Riz Millanzi, Aditi Vas, Afreen Begum, Daniel Burke and May Gabriel went to Glasgow to represent the University of Sussex Students’ Union at the NUS National Conference, which was held from 9-11 April 2019. Riz and Aditi share their experience.
On Motions And Policy
“We voted for motions that would ensure equal opportunities and protections for marginalised students. In voting for these motions, we were careful to keep protections for groups as well. An example of this was when we rejected ending Rule 333, which states that a set proportion of conference attendees are women. This rule was in jeopardy because it was believed to intimidate and possibly discourage gender-neutral attendees. I agreed with the sentiment that it might intimidate gender-neutral attendees. However, I believed that the wording of the rules should be amended rather than ending the rule overall.”
“An emergency motion was put forward for the NUS to adopt the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) definition of Islamophobia. There was also a second emergency motion condemning Anti-Semitism. I voted for both motions and they were successfully passed. We also passed a motion in solidarity with NUS - Union of Students in Ireland (NUS-USI) and their fight to protect their reproductive rights. This was despite the small ‘Pro-Life’ protest that was staged on the last day of conference by an outside group beside the [conference venue] SEC Armadillo. In addition, it is now NUS Policy that we are officially Anti-Brexit.”
On NUS Reforms
“As a result of the current financial situation, the NUS will be cutting certain budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. The defunding of the Trans Officer and campaign was a an issue that our delegation found particularly alarming. Areas most affected by budget cuts will include the Trans Campaign, the further education sector, international student support, renting help and welfare, and postgraduate funding. The NUS has admitted that with the financial issues that they are facing, they will most likely not be able to function as before.”
“The NUS Reform Motion was passed, but only after it was heavily amended. These amendments included recognising apprentices in the new structure, keeping the Liberation Officers and campaigns, retaining the Trans Campaign and ensuring we can continue to hold the executive accountable.”
On NUS Elections
“We had pre-decided who we were going to vote for. However, some of the speeches swayed our original choices. I kept three things in mind when I was voting: Previous post experience, varied student experience, and policy proposals.”
“One delegate made inflammatory (and unacceptable) comments regarding Israel while on the conference floor. The same person then ran in the elections the next day. During this delegate’s election speeches, many of us, including myself and the rest of the Sussex delegation, decided to stand up and turn our backs on the candidate to show that we would not stand for this behaviour at the conference.
I was honoured to make the trip up to Glasgow and attend the conference, representing the views of students at the University of Sussex. This was my first NUS National Conference - and hopefully not my last. Thank you so much for allowing me to represent you!”
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