Being a student in an NUS election
It may be hard to believe but I didn’t come to university to run to be an NUS officer. I know, shock face. I came to get my degree, play a bit of sport, join a few societies and then go and get a good job. Fair to say it didn’t work out like that!
I spent the first two years complaining about how bad my SU was. Like many of you involved in your unions I got suckered in. I realised I cared too much to walk away and let it continue to fail the people who needed it most. My time as an officer was great, we got to change so much, keeping people in education who without institutions like mine wouldn’t even be in education. While I was doing this locally I started to complain about my national union. I got (and still do) frustrated with political fighting getting in the way of helping students unions that are new, small or in FE develop. The more I talked about how I felt NUS was letting me and my students down the more people I found agreed with me and I was encouraged to run for block of 15 at national conference in 2016.
While I have been on block I’ve found it hard to make the changes I think are desperately needed. So I started to think about running for a full-time officer position. As I weighed it up and spoke to those who I can only thank for their honesty and encouragement, I knew full well that it was going to be a struggle. It wasn’t the people or the politics that scared me it was the fact that I am studying while I work full time. Over the two month campaigning period I have found myself having to compromise my current job, not be able to afford to pay for rent, bills, a growing student loan and giving up my hobbies and spare time to make the calls, write the blogs, do my assignments.
I’ve thought about walking away but then I go to campus and meet my friends who face these barriers throughout the entirety of their degree. Deciding whether to focus on study or providing for themselves or their families. They are why I keep going in this election. I can’t travel the country and do the visits as I don’t have the time or the money and for that I am sorry but I’m looking forward to meeting many of you at conference and chatting about your experiences and hearing your ideas to how our national union can help all its members not just those that can afford to be involved.
As conference approaches I will keep racking up the debt, asking for deadline extensions and reaching out to officers and delegates across the UK so that maybe we can change NUS. Change it so it spends less time arguing and more time acting to improve the lives of my friends on my course and the millions others who don’t have the support they deserve.
I can’t wait to see you all at conference in a couple of weeks. I’m sure a lot of what I’ve said here relates to a lot of people trying to engage with their national union so please drop me a line, I’d love to chat! Together we can change this. Here’s a link to my facebook page!