Lessons from being banned at #nuszc2013

Right now students are under attack. Teaching budgets have been decimated in higher and further education. The loss of EMA and the rise of tuition fees is pricing working class people out of education. The higher education funding system will polarise universities in the coming years, allowing the richest to become richer still, while underfunded institutions are at risk of closing down.

 

I don’t need to remind anyone of the seriousness of this. These issues will not be resolved by NUS officers having meetings with government ministers in fancy hotels. The only way we can fight back for our education is the same way that pretty much everything good has been achieved: mass mobilisation. And this requires democracy. We can’t fight for our futures without allowing all those voices to be heard, ideas to be genuinely debated, and decisions taken democratically.

 

NUS is not currently in a position to do this. This has been strongly emphasised to me in the past few days.

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Democratic Mandate Denied: Accountability and Bureaucracy at #nuszc2013

I’m currently sitting in the Manchester Palace Hotel where NUS Union Development Zone Conference is held. I’m in the bar, a public area, because NUS are currently preventing me from getting into the sessions. There are literally people on the doors, just for me. And this is despite the fact that I am an elected committee member of the Union Development Zone.

Zone Conference is the main democratic body for the UD Zone. As a committee member it is not my right but my responsibility to be here. I am responsible for making sure the conference runs as it should. I am responsible for holding the VP to account. I should be accountable to the people at this conference. None of that is possible if I am not allowed to go in. It’s more problematic still that the person who I am supposed to hold accountable is the person banning me.

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Democracy and boycotts: the example of Blurred Lines

A number of student unions have decided they will not allow Robin Thicke’s number one single “Blurred Lines” to be played in their commercial venues.

The trend began at Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) where the song was removed from playlists in line with their “End Rape Culture and Lad Banter on Campus” policy. This policy was democratically approved at an open meeting of around 600 students. According to the union’s Vice President, and National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts member, Kirsty Haigh, the song “promotes an unhealthy attitude towards sex and consent”.

When other unions followed suit, some decisions were taken in mass meetings or union councils, some by executives or lone officers. The difference between the two could not be greater. Continue reading