April 13, 2014 at 1:03 am | Blog | No comment

The latter two days were so busy and draining on me, I’ve not had much chance to recite my experiences until now, back at home in Bristol.

Breakfast at the Adelphi.

Breakfast at the Adelphi

After a brief sleep in the Adelphi Hotel (and managing not to fall out of my bed), we were treated to breakfast downstairs. Considering the hotel wasn’t fantastic, to have an alright buffet breakfast was nice. The coffee…. less coffee more hot water with a dash of coffee. Not again.

9am, it was time to get back into the swing of things and continue where things were left off. I didn’t mention in my last post, but a procedural motion got passed to extend the ‘guillotine’, i.e. give more time to a policy zone before everything is cut off. So we were still discussing Education Zone.

Debate and motions continue to go on, then we get to Motion 215 labelled ‘A new deal for Education Funding’, the basics is improve funding by lobbying politicians ahead of the general election. Fair enough, then amendment 215c comes along called ‘Free Education’. Hazard a guess what that means. Now this amendment caused a lot of debate, and eventually after a lot of debate and procedural motions, it came to a vote… and it was close. 280 for – 213 against. The whole vote had to be counted, and had to be done the old fashioned way by locking up the room and holding up your voting card. My arm hurt after a while, as did most of the conference floor.

After all that, motion 215 passed to mixed response, we then went on to starting the Elections to elect the next NUS president. Hear speeches, vote on the way out, pretty simple. Then onto the lobby where it’s full of campaigning for the next round of voting, three of the VP’s.

Picture of the NUS Conference 2014 lobby with lots of people promoting their candidates.

Back into conference after the break, we go into the Welfare zone (Tom was happy). During this zone, a number of motions came up under the topic of ‘Zero hours contract’. The basis here was people wanted them to be banned completely. As someone who’s employed by their Students’ Union under a ‘immoral’ zero hour contract, I don’t want to see them banned. Now I can see why people view them as wrong, I can see how employers can abuse them. However they give so much flexibility to employees like myself. I can choose to do only a few hours one week, yet do 30 the next. To see me restricted to contracted hours would not be beneficial to me or my employer. That’s my view on the matter. Some of these motions passed, some did not. I’m just thankful my own Students’ Union does not have to adopt this policy.

The day continued onwards, elections were had, union development thanks to the two guillotine extensions earlier in the day and on day one, Union Development zone was unfortunately hit. None of those motions were discussed which was saddening. The only discussion was on what was now pointless and annoying procedural motions which had started to become the norm. 🙁

After a full day of elections and motions, before things could end came the AGM. This had another set of interesting motions, including Motion 701 and 702. In short, the motion set out to block out 50% of exec for self-defining women, and 50% of NUS delegates have to be self-defining women, all in the name of equality. Now before I get myself beheaded with my views, I am for equality! (Hi, LGBT student here). However, I don’t think that blocking out 50% for women is the best way. As Lisa pointed out to me since we had discussions about it, she wants to be elected on merit and to represent all students, not just female. She was livid about the motion, and had actually prepared a speech against it. It was a shame she was never selected to speak on the matter but shows that this was a very heated debate. Oddly enough, when it came to a vote, it was close and we went to a count again. This count took about half an hour as well.

After all that, the AGM was stopped and set to continue into day 3, and after a bite at Nando’s a short rest was well needed. No partying for me or half our delegation. Bright and early at 7am the next day though since we were helping out with Tom for his Block of 15 campaign. No shower though, the water in the hotel was coming out slightly brown. I dread to think what’s caused that.

Day 3 morning was spent handing out flyers to delegates (which I hate doing) before conference resumed. Today was more on finishing the AGM and elections for Block of 15, DPC and trustees so was a less intense day.

 

AGM resumed later on that day, and boy did the procedural motions get out of hand. There was challenges to voting count, then a challenge of no confidence in the chair for preferential selecting of delegates for speeches (which I could see the point and sympathise on). That failed, people moved on. Started going through lapsed motions and emergency motions, eventually someone put in a procedural motion to suspend all procedural motions. Finally, someone saw sense. I didn’t even know you could do that. That passed, we finished the rest of the AGM and conference in relative peace.

And so, NUS conference came to an end, and I arrived back in gloomy Bristol around 8pm. Overall, this was a definitely interesting experience, was nice to hear some passionate debate and to represent my union and university on a national scale was something different. Would I do it again… depends how mad I feel. 🙂

 

 

April 13, 2014 at 1:03 am | Blog | No comment

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