, saw 65% of student voters back the idea of remaining in the NUS. In both cases, the referendums were held in exam season, with turnout at 15% in Oxford and just 7% in York. Although neither referendum ultimately saw the unions leave the NUS, both the campaigns and the initial Oxford result brought to the fore the many issues that students have raised with the NUS.

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DIVESTMENT, DECISIONS AND A DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT

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by Elliot Folan

Last month, it was revealed that UEA plans to raise accommodation fees for university students by up to 9%. Students have already come forward to say that they would not have been able to afford the new prices, and the students’ union has raised questions about accessibility and affordability. Yet the second big story of the fee rise is an issue of democracy. It was reported – and the university declined to deny – that student union officers were told they would not be consulted on the fee rise, and that the university had no intention of consulting them at all. In other words, on an issue that is of material concern to thousands of new and continuing students on our campus, management felt it necessary to completely ignore and override the wishes of our elected representatives.

Such contempt for democratic procedure is standard practice at UEA, and they speak to a wider problem of opaque decision making and lack of accountability on our campus and in the university system generally. There are three more examples of such undemocratic decisions.

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