At about 4pm today, during my first NUS National Executive Committee (NEC) I defended students who vote Conservative, members of our 'student movement' who have voices that are as important as any other single student in the UK. I got laughed at by some members of NEC whilst I was speaking. I got laughed at for undertaking my role; speaking on behalf of the Students' Unions and their members that I represent.
Am I angry about this? No. I am disgusted.
This week I led the publication of an open letter directed at NEC, because I feared this was going to happen, that NEC would feel once again like National Conference, where the people we elect to represent students don't do that, and you; Students' Unions and students have no voice whatsoever.
I am really, really sorry if you are from a Union that didn't get asked to sign the letter in advance of NEC, but the principle remains, and this is it...
NUS must be responsible to Students' Unions, it needs to be re-active, inspirational, dynamic, forward thinking and innovative, it needs to provide solutions to issues and support Students' Unions when things go wrong.
Most of all though, NUS must be representative, and today NEC let down the 600+ Students' Unions in the UK by not only making the decisions it did, but by conducting itself in the way which was played out this afternoon.
Grass roots activism is really hard nationally, and I will openly defend every single Officer I led to sign the open letter this week because it made a really important point.
We want our National Union back.
NUS isn't perfect, it's Full Time Officers don't always get everything right and I am absolutely at the forefront of being a critic of it. However, our National President receiving a censure was the most outrageous 'political' precedent I have ever had to endure, and not in anyway a representation of Students' Unions and students.
I am still really excited to work with Students' Unions and Officers this year, separating out my politics and speaking on behalf of students across the UK at what could be one of the most important political spaces for students of our time.
This isn't the end for NEC, I have to go again, if I like it or not, but really, secretly I love it.
Why you might ask?
Because I know we are going to win for students one way or another.
I'll get back to Bath tomorrow and there are loads of things I'm going to reflect upon from today. I do however know though that we must look further, think smarter, fight harder and prioritise actual students and the members of NUS; Students' Unions.
NEC can work, and it will. It's not going to be easy, and you might get some abuse on Twitter, be accused of ignoring sections of the 'student movement' or feel like it's not worth the fight, but I'll be there and so will others, who understand that our power is built on our tactics and our politics being different but that we are strong because we prioritise students and Students' Unions.
Have a look at #nusnec online to see the havoc as it unfolded.
I'm going to publish a second blog, which will be more of a statement of the meeting factually and how I voted in motions, but it's important to also know this now...
Today we had 21 motions presented, most of which absolutely did not need to be heard. Which we now have to vote on via email, with no debate, from parts of the country where we can't exchange arguments and decide upon some very decisive policy for NUS.
NEC physically passed motions on; A censure of the National President (21), Supporting Students' Union Officers (1), A Free Education Demonstration (7), Protecting SU's in Northern Ireland (2) and campaigning on grants (10). These motions which are now policy can be found here: http://beta.nusconnect.org.uk/resources/nec-motions-and-amendments-meeting-1-20-july-2015.
Motion 11 on Coke never happened, and it will be voted on, like all the others via email as we ran out of time...
We also heard some very lively Q & A sessions with the Full Time, Liberation and Nation Officers of NUS - the less said the better about these for now.
If I've spoken to you in the last week, I'll be on the phone again this week, to find out what you think of today, and how I can represent you. If you want to speak, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be in touch.
The final thing I want to say is that yes I am disgusted and disappointed by today, but by no means should we give up.