NUS President Toni Pearce has announced that, despite having declared support for this month’s ‘Free Education’ Demonstration in September, the National Union of Students are no longer backing the demo. However, LUSU have declared their continued support for the demonstration that is set to take place on Wednesday of Week 7.
Ronnie Rowlands, LUSU VP (Campaigns and Communications), told SCAN that despite the national representative body for students pulling their support, LUSU’s policy in support of Free Education is dictating their actions. “We’ve policy pledging our support for free education, and this demonstration is a chance for students to fight for its place on the political agenda. The national executive of the NUS democratically voted to back this demo, and it is only the ‘executive authority’ of a small number of NUS officers overruling that decision.”
Speaking in Week 4, LUSU VP (Education) Joe O’Neill told SCAN that plans were in full flow for the demo, with numerous other unions donating money, as well as the Vice-Presidents and President themselves, to make the protests financially viable for students.
Rowlands was critical of the the sudden U-turn by the small number of NUS members who have decided against involvement. “I’m not convinced by the shaky arguments put out by the NUS President and suspect there are other motives – I don’t know what they are and, frankly, I don’t care. Other members of the LUSU FTO team and I are minded to agree with the resolve of NUS Scotland and push on with this, and not to let top table politicking prevent LUSU from fulfilling its mandates.”
Toni Pearce appeared on campus in Week 5 as part of Assembly For Change, where she held a question and answer session and a keynote speech, which will likely see Free Education as an important topic. In a statement she said that with “huge reluctance and regret” NUS could not support the demonstration. Pearce stated that support had been withdrawn from the demonstration “with the NUS Vice Presidents and Liberation officers who hold significant concerns regarding an unacceptable level of risk that this demonstration currently poses to our members.”
According to Rowlands, whether or not the NUS supports the demonstrations is completely unimportant to the stance which LUSU themselves have chosen to take. “I simply do not care about the anxieties of NUS Full Time Officers; they are an utter irrelevance to me, and in this case, they are to LUSU’s resolve on this matter as well.”