The National Union of Students (NUS) held its annual National Conference on 25th to 27th April in which policy making and the election of the union’s new leadership took place.
Shakira Martin, the NUS’s current vice-president for further education beat Malia Bouattia to become the union’s president. Bouattia was the first Black Muslim woman to be president but was recently subjected to much opposition and contesting over alleged anti-Semitic comments. Bouattia closed the Conference by congratulating Martin and stated “the level of abuse I received has felt completely unprecedented”, “I have put liberation at the heart of everything I do… We need to fight like hell to win for students”.
Before the election, a Student Idea had proposed that the Students’ Guild support Tom Harwood as candidate, however this was unsuccessful and the Guild remained neutral.
However, Guild President Toby Gladden was a firm support of Martin, and commenting “not only did the idea not mandate delegates to support Tom Harwood but it received a ‘third class conditional fail’ score, which means if a student project leader did not come forward to continue the idea then it would have failed completely. This was bypassed because, even if it had passed, it would only notify delegates and, as this was done as a matter of course anyway, the idea was moved to completed.”
Another Student Idea proposing a new referendum on NUS membership was withdrawn from the Exeter Students’ Guild website, the student stating that “I feel we need to wait until the Democratic Review within the NUS has been completed until this idea can go forward and students have the right information.”
Despite running out of time to debate on all motions, some of the most notable decisions the NUS made were on policy were Motion 412, 206, and 601.
Submitted by Reading University Students’ Union, Motion 206 argued for free education as a public right, and the motion was passed.
In light of recent allegations against president Malia Bouattia, a significant motion was 412 ‘It’s Time to Combat Anti-Semitism’. This motion was passed, and it was agreed for the NUS to ensure safeguarding of all students and work with Jewish organisations to combat anti-Semitism.
Due to a lack of time Motion 601 ‘Strengthening NUS Democracy’, was the last motion to be debated. The motion was passed, and included changing the NUS ‘Zones’ in favour of regional conferences as well as significantly changing voting procedures.