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Shakira Martin wins NUS national presidency

Credit: NUS Connect
Credit: NUS Connect
National president elect, Shakira Martin. Credit: NUS Connect.

After three days of debates, speeches and voting, the National Union of Students (NUS) conference concluded at 2pm this afternoon. Delegates from across the country had gathered in Brighton to elect a new set of NUS officers and debate over six hundred motions on a huge variety of topics, from strengthening the student voice to climate change.

The most significant outcome of the conference was the defeat of the incumbent national president, Malia Bouattia. Shakira Martin (402 votes) beat Bouattia (272) and Tom Harwood (35), with 8 re-open nomination votes. Her campaign focused around issues of equal access to education and protecting students from homelessness and financial insecurity. In her closing remarks, Bouattia congratulated her successor and said that Martin’s election in the face of “institutional obstacles and barriers” of being “a single mother and a black woman from a further education background” was a testament to the progress the NUS had made. Bouattia strongly criticised some of her opponents from her time in office, saying they crossed lines “that really, really should not be crossed.”

In other results, Danny Nasr was narrowly defeated by incumbent Robbie Young for the society and citizenship vice presidency, despite support from University of York Student Union’s (YUSU) Welfare officer Dominic Smithies on twitter. Emily Chapman won the further education vice presidency by just three votes. Details of other results can be found here. University of York NUS delegate Lucas North ran for a place on the Democratic Procedures Committee (DPC), but the results of this election will not be announced until a later date. North promised to work to make the conference more inclusive and to be a “proud liberation candidate.”

Some of the YUSU officers also took to twitter to criticise elements of the conference. Smithies complained about time wasting. Alex Lusty (YUSU activities officer) complained about the “uncomfortable” noise on the floor, echoing Catherine Yarrow‘s criticisms (YUSU Women’s officer). The conference was occasionally loud with strong reactions from the floor and the whole process was conducted at times painfully laboriously. The final motion to be discussed was 601, meaning The University of York’s motion (605) on direct student elections for full time officers could not be debated.