Ah, the strikes debacle. Remember that cold long February last academic year? We had the Beast from the East and the UCU lecturer strikes, leaving students out in the cold (literally and academically). As if it couldn’t get any worse, Council happened…
Ronnie Reid, SU President for 2017/18, submitted a motion arguing that the reason for the strikes – frustrations over pension contributions for staff – was not in keeping with student value for money. This was basically just a way for Ronnie to propose that NUSU publicly opposed the university raising its contributions to provide staff with a fair pension. Understandably, this made a lot of strike supporters angry, and Emily Sherwood (Marginalised Genders Officer 2017/18) submitted an emergency motion calling for NUSU to support the strike.
Council went about as well as you’d expect. It was packed full of strike supporters – and a few opposers too – and both sides went at it to fight for their cause. Loud cheers from the crowd suggested that the motion to support the strike would pass, by sheer numbers of supporters who had got Casual Voting Places for this motion.
Naturally, as often happens in council, things did not go the way the debate suggested. Both motions failed, leaving NUSU in the ridiculous position of remaining neutral in this hugely important issue. The cherry on top was Emily resigning after the result. Seeing them defiantly placing their Part-Time Officer badge on the table in front of Chair of Council was such a poignant moment. It was a whole mess – but you have to respect Emily for standing by their beliefs and refusing to engage in the forced neutrality created by this council motion deadlock. Student politics CAN work…but I really hope we don’t get any more strikes, I don’t think my heart can take that stress again.