By Heather Wood
Each year the NUS Women’s Campaign hosts an annual conference who define to discuss, debate and vote on motions and all importantly elect the political leadership of the campaign for the year ahead. As well as having the opportunity to participate in workshops, plenaries and have an opportunity to network and share best practice. This year NUS provided some amazing speakers and workshops. Workshops at the conference ranged from Lad Culture, Self-care, intersectionality and much more.
Three delegates from Swansea University were sent to represent the female population. They were Heather Wood (Womens Officer), Amy Das and Hazel Stabler attended the conference early this month in Solihull. Below are their reports from the conference and some tips for next year’s delegates.
What part of the conference did you enjoy the most?
Heather Wood: I enjoyed conversing with other officers and comparing different campaigns on each campus. It was interesting seeing how they dealt with the problems I too have faced and how they overcame them. I thoroughly loved the ‘Self-Care’ workshop that the current NUS UK Women’s Officer, Susuana Amoah took the lead on. It was a great insight into how to ensure self care is the top of my list. Additionally, it gave me some great ideas on how to present my own self care workshop at Swansea University. I hope this workshop with help promote self care in many students, something that among the pressure of part-time work, university work and socials can be forgotten.
Amy Das: I thoroughly enjoyed voting for motions; it was incredible hearing passionate speeches about particular motions, and observing the support and overall positive vibe. I also enjoyed the ‘Lad Culture’ workshop. It gave me the opportunity to explore possible ways for tackling Lad Culture by speaking to other women officers about their experience at their universities.
Hazel Stabler: One of the most exciting parts of the conference was voting on motions which I knew would play a huge role in the NUS. Every delegate had the opportunity to make a difference, and it was a wonderful feeling knowing that so many students from so many universities and colleges had such a huge impact.
Who was the most interesting person/speaker you talked to at the conference?
Heather Wood: I was inspired by Anna Lee and her bravery for fighting for Trans rights despite the critics and the trolls online after she announced her candidacy for UK Women’s Officer. She was an amazing woman and my full solidarity is with her and her inspirational work. In addition to Anna Lee I was in absolute awe with everyone I met. It felt amazing to be in a room with some many passionate feminist students.
Amy Das: Unfortunately I forgot to catch her name, but I had a four hour conversation with a delegate who gave me so much insight as her experience as a woman officer at her respective university, and provided possible ideas on how to encourage or educate people on feminism.
I was also incredibly moved by Anna Lee and Hareem Ghani’s speeches for when they were running for NUS Women’s Officer. Both candidates acknowledged their struggles; Anna Lee talked about her struggles as a transgendered woman while Hareem Ghani talked about her struggles as a Muslim woman – and yet both were (and are) determined to persevere and tackle many other issues that women face. They are extraordinarily inspiring individuals.
Hazel Stabler: Throughout the conference, it was not one individual who made the experience exceptional, but the collective of delegates on a whole who came from different universities and cultures and made decisions which would affect their time at university together. Each and every person I came across was excited to discuss their own universities and experiences, trading ideas to combat women’s issues and engaging in heartfelt discussions.
If you could do anything to improve the conference, what would it be?
Heather Wood: I would introduce more training for the delegates, despite the booklet given at the start of the conference it still hindered first time delegates as the body of the conference is rather complicated. I would like to see a more hands-on training workshop for delegates to ensure that they can grasp the opportunities that the conference offers.
Amy Das: I was overall really impressed by the conference; I do not feel that any aspect of the conference needs to be improved upon.
Hazel Stabler: The long hours can be exhausting, and even though the majority of the conference is spent seated, it is draining to spend so much time concentrating your energy onto motions which sometimes do not pass. (Imagine a lecture where you are expected to vote on each sentence shortly after learning what it means.)
How did you represent Swansea University?
Heather Wood: I represented Swansea University by voting on motions that shaped how NUS will continue to help the best interests of female students over the next few years. I also voted on the NUS Women’s Committee and the NUS Women’s Officer.
Amy Das: As mentioned earlier, I voted for motions which hopefully supports the views of majority of the students at Swansea University. I also interacted with other people from other universities and mentioned my experience as being on the Feminist Society committee at Swansea University.
Hazel Stabler: In numerous caucuses and discussions, I talked with delegates about their own universities and brought ideas of tackling women’s issues straight from our own university. It was exciting to find out exactly how so many opportunities there are to make a difference to the student body, from supporting our Women’s Officer, to fighting for motions within the Students’ Union on women’s issues.
For students who are interested in representing Swansea university next year in the delegate elections, what advice do you have for them?
Heather Wood: Ensure you approach your according liberation officer as soon as possible the delegate positions are filled quickly as deadlines for these conference approach fast. There are many NUS Conferences from Students with Disabilities, to Black Students Conference. More information about these conference can be found on the NUS Website.
If you are interested in attending the NUS Wales Conference or the NUS UK Conference these elections are held at the start of the academic year.
Amy Das: I would thoroughly recommend that you go to the conference with an open mind, and with the intention of interacting with as many people at the conference to apprehend – and maybe even empathise with their personal experiences.
Hazel Stabler: My advice would be to enjoy every second. It is a huge privilege to be a part of such a wonderful event, and especially to meet people who share your same passions and ideas. Very few members of each university are able to attend each event, and each and every person speaks for their fellow students. How often do you have the ability to vote on behalf of your entire student body?
On the 29th of April there will be an NUS Wales Women’s Conference where there will be a focus on how NUS will help the female students in Wales. As well as passing motions, the delegates will be electing the next NUS Wales NUS Conference, taking the role Rosie Inman has held for the past two years. Rosie is Swansea own and will be returning to Swansea University to finish her degree next year.