The National Union of Student’s annual conference took place between Tuesday and Friday of this week. Five of Oxford’s seven elected delegates were present and voting in Glasgow, with two not voting on any motions.
This conference saw the election of Zamzam Ibrahim as NUS President. Ibrahim, the former president of the Salford University students’ union, vowed in her manifesto to hold a National Student Strike, calling for free education, an improved student maintenance allowance and the return of the post-study work visa for overseas students.
Among the motions discussed, Oxford SU delegates voted to support the Mental Health Charter. This would seek to improve standards of mental health provision and funding across universities, acknowledging alarming rates of student suicide and the ongoing “mental health crisis”.
All Oxford delegates voted against the motion to revoke gender quotas within the SU. The proposer highlighted the now-increased presence of women in the organisation, since the rule’s creation in 2014, as well as the potential harm to non- binary individuals that a 50% female quota poses. The last 5 NUS presidents have identified as female, with racial discrimination featuring more often than gender inequality in this year’s manifestoes.
The conference itself was marked from the outset by sitting president Shakira Martin’s admission of the NUS’s financial trouble. Telling the conference that “we should have run out of cash”, Martin stated: “We are having problems that we need to sort out”.
This follows the November announcement that the NUS was unable to pay off a £3m deficit, cutting half of its jobs as a result. However, all Oxford delegates voted against a review of the NUS’s finances.
Closer to home, Oxford SU is continuing the hunt for a VP for Charities and Community, a position unfilled by Hilary term’s election. President Joe Inwood also penned a letter this month, calling for the university to revoke the honorary degree given to the Sultan of Brunei.
Oxford SU has been contacted for comment on the proceedings.