Students don’t live in hermetically sealed containers, undisturbed by the oppression and exploitation around the world. Yet too often student unions behave as if they do.
We constantly hear the rhetoric of the “average student” concerned only with the costs of printing and nights out, as if campuses aren’t implicated in the injustices which define our society.
When institutions like Oxford and Cambridge invest millions in offshore funds to develop deep sea drilling, climate justice is an issue for our student unions. When institutions act as border guards, monitoring the attendance of international students and facilitating deportations, borders are an issue for our student unions. We have a duty to recognise how our institutions perpetuate global systems of exploitation and force them to enact change.
As NUS President, I want to be part of a student movement that transforms society, not just our campuses.
As over one hundred women are on hunger strike in Yarl’s Wood detention centre for basic rights and dignity, it’s more vital than ever that the NUS shows real and practical solidarity to the movement to shut down all detention centres. I will not pay lip service to these causes, I will join in the demonstrations, as I have done as an activist.
Moreover, we need to fight against the implementation of further restrictions on immigration at every turn. Borders necessitate violence: the violence of being denied free healthcare, the violence of an immigration raid, the violence of deportation. Immigration controls have transformed everywhere from hospitals to homeless charities into functioning as border guards, leaving many migrants with nowhere to turn. Our fellow students have been harmed by these measures.
It’s also time to be serious about climate justice activism. Over one third of UK universities have divested from fossil fuels so far, but we know that our movement has the power to make all universities divest, if we organise. I want to provide resources for divestment campaigns on every campus and give meaningful support to the activists on the ground running campaigns. When 80% of known fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground to avoid further environmental disaster, we can’t afford to sit back and ignore the issue.
Our goal to win a free, accessible and liberated education system for all can’t be separated from a world in which everyone can live, no matter where they are.
There is no issue of justice that is not a student issue. This principle must be embedded into everything we do in the NUS.
We are also calling for support for
•Ana Oppenheim (National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts) for VP Higher Education,
•Zamzam Ibrahim for VP Society and Citizenship,
•Ali Milani for VP Union Development,
•Eva Crossan Jory for VP Welfare,
•NCAFC candidates Justine Canady, Monty Shield and Stuart McMilan for the “block of 15”.