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Calling all students

Ley | 04.12.2001 21:51

A call to all students fed up with the bureaucratic ineffectiveness of our supposed representatives in NUS, and a suggestion of taking action to change it.

Two years ago, as somebody concerned about various student issues, I stood to go to the NUS annual conference in Blackpool. I assumed it would be an opportunity to have a say in what NUS does and to help influence it to take a far more active stance on student issues, and also connecting with wider social movements. I could not have been more wrong. Instead, I found a bitter, faction-filled conference full of people who hated each other and constantly used every bureaucratic procedure possible to snipe at each other.

It seemed to be a deeply weird mix of Blairite MP wannabees, loud trotskyist "revolutionaries" who seemed to hate all the other loud trotskyist revolutionaries, and general saddo hangers-on who are so obsessed by student politics that they keep on enrolling for AS level courses at sixth form colleges so they can turn up each year and enjoy the spiteful atmosphere.

In short, nobody who can really claim to represent students, or who should be considered competent to decide what NUS is doing. I don't know when the rot started, but NUS is such an irrelevant, bureaucratic, corporate-obsessed institution that it has no hope at all of standing up for students. Due to its complicity with Labour, tuition fees and the loans system were introduced with barely a murmer. And nobody even seems to be noticing that university research is fairly much dominated by the corporate agenda.

When leaving the conference, I picked up one of the countless copies of the Guardian lying about the place and it had an article about the conference, concluding "1968 it ain't". Damn right.

I believe that there is no hope of reforming NUS. It has gone too far for that. When I was there, a few candidates stood on a platform of reforming it to remove the cliqueyness and bureaucracy etc, but they didn't stand a chance of being elected. There were just too many trots and New-labourites supporting their own tired old candidates. But we can make a stand to show just how much contempt we have for it.

I propose that for the next conference, students who are dissatisfied with NUS should make an effort to get elected as a conference delegate with an effort to causing mass disruption at the conference. To get elected is extremely easy - student apathy about the elections is usually so high, that you will only need to get a handful of your friend to vote for you. It would probably even be fairly easy to make sure that half of your university's delegates are 'anti' NUS. And the conference is all-expenses paid for including meals and accommodation.
It's not unrealistic to say that we could get 100 delegates or more with this aim in mind. It just takes a bit of networking, and making sure that the idea is passed around well.

If you are interested, please email me, and I'll start an email list so people can discuss this. The elections for the conference will probably be sometime in the spring term, so it doesn't hurt to start spreading the word now, instead of a week before.
The aim should be to have at least one delegate from every university who can contribute towards this, working in a non-hierarchical, anti-authoritarian way.

Let's show the trots and labourites what 'radical' really means....

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  1. Conference — does it matter