What happened at Conference?

GSU members attended National Union of Students (NUS) Conferences as delegates.

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Five students

Last week, seven GSU members attended National Union of Students (NUS) Conferences as delegates.

Two conferences took place over the week, the first being National Conference, where delegates are elected by a cross-campus ballot, and the second being Liberation Conference, which Liberation leaders at GSU were given an opportunity to attend.

 

NUS Liberation Conference

We caught up with Rebecca Bloomer who attended the NUS Liberation Conference as a Delegate for Greenwich with fellow student Carl.

She says: “The NUS Liberation Conference was a very intense and very rewarding experience. It was wonderful to be surrounded by other people who are passionate about liberation and discuss our experiences surrounding it.”

The Conference was structured with caucuses and campaign workshops. Rebecca continues: “I found lots of things I want to bring back to Greenwich to help us improve, not just in our liberation work but also in how we can improve the university. From the discussions we had in a workshop about sexual violence on campus and how it can be tackled, it was highlighted that compulsory consent training and active bystander training are essential for all university students. This is something that the University of Leicester has been very active with and I’d love to bring that to Greenwich.”

Safety was a key topic and focused on intersectionality, so that it was not just discussions on women’s safety, but other marginalised groups’ safety too. Rebecca says: “The workshop for discussing and improving a policy put forward regarding women’s public safety and spiking it was highlighted by many delegates that just talking about women in that field doesn’t go far enough and that there needs to be discussions about intersectionality within that.”

A noticeable difference between Greenwich’s model of liberation is that we have volunteer elected Liberation Chairs coming up with campaign ideas and our paid Liberation Organisers doing the work. Whereas most university students’ unions are expecting unpaid volunteers to do the work.

You can follow the Liberation Networks at GSU on Instagram.

 

National Conference

In the Autumn Term you elected Gavin, Zoë, Sharon, and Jabed to attend the National Conference with the GSU President Aatika.

National Conference discusses the major issues taking place across the country and decides how NUS can support the needs of students from their individual institutions. Conference also elects your new elected national student leaders, and you can find out about your new President here: https://www.nus.org.uk/articles/shaima-dallali-elected-president-of-nus-at-2022-national-conference

This was the first time the event has been in person since 2019. The conference discussed topics such as making university accessible, NUS’s new vision for education, tackling gender based violence, student housing co-operatives, and the international student experience during and post-study. 

Zoë says: "The sessions we sat in around Decolonisation also made clear that Greenwich is a leader in the sector with the work we are doing, and that we should share our good practice more often." Aatika also joined in on these conversations and says: "We were afforded many an opportunity to brainstorm, dialogue and debate."

Aatika continues: "I think that learning from peers might’ve (sic) a favourite aspect of the conference, not just on the things I didn’t know much about but on the things I thought I did."

Zoë spoke on her experience: "I had the opportunity to speak with student leaders from across the country about a range of issues, including a policy proposal about making university accessible to all. We had some interesting questions, asking about whether this policy really made university accessible to all - it focused on timetabling for students of faith and mature students - we wanted to see a broader approach that demands more from universities, for more types of students."

Jabed particularly enjoyed meeting up with Margarita Damai the full-time Officer at London Metrolpolitan Students' Union with whom he'd been planning Societies Showdown.

On the event Jabed says: "...conference was (sic) wonderful opportunity to learn new things, connect with NUS Delegates... also to discuss student issues. I have been immensely inspired by the SU Officers from different Unis and colleges."

In Aatika's final words on conference she says: "The conference was, for me, a reaffirmation in the true power of student activism. A reminder in how the mobilisation of the student force can force change. It’s difficult to be in that conference room with that much ambition and to not think that things might not be as impossible as naysayers make them out to be - not if there’s this many people fighting for it."

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