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We’re all back from Conference and have just about caught up on sleep so I wanted to write about some of the more controversial motions that were discussed at the NUS conference and give some top tips for anyone who is considering running to be an NUS delegate next year.
1) Free Education
I voted to support this motion, which passed. Personally, this was a difficult one for me. On the one hand, I don’t believe that campaigning for ‘free education’ helps the NUS as a student movement, particularly in the run up to the General Election. I have concerns that calling for free education to be included in any manifesto gives the three main political parties justification to dismiss us as a radical movement and thus ignore the very important principles behind this motion and the other issues on which we campaign.
However, when it came to the vote, I believe that free education as a principle is an important one, and one which ties very much into the anti-commercialisation of education which I fully support. I see voting for free education as a statement of principle rather than a cast-iron guarantee. This motion, in my view, reiterated the principle that education has a value other than financial and that access to education should not be hindered by individual financial constraints. I believe that the NUS campaigning for free education will place these important points on the political agenda. However, I also believe that the NUS leadership team has a responsibility to make sure that the NUS is not alienated or cast aside by ensuring that campaigning for free education is about the long-term principles which underpin NUS as a student body, rather than the immediate demands for the 2015 election.
2) NUS London
I voted to support this motion, which did not pass. I believe that regional organisation is a wholly positive thing, and whilst as a Northerner, I fully understand the concerns which were raised by delegates around the country; I believe that NUS London would have helped to begin a process of organising collective action on a regional basis.
I fully supported the amended version, which sought to remove the commitment to work with UAF as part of tackling anti-racism and passed. I don’t believe that working with UAF was in keeping with NUS’s strong tradition of ensuring access and a safe space for all. Similarly, there is nothing to say that NUS is incapable of organising a similarly large and active anti-racism. I believe that not working with UAF will help to ensure that the anti-racism campaigning is fully accessible and welcoming to students of all backgrounds, specifically Jewish students and women who are alienated by UAF.
4) National Demo in summer term
I supported this motion. I believe that demos are a important ways of drawing attention to issues and that it is important to begin campaigning for election year united and strong as a student movement.
5) Fair Representation on committees and within delegations
I voted for both of these motions, which both passed. I wish it was not necessary to pass such a motion, but unfortunately it was. We live in an unequal society and all too often women’s voices are lost. It is hugely important that we ensure that women’s views, voices and issues are consistently heard and part of the student movement. This motion helps to ensure this can happen. One quote from the debate on this issue sums it up for me “This is not about the women that are here, but the women who are not.”
1) Bring a bottle of water – there wasn’t any water fountains and I’m too stingy to pay £1.50 for a bottle every time I need a drink
2) Bring lots of snacks – there were a few bits of food but not much chance to have any!
3) Read through the motions before you go to get an initial feel of the issues
4) Try and find as much as you can about the different factions within the NUS
5) Try and understand the bureaucracy of the NUS Conference before you go as it can get quite confusing if you’re playing catch up
6) Meet as many people as you can!
7) Attend fringes. It’s very tempting to use this time for cigarettes/coffee/food or naps but they are really interesting and incredibly helpful if you are involved in student politics or the Student’s Union.
8) Always bring chargers!!
9) Get up and speak, even if just for parts or procedural motions
10) Have fun! This is a chance to have a say on the activities of one the largest campaigning bodies. This is hugely important, especially for next year when we (hopefully!) will have a different government!!
If you want to speak to me about standing for NUS Delegate or to know how I voted on each of the motions, send me an email at email@example.com
I personally find it difficult to do anything that requires I remain inside once it starts to get warm out. After spending so much time indoors this winter, avoiding the sun is the last thing I want to do. Luckily, there are quite a few outdoors activities available to you now that it’s spring, ranging from renting a bike to pedal boating. Here are just a few ideas to consider:
1. Try roller blading in one of the Royal Parks or Green Spaces
Hyde Park specifically mentions roller blading as one of the sports it allows, and there are quite a few opportunities to rent roller blades to take part in the activity. If you’ll be here in August, you can sign up for a course through Citiskate, but if you’re looking for things to do now, check out a few different skate rental places around the city. A quick google search revealed that Slick Willies rents roller skates for about £10 a day, with varying options for length of rental or full-on purchase. They are open Monday-Saturday from 10am-6:30pm, and Sunday from 12-5pm, and they are located at 12 Gloucester Road, London SW7 4RB. The closest tube stops are Gloucester Road and HIgh Street Kensington, just a few blocks away from Hyde Park. Here’s a list of skating tips from TimeOut London for reference.
2. Rent bikes from the Barclays Cycle Hire
You’ve definitely seen the cycles for hire around the city by now- they’re impossible to miss. Renting one and taking it for a spin around the city is a great way to exercise and experience London in a different way. On top of that, it’s also a great way to spend some quality time outside. For reasonable prices, you can rent a bike by the hour and take it to a local park. Or if you’re quite good at navigating traffic, taking a ride through the city might be a nice option. Check out this article on How to Cycle in London for safety tips and more information.
3. Boat on the Serpentine
Last time I visited Hyde Park, I noticed a bunch of pedal boats on the Serpentine. The pedal boats are available to rent at £12 per hour (or £10 for 30 minutes). It looked like it could fit about four people (that would be £2.50 a person if you’re in a group of four), so it’s a reasonably priced healthy activity. On top of being healthy and inexpensive, you’re also getting some sun, which is always nice.
4. Take a walking tour
I mentioned this in an earlier post, but now is a great time to take a walking tour of the city. There are quite a few tours available, and it’s a great idea for a break from revision. It’s also a good idea to get to know the city a bit if you’re like me and you’re about to leave in a few months. There’s no time like the present! Here are a few links to take a look at if you’re interested in taking a walking tour:
I recently came across a really great leaflet from the LSE Student Counselling Service called Exam Stress Management Tips. Since the advice it offers is so fantastic, I decided to break it down a bit and add a bit of my own take on it. Exam season is so stressful, and it’s really important to take care of yourself and organize your time in the most effective way. Here are a few tips to keep you as stress-free and prepared as possible.
1. Schedule your time wisely
Instead of waiting until the last minute, be sure to schedule your time wisely. You’ve got quite a few weeks to study for exams (depending on your programme, of course), so if you start now, you’re already doing yourself a favor. Nothing scream “stress” like a last minute all-nighter before an exam because you failed to prepare ahead of time. Try to make a (realistic!!) list of days and times you intend to study for specific subjects, and make sure it includes some breaks and time for relaxing. If the schedule is balanced and you can stick to what you’ve planned, you’ll thank yourself later.
2. Get motivated
I find it incredibly difficult to get things done without the pressure of a looming deadline. When I have something due in a few weeks, it’s hard to get myself going on it unless I’ve set a positive reward at the end (that is, aside from having a completed paper). In an effort to motivate myself, I’ve started rewarding finished work with a trip to a park or a television show. It may seem a bit silly, but it’s might work for you if you try it out. Warning: this system requires lots of self-control. The leaflet specifically recommends a system of rewards for achieved goals, beginning with the more interesting subjects, establishing a routine, and reminding yourself why you’re here in the first place- for the qualification!
3. Learn actively
The handout emphasizes the importance of revising in a meaningful way. This requires taking notes, testing yourself on the material as you write and revise, and creating helpful reminders for use during your exams. Highlighting all the important sentences and taking basic notes can be helpful, but they’re not going to take you to the next step of actually understanding the material.
I mentioned this in a few other posts, but sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your body. When you’re stressed out and you’ve got a ton of stuff to do, it’s easier to eliminate sleep than it is to eliminate a few hours of studying or a meal. That makes it pretty tempting to skip out on a few hours of sleep in favor of doing some last minute revising. While this might be helpful in some ways (I’ve done it many times), it’s detrimental to your overall health, and it’s not going to help you the next day during your exam when you can’t keep your eyes open. Check out this post on the importance of sleep for more information.
That’s all for now, but stay tuned for tips for the day of an exam, ranging from how to deal with last minute panic and how best to get comfortable. Good luck revising!
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