NUS Conference 2018: the facts

Image credit: willowbarbican

Yesterday marked the start of the NUS’ annual conference. Taking place in Glasgow, the event will last three days, until the 29th of March.

The main order of business will be the election of 29 new executive NUS roles. Of these, 6 are full-time officer positions, and 23 are voluntary committee roles. These include 5 full-time vice-presidential roles across four “zones” (welfare, union development, society & citizenship, with higher education and further education split into two separate sections).

Elections will also be held for 4 NUS UK directors and 4 Democratic Procedures Committee members, as well as 15 National Executive Council (NEC) members, more commonly known as the “Block of 15”. Voting for these candidates is arranged proportionally via multiple vote counts. Five positions in the “Block of 15” are reserved for higher education, whilst 50% are reserved for self-defining female candidates.

The final and most important election will be for NUS President. Shakira Martin, the incumbent president, is standing for re-election, and will face Momin Saquib, the Students’ Union president of King’s College London, running on a manifesto of ridding the NUS of its “internal political turmoil”, and Sahaya James, who aims to “radically overhaul” the NUS.

Martin has faced numerous accusations of bullying and harassment during her time as NUS president from her fellow elected candidates. Back in January, Martin was vilified for comparing criticism of her to being in an emotionally abusive relationship, prompting Hareem Ghani, the NUS Women’s Officer, to file a complaint against her.

Old friendships have also turned into rivalries, as James, former left-wing NUS ally of Martin until the latter’s vice-presidential, and then presidential, candidacy as a more centre-aligned option, runs against her.

Cambridge favourite Amatey Doku, the current vice-president of the NUS, is also standing for re-election this year. He will face competition from NEC member and LSE student, Ana Oppenheim. Whilst Doku has expressed support for Martin’s bid for re-election, Oppenheim has recently been involved in the far-left organisation National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), primarily made up of activist students and workers in the education sector.

Votes for all positions are cast by delegates, selected by students at their home universities to represent the student body. This year’s Cambridge delegates include Connor MacDonald, Miriam Gauntlett, Angus Satow and Carine Valarché, alongside CUSU Women’s Officer Lola Olufemi and CUSU president, Daisy Eyre. Elected in November, the delegates were selected with just over 7% of the 23,803-strong University student body casting their votes.

This year, the delegates have promised increased transparency, providing a public spreadsheet with their voting records. You can find the document here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1e_9mQWEYqtCiaQ8aWhh8zeePcHl_tpESJmwEIKbbkMw/htmlview#

You can also follow the developments through the event’s YouTube livestream (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6N987STy-E), or by following CUSU’s Daisy Eyre and Lola Olufemi, both of whom are live-tweeting the event.

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