What your reps are up to...

NSU reps volunteer to speak up for Northumbria students, giving their time to improve the student experience. This blog is their place to share views and updates, and we hope it gives an interesting insight into some of the work going on to speak up for students at Northumbria. 

"All Power to the People!"

 Greetings and salutations, good people! It's Ikenna, your Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Rep. I’ve just returned from London, where I had the pleasure of attending my first-ever NUS Black Students’ Campaign Conference – and, let me tell you, it was LIT.

 As is often the case with most first-time experiences, I genuinely had no idea what to expect, and initially found myself feeling a tad nervous because I was rolling solo. However, after meeting (and chatting to) so many beautiful, intelligent and downright amazing brothers, sisters and non-binary siblings from all across the UK, my nerves evaporated faster than dew on a hot morning.

 Besides the networking opportunities, there were also a plethora of thought-provoking plenary and workshop sessions – all led by intensely passionate student activists, organisers and educators – that focused on the myriad issues that disproportionately affect Black students at local, national and international levels.

 Some of my personal highlights from day one included a spirited workshop session on how to draft effective motions aimed at tackling still-prevalent institutionalised racist practices (such as the attainment gap), as well as an eye-opening plenary on the shocking trial-by-media tactics deployed against courageous Black student activists like Lola Olufemi (the Womens' Officer at Cambridge) and Zamzam Ibrahim (President of the University of Salford Students' Union) .

 But it wasn’t all work and no play! The aforementioned activities were followed by a fundraiser dinner for UFFC (United Friends and Family Campaign) – a coalition of individuals affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody. Though for a serious (and very worthy) cause, the event’s vibe was light and cheerful – there were poetry recitals, karaoke performances and even an impromptu stand-up set.

 On day two, in addition to strategic plenaries focused on translating local movements into national and global campaigns, there were also thought-provoking workshop sessions on QTIPOC (Queer, Trans and Intersex People of Colour) inclusion, toxic masculinity and disability inclusion strategies – lots of food for thought!

 In his closing remarks, Ilyas Nagdee (the current NUS Black Students’ Officer) listed the campaign’s recent accomplishments – especially highlighting the many successful celebrations of Black History Month by several member SUs – and pledged the BSC’s continued and unwavering support to all who take up arms in the fight for liberation, equality and diversity.

 If I had to distil the essence of the weekend into one word, it would be “hope”. For students of colour, the march to full equality is still a long way from over, and the road fraught with strife. But, like Mandela once said, our struggle is at a decisive moment - and I, for one, take great comfort in the knowledge that I am not travelling alone.

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