Monthly Archives: March 2013

NUS National Conference 2013 – Union Development Zone motions (500)

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Here is a summary of the motions going to Conference for the Union Development Zone, which concerns how NUS should best support Student Unions in increasing their effectiveness and engagement from members, etc.

For any questions/clarification on voting intentions or NUS or Conference procedure please comment below or email me at axs278@bham.ac.uk

For an intro/recap on Conference in general + all the motions click here.
For the Education Zone motions summary click here.
For the Society & Citizenship Zone motions summary click here.

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NUS National Conference 2013 – Society & Citizenship Zone motions (400)

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Here is a summary of the motions being sent to Conference for the Society & Citizenship Zone of NUS, regarding action and work that the NUS would undertake in the interest of wider social justice, at a local and governmental level.

For any questions/clarification on voting intentions or NUS or Conference procedure please comment below or email me at axs278@bham.ac.uk

For an intro/recap on Conference in general + all the motions click here.
For the Education Zone motions summary click here.
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NUS National Conference 2013 – Education Zone motions (200+300)

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Below is a summary of the motions being sent to Conference for the Education Zone of NUS, which pertain to issues/actions to be taken in the Further Education (200) and Higher Education (300) sectors.
Also includes motion 101 because it doesn’t fit elsewhere.

For any questions/clarification on voting intentions or NUS or Conference procedure please comment below or email me at axs278@bham.ac.uk

For an intro/recap on Conference in general + all the motions click here.

Read the rest of this entry

NUS National Conference 2013 – Introduction

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Between the 8th and 10th of April 2013 the NUS (National Union of Students) will be holding their annual National Conference in Sheffield, where delegates from affiliated Student Unions will be voting on motions and mandates that will define the NUS’ work and course of action over the upcoming years, as well as the Officers and representatives that will lead and (in theory) deliver on those actions.

As one such affiliate Union, the Birmingham Guild of Students will be directly affected by the outcome of Conference, as well as the Education sector across the nation on the whole.
(By extension BEMA, as part of the Guild, will also be affected to some degree, or at least enough to justify this WordPress being hijacked for this series of posts).

As one of those delegates elected to represent the Guild, I think it only right to open up the process and procedure of Conference publicly to any interested parties, so over the upcoming days I will post up on the motions going to Conference – including a brief summary of what the motion entails and mandates, and what direction I intend to vote on at present – and some information on the candidates for full-time Officer positions within NUS (President + Vice Presidents).

Fitting with the structure of NUS, motions are divided into ‘Zones’ which generally represent the areas of remit presided over by a corresponding Officer (e.g. Welfare Zone overseen by the VP Welfare).
A successful motion will then mandate that Zone of the NUS and the relevant Officer(s) to carry through the resolutions of the Motion, and collaborate/get relevant input from affiliate Unions who also make up the Zone (for example, our Guild’s VP Welfare would attend conferences and communicate with the Welfare Zone).

Motions are divided into what ‘Conference Believes’, which ideologically ground or support with evidence the motion, and ‘Conference Resolves’, which set out the action to be taken by NUS towards achieving the goals of the motion (which often involve research/reporting, campaigning/lobbying certain groups, bodies or areas of interest for the sake of NUS’ members/students/education in general.

Amendments to Motions come either in the form of ‘Add Amendments’ (denoted ‘+ Amendment’) which add points of belief or resolution to the main motion, ‘Delete Amendments (‘- Amendment’) which remove points from the main motion, or include a mix of both (‘-/+Amendment’).
Amendments are voted on separately and if passed, are integrated accordingly into the main motion.
Amendments can substantively change the spirit of a motion, hence why you’ll see sometimes in my intentions that I may be Against a motion in its original form, but For an amendment to it.
This would mean that I would be in support for the motion on the whole, were the amendment to pass.

Zones:

200 – Further Education (FE)
300 – Higher Education (HE)

400 – Society & Citizenship
500 – Union Development
600 – Welfare

also
700 – AGM Proposals

as well as
Officer Candidates

The motions can be viewed in whole below, the links above will be updated when the relevant post/voting intentions have been released.

As it stands i’ve only really included justifications for my voting intentions where I intend to vote Against/in Abstention from a motion – if you have any questions or queries on my intentions in general, or if you want any clarification on NUS/Conference then either comment below or email me at axs278@bham.ac.uk

Edit 4/4 – The individual pages are being updated to reflect the changes made to order and content of the motions between the Draft version and the Final version (which is embedded below now).

NUS Conference motions 2013

Peace,

Azfar

BEMA AGM 2013 results

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On Thursday 21st March, BEMA held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) for 2013 where we elected a new committee for the next academic year, and revised our constitution to include new committee positions and to specify BEMA’s objectives better.

Below are the outcome of the elections, and the Constitution for your viewing.

BEMA Committee 2013-14:
Chair – Olivia Ogolo
Vice Chair/Secretary – Zarah Sultana
Treasurer – Sahar Abdulrahman
Marketing & PR Officer – Seun Alayande
Cultural Liaison Officer – Nerisa Anwar
Local Liaison Officers – Mischa Howell & Ayesha Latif
Campaigns Officer – Samira Musa
Guild Councillor – Azfar Shafi
Co-Chair & Ethnic Minorities Officer – Tracy Makale


Constitution

We wish the new committee all the best and hope that BEMA grows only stronger next year.

Voting intention for Guild Council 21/3/2013

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Here’s how I intend to vote on behalf of BEMA at the March Guild Council being held on Thursday 21st March.
6-10:45pm in Guild Council Chambers, all welcome (also streamed live at redbrick.me)

Also there will be a number of elections held at this Council for positions that any student can run for:

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Our call for a full-time Black Students’ Officer

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Members of BEMA (Birmingham Ethnic Minorities’ Association) are issuing a call for the introduction of a full-time Sabbatical role of a Black Students’ Officer to work alongside the President and Vice-Presidents of the Guild in order to address and specifically tackle the issues affecting the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students who constitute 28% of students at the University of Birmingham[1].
The need for a full-time Black Students’ Officer at the University of Birmingham is a reflection on the extent of the issues at hand here – where levels of BME under-representation, underachievement and disengagement are starkly at odds with the proclaimed values of our institution, and the diversity of our student population.

That virtually all respondents surveyed[2] believed BME students were at a high risk for discrimination, can be taken as an indictment of society at large;
that 1 in 6 BME students surveyed[3] confirmed experience of racism within their educational institute, should highlight the pervasiveness of discrimination;
that 18.4% less BME than White students achieve 1st or 2:1 honours degrees at the University of Birmingham[4], that exclusion and racial bias are reported as a significant issue by Birmingham BME students, and that Birmingham BME graduates are far less likely to be in full-time paid work and far more likely to be unemployed, indicates a crisis that needs to be addressed immediately and with urgency at our University.

The creation of a Black Students’ Officer here would be a crucial step towards tackling locally the widespread and systematic oppression of BME individuals across the country – a reality which BME students are far from immune to.
A full-time BSO would ensure that there is always a representative for BME students prioritising and campaigning for BME issues, and with the resources adequate to effectively deal with those issues. While the BSO would enforce zero-tolerance on overt discrimination within the University, a key part of their role would involve challenging and tackling the covert and structural forms of oppression that characterise many BME students’ racial experience on campus. They would work alongside the Equality & Diversity officers of the Guild and University to address the inequalities in academic attainment and outcome among BME students. And they would campaign for the Guild and University’s provisions – in terms of welfare and services to the content of the taught curriculum – to be more inclusive and representative of BME demands and contributions.
The role of BSO would be to ensure the Guild can respond more proactively, robustly and effectively to the specialised needs and requirements of the BME student population it is supposed to represent, with those struggles being led and developed by members of the disadvantaged group – this being the autonomy and self-organisation aspects fundamental to Liberation groups and campaigns.

The current Non-Sabbatical position of Ethnic Minorities’ Officer is underequipped to tackle these issues, as the part-time/voluntary nature of the role inherently limits the ability of the Officer to maintain all of the entailed responsibilities alongside their studies.
The resignation of this year’s EMO for personal reasons particularly relating to the pressures of the role illustrates the demands of the position, as well as the need for the security of, and Guild support for, the position.
Creating a BSO in itself will not solve the myriad issues afflicting BME students; the role deserves and requires support from the Guild at a structural level to ensure there are no further barriers that would prevent the BSO and BEMA fully actualising the role and its aims.

Furthermore the current EMO position as it stands allows non-Black-ethnic individuals who identify as ‘ethnic minorities’ to run, which undermines the autonomy of the position, and is the reasoning behind adopting the political definition of ‘Black’ to represent ethnically African, Asian, Arab and Caribbean students (in line with the NUS Black Students’ Campaign, for example). The creation of a BSO would show that the Guild recognises the racism and discrimination which these BME communities historically and presently continue to face.

This call echoes the recommendations of the NUS Race for Equality report and the NUS Black Students’ Campaign[6], which highlight how the creation of the role elsewhere has seen increases in BME student participation, mobilisation on campaigns like anonymous marking, brought to prominence the issues of racism and race-based oppression, and has fostered the development of more inclusive student unions and campuses.

BEMA’s call for a full-time Black Students’ Officer is based on principles of Liberation, and so we extend our support and encouragement to any of our fellow Liberation Associations also seeking the creation of Full-time officers for their campaigns.

[1] University of Birmingham Equality Scheme 2011-2015 Evidence Base (2011)
[2] Ethnicity and Gender in Degree Attainment; Jacobs, Owen, Sergeant and Schostak (2007)
[3] NUS Race for Equality report (2011)
[4] University of Birmingham Equality Scheme 2011-2015 Evidence Base (2011)
[5] NUS Black Students’ Handbook 2009-10 (2009)

Signed,

Sacha Hassan (former EMO/BEMA co-Chair),
Akil Henry (BEMA Vice-Chair),
Runako Celina-Bernard Stevenson (BEMA Marketing officer),
Jamila La-Malfa (BEMA PR officer),
Andrew Isabirye (BEMA Treasurer),
Malia Bouattia (NUS Black Students’ NEC rep),
Azfar Shafi (BEMA Guild Councillor),
Olivia Ogolo (BEMA Chair-elect),
Zarah Sultana (BEMA Vice Chair-elect),
Ayesha Latif (BEMA Local Liason Officer-elect),
Mischa Howell (BEMA Local Liason Officer-elect),
Sahar Abdulrahman (BEMA Treasurer-elect),
Samira Musa (BEMA Campaigns officer-elect),
Mohammed Mumit (BEMA member)
Sofia Ahmed (BEMA member),
April Saowani Reilly (BEMA member),
Aaron Kiely (NUS Black Students’ Officer)

Edit 15/3: Updated citations, including directly crediting one initially secondary-sourced.