Before I give enthral you with the details of days two and three at NUS Conference, I want to apologise for the delay in this post. One of the unwritten rules of any conference is that you will definitely get very ill, three days before your dissertation hand in date thereby necessitating the consumption of industrial strength antibiotics which make you dopey and incapable of blogging. Sorry about that.
Anyway, let us reflect on days two and three of NUS Conference. New NUS Officers were elected, motions passed, reports heard, fringes attended and alcohol consumed. Of most significance to Surrey Students, the motion that we sent to conference was passed mandating NUS officers to lobby the government for regional weighting of student finance, meaning more money in the pockets of students who live in expensive areas such as Guildford. This should be a source of immense pride to Surrey Students. We have together, influenced NUS policy and got something passed that is sensible and relevant to students up and down the country. Oh and we were the only Higher Education institution to give every member the opportunity to vote on the motion through a referendum (which we held online prior to submission). Together, we are trailblazers; forging a path to openness, transparency and participation which the NUS should look to emulate in the coming years.
Just a brief comment on elections. First, you can find a detailed breakdown of results here: http://www.theyworkforstudents.co.uk/elections-2012.html. Secondly, I just want to talk about the election of the NUS President. All four candidates were of a good calibre, but the candidate who stood out for me was Liam Burns, who was convincingly re-elected. I didn’t vote for him because he is a nice bloke and has similar politics to me even though that is true. He secured my vote because his manifesto was the most relevant to students here at Surrey. Liam has been driving the “Pound in your Pocket” and “Hidden Course Costs” campaign which have the potential to tangibly improve the lives of the members of our Union. His rhetoric wasn’t littered with irrelevant nonsense about “activism”, “liberation”, “social justice” etc. That’s not to dismiss the importance of these things. The fight for social justice guides my own politics. However, as delegates, we must remember we’re not at conference to dogmatically pursue our own values, we attend to make sure your voice is heard and I hope my vote for Liam demonstrates that.
Lastly, I just want to say that our work as delegates is not quite finished. I will be ensuring that NUS delegates contribute to a guide for next year’s delegates. It took me a day and a half to get familiar with NUS procedure whilst thumbing through the documentation and we will avoid that situation next year by making sure our delegates are briefed up to their eyeballs before heading to Sheffield.
Overall, the NUS Conference was great fun and very fulfilling for the policy wonk within me. If you’re considering running next year, my advice is very simple: do it. Prepare properly and you can make a real difference for our members here at Surrey.