Shakira Martin, Current VP for Further Education, has been elected as National President at NUS’ National Conference in Brighton

Final Year Philosophy Student & Redbrick News Editor
Images by Joseph Timan

Delegates voted for current Vice President (VP) for Further Education Shakira Martin as the National Union of Students’ (NUS) National President winning over half of the 721 votes received. Current National President Malia Bouattia who was running for re-election received 272 votes, whilst Tom Harwood received 35 votes.

Before the elected, successful candidate Shakira Martin told delegates how she’s learnt so much through her education and involvement in the NUS. Martin also said that she would focus more on NUS members than the organisation currently does.

‘This election is not about the candidates,’ she said, ‘it’s about the membership’. She told conference that more students are living in poverty than ever before and blamed some members of the NUS for being more interested in ‘in fighting and factions than fighting fees’.

Most of the Guild’s delegation voted for Shakira Martin, with Guild President Ellie Keiller telling Redbrick, ‘I really do believe that she is the right person to represent students’. Keiller said that she voted for Martin because she is not focused on party politics, but really focused on students.

However, Guild delegate Xenios Matjilla told Redbrick that he voted for Tom Harwood. Matjilla said that he believed Harwood was ‘the only candidate that will provide the NUS with the change that it so desperately needs’. Matjilla took to Facebook before the conference urging other delegates to do the same.

Before the votes were cast, delegates heard from all the candidates. Current NUS National President Malia Bouattia began the speeches by telling conference about all the work that she has done in her role and what she intends to do if re-elected.

‘Under my leadership, liberation isn’t just a buzzword,’ she told delegates citing examples of closing the black attainment gap and opposing Prevent during her time working at the NUS. Bouattia also spoke about driving the NUS card to deliver more than just discounts by helping students get involved in the movement. She assured delegates about her past efforts in the movement saying ‘I promise that I will not stop’.

Keiller said that she voted for Martin because she is not focused on party politics, but really focused on students

Following Bouattia’s speech, Tom Harwood took to the podium and told delegates about how he would change the NUS by taking a significantly different approach from the current leadership. Harwood, who is a student at Durham University, told delegates that the ‘NUS is in crisis’ and blamed a ‘deficit’ in leadership.

He also condemned the NUS’ National Executive Council (NEC) for refusing to censure the President after report found her guilty of making anti-Semitic comments. ‘When Jewish students say they feel unsafe on this conference floor, we know that there’s a problem’. Harwood told delegates that he would make the NUS more about education for its students which he claimed it has not been under the current leadership.