The National Union of Students held a national demo in November and The Pulse’s Comment Editor went along. Here’s her account of the day.
“My feet are killing me, I am frozen right through to the bone, but I’m on my way home after an exhilarating day. I must have walked 5 miles today rather than just the 2 ½ miles of the march, because it took me ages to find where the start was.
Nobody seemed to have any idea, not even all the people handing out the placards and leaflets. It was worth it in the end though.
What with the samba drummers blasting out music, the numerous flares which were set off and the many chants which were shouted along the way such as ‘Students and Workers Unite and Fight’, it was a very enjoyable walk. It made a long and probably, otherwise tedious walk, appear to pass relatively quickly. There were students from all over the country there, including 300 students who travelled down from Scotland.
Lecturers, academics, library workers, college students and university students all marched side by side. There were numerous banners and placards covering topics form Donald Trump, Theresa May, Austerity, Rent, Debt, Islamophobia, Racism to Education.
I am sure there were many more topics but right at this moment, I can’t recall them. I would like to say a big thank you to the universities who used their spare time, making the many placards. They were a godsend because, I would not have carried my own all the way to London on a train.
Once at the rally point, we had speeches from the likes of the President of the National Union of Students, Malia Bouattia (NUS), the General Secretary for the University of College Union (UCU) Sally Hunt, Vice President of Further Education Shakira Martin and the President of UCU Ron Goodfellow, amongst others. There were even recordings of support, one of which was from Jeremy Corbyn.
Malia Bouattia, who came to this country as a refugee, spoke about the Government’s, attempt to privatize our education, to over crowd our classrooms, to sack our staff and of our choice of a life time of debt or a diminishing job market. She said that, we were marching in defence of ‘Post 16 Education’ and ‘for the future of our society’. She mentioned crumbling conditions, sky rocketing rent and fewer welfare services.
She also mentioned how, we are told to fear and exclude migrant communities, black communities, and Muslims. Also, how teachers, lecturers and nurses are being turned into extensions of the Intelligence Service and Border Agencies, to prevent ethnicity registers, in our schools.
Malia said that, the campaigns this year were to liberate education and demand a fair, free, accessible education for all, to fight for affordable housing, and to fight to say that Muslims are welcome here; that they are entitled to, the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
Malia said to, ‘unite against all forms of fascism’, to ‘tackle hate crime’ and to ‘make our campus’s and communities, a safe place for all’.
Sally Hunt riled up the crowd and there were numerous roars of cheers. She said, ‘we stand for education, inclusion and welcome’, because of statements made by Nigel Farage and she said, ‘we stand angry women and men, for equality and proud of it’, because of comments made by Donald Trump. Sally, mentioned how proud she was that, the UCU stood side by side with NUS, to call for an end to the expansion of profit education, an end to the slashing of further education and an end to the exploitation of college and university staff, who were kept on insecure contracts and of course, to an end to student loans and debt.
One thing that the NUS is calling for, is for all final year student to boycott the NSS (National Student Survey). The NSS is, reliant of student participation to gather information. Its purpose is to inform league tables, is used to monitor staff, and will be a key metric to the Governments proposed Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). The Nation Union of Students say ‘It is vital we exercise our power now and have a mass boycott.
You may have not been able to attend the demo, in London, but you can make a stand now.
Go visit the NUS website and if you are a third-year student then make a stand; join the other universities across the country and boycott the NSS.”