Solidarity with the Birmingham Library Protestors!

NCAFC condemns the management of the library of Birmingham for their decision to ban dozens of anti-cuts activists from reentering the public building in the near future. We stress that these activists – almost exclusively students – consist of the library’s core regular users, and thus care most about the prosperity and longevity of their building.


We believe that the draconian measures implemented by library staff are a betrayal to activists who are willing to fight against austerity on the building’s behalf, and will only further alienate members with a vested interest in maintaining their place of learning and study.
NCAFC denounces such an act of false consciousness – ushered on by the intimidating police, whose presence at the peaceful protest was beyond superfluous – attempting to make enemies of library staff and working-class students alike, both of whom are at the receiving end of humiliating austerity.


We likewise rebuke the government for its series of cuts to essential public services, facilitating the closing down of 150 libraries on average per year. We condemn our government for investing £188.8 million in creating Europe’s largest public cultural space, only to thereby abandon its duty to subsidise for the services necessary to sustain it. In implementing such devastating cuts, NCAFC believe that the government have abandoned those who most benefit from the space; the most disadvantaged in our society, including the unemployed, disabled, sick and elderly.
NCAFC gives our solidarity to the brave activists who partook in Friday afternoon’s protest, organised at the behest of students from King Edward VI College, Stourbridge (with the support of Birmingham Against the Cuts, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Birmingham Trades Union Council and Friends of the Library of Birmingham). Many of the banned students are from BME and underprivileged backgrounds, to whom the library serves as their only space for studying and learning outside of college/ university. With final examinations looming, it is essential that they have access to the library and its services at such a crucial period of their lives.

As representatives of thousands of students and workers across Britain, we call upon the library of Birmingham to revoke its banning orders from the activists who were acting in good will to defend their cultural space. NCAFC calls upon the library management and staff to unite with the activists in the common struggle to end government cuts and restore the library facilities to the capacity it was built for. The library of Birmingham belongs to the people of Birmingham, and only by working together can we reverse the damage done to our public space.

Beth Redmond’s speech for NUS President

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This is the speech given by NCAFC’s Beth Redmond in the 2015 election for National Union of Students president.

[Read more…]

UAL management forces students out under threat of arrest: the fight continues!

10420189_1579277828978603_3413652750324775521_nAfter a number of weeks, University of the Arts London (UAL) students have been forced to leave their occupation of the reception area in Central Saint Martins. The occupation was the first phase of a campaign to fight against the scrapping of 800 places on foundation courses at UAL, jeopardising dozens of jobs and entrenching the division between further and higher education at the university. The occupation also fought on the basis of a broader layer of free education demands: for campus democracy and against institutional racism.

Students left the occupation on Tuesday 14th April, with a hundreds-strong demonstration that rallied outside the court and then outside the occupation. Follow Occupy UAL for updates and photos.

Management had originally attempted to personally victimise 15 named students in the process of getting the injunction – threatening them with many thousands of pounds in legal fees.

In leaving the occupation, students managed to win a commitment from the university to review the cuts to foundation courses, as well as a guarantee that that management would not pursue any costs or disciplinary measures against anyone in connection to the protests. However, the campaign is far from won – and neither is the determination of students to fight. More protest is expected in the coming weeks and months. Watch this space for details!

Check out the Channel 4 report here

Other news reports:

The student movement must stand up for migrants’ rights!

isBy Beth Redmond

I’m calling for NUS and the whole student movement to organise, mobilise and speak up for migrants’ rights.

With the rise of UKIP, and the “mainstream” parties who created the conditions for it pandering to its anti-immigration agenda, this could not be more urgent. The general election has become a festival of anti-migrant bigotry – driven by UKIP, the Tories, the right-wing press and, shamefully, the collaboration of the Labour Party. [Read more…]

The university is a factory: a response to the strategy discussion

middlesexoccupationThis is a response to the discussion piece published on this website: ‘We need a strategy! 3 next steps for the free education movement’. 

The author of this piece is Sean Farmelo. Sean is a recent graduate from Birmingham and is involved in Defend Education Birmingham and Plan C.

Do you have a contribution you want to make to the discussion? Email it to [email protected] 

The Free Education movement has latched on to the post-2010 upsurge of anger against increased fees. It has also made attempts to link up with unions and workers against casualisation and privatisation in the university. What it hasn’t fully articulated yet is a strategic attack on the university as a factory, which views students as workers themselves. NCAFC needs to work towards a strategy that firmly relocates the student within the labour movement.

 There are calls within NCAFC to build on the free education movement and towards a student strike in the same way that CL(ASSE) in Quebec did, and perhaps also to build an alliance with other groups against austerity. This would be initiated in winter 2015/16, and would be set in a new context, potentially with Labour in power.

Campaign Against Climate Change are calling for a series of student occupations during the COP21 conference – they are looking to do this across Europe, but do not have the clout or connection to student movements. This call should only be answered if it links strategically with the struggles and demands of the free education movement. Students are workers, and in a society premised on fossil fuel consumption they will be integral towards the struggle to break that premise.

This can’t be done through calls for divestment of funds alone; it is important to see the university as a site which does more than just invest in fossil fuel capitalism, it produces it. Through research, and through its curricula and class composition, it aids the production of workers shaped for fossil fuel capitalism – engineers, bank managers, economists. To tackle this, our response needs to have its basis in striking against the smokestacks and engine rooms of the university.

In Birmingham we used to say that we occupy because we can’t effectively withdraw our labour from the university, and occupations are a way for us to cause economic disruption. Although this is true, as the university has put many barriers in front of students and occupations are one of the only forms of struggle available, it is perhaps not ambitious enough. Occupations should be undertaken because they create arenas for discussion and pressure the university in a public manner. But we should not think that this is the only way to disrupt the main arteries of the university. Universities are in the business of producing research and handing our degrees in return for money, this is the angle of production we need to see as crucial to leverage.

Quebec provides a template for us of how student struggles can be situated within the broader struggle against austerity. In 2012, the student strikes held a focus on tuition hikes, although this was widened to the rest of the society when the Charest government attempted to outlaw protest wholesale. This year’s iteration of protest is being dubbed the ‘New Maple Spring’ and was launched under the broader banner of ‘Unite Against Austerity’, explicitly seeing their role as students in a broader struggle against capitalism – which affects everything from the struggles of indigenous first nation people to that for women’s liberation.

The technique they have used, that of the student strike, requires a huge groundwork of preparation which would be near impossible to pull off in British universities by this winter, although it might be possible to build in certain departments on campuses. In Quebec, significant amounts of work went into developing a political consciousness on a departmental level so that when the vote went out for striking, students had the numbers and legitimacy to militantly picket what they call the factory line – stopping lectures and seminars and refusing to hand in work. Although marches in London are a good opportunity to bring the movement together to make a statement to the government, this should not be our main focus (whether NUS support one or not). Instead we should focus on making our workplaces, the universities, contested areas of struggle.

European movements are discussing the ideas behind the process for a transnational social strike in a series of international meetings. These meetings are tying together groups – unions, collectives and social centres – involved in the Blockupy process. Blockupy has previously focused on the ECB in Frankfurt, but has become a broad platform from political parties like Die Linke and Syriza to autonomist collectives. Our strength comes from our power to refuse work. This work isn’t always waged. Capitalism is a system that depends on us taking on evermore than we can cope with and externalises whatever costs it can, be they environmental, or in the case of education, the cost of university tuition and the lack of a wage or grants.

The idea of a social strike, as it was originally developed, relates to the concept of the social factory – the idea that the sphere of production has escaped the factory and seeped into the rest of society. The era of the strike is associated with the era of the Mass Worker, with very large workplaces, clear lines of antagonism between workers and managers, and with collective break times and visible factory gates giving opportunities for communication and agitation.

Now most workplaces have been broken up through outsourcing to the global south, work has become more precarious and the kinds of work we tend to do have changed. This precarity can also be seen in the university, with loss of tenured academics, and postgraduates being pitted against each other for REF scores. Institutions themselves battle it out for league table positions. The building of collective knowledge has been sidelined in favour of individualisation of work and research. This is not to say that the university ever performed a different role than producing for capital, just that it has become more pronounced in recent years due to commercialisation through Coalition reforms.

In Italy the call for a social strike is coming from the social centres and base unions which have a strong academic presence. They have to a certain extent recognised their struggle as students as one firmly rooted in their communities and associated with the struggles of those fighting against the Jobs Act. Although not as successful as they could have been had they properly linked their struggle with other sections of the Italian working class, they show that it is possible for students to tap into and fuse with wider struggles in a way that goes beyond what is commonly seen as solidarity between causes.

The student movement in the UK has been traditionally tied to students’ unions, a connection which has framed struggles through a representative lens. Students have of course retained themselves as grassroots independent campaigns, but they’ve attempted to win unions positions and use the unions in both low and high ebbs of struggle. In general student unionism has been pursued because of the platform and resources it has accorded leftists. Self-organisation in relation to departments has mainly only occurred when departments have been under threat of course cuts or job losses.

However this type of organisation within departments would relocate the struggle of students as one more aligned with traditional labour union activity, building the self-determinant power of students with relation to their needs. This would mean workers/students focusing on their activity of reproduction as future workers and the creation of research within the university.

Proposals from members of Defend Education Birmingham have included holding self-organised reading groups to collectively tackle exam preparation and co-operatively go through course reading whilst building solidarity. The idea is that departmental groupings can be more than just drinking clubs linked to student unions and begin to develop students into self-organised and powerful groups.

 We should be attempting to put out material which frames the dimension of students as workers using the examples of Quebec and Italy to develop strategies based on the reality of British institutions. This would mean starting an in-depth discussion about how to proceed with broader diversification of the student movement beyond anti fees anti cuts, towards one for wages for the work students do. From there we might be able to begin the groundwork of developing a student strike, and only then can it be effectively linked in with wider struggles like that around COP21 and the transnational social strike. However, this fusing of movements and groups in a manner that goes beyond the alliance is crucial, and is something we should work towards – too long have single issue campaigns shirked the issue of building shared struggles.

UAL occupation: we won’t back down

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This press release is cross-posted from the UAL occupation – get in touch with them here.

Students enter third week of occupation as management offers rejected 

Phone: 07897922813, 07821731481

Students at University of the Arts London have been in occupation at Central Saint Martins, a UAL Campus since Thursday 19th March following the sudden announcement of plans to cut hundreds of foundation places and staff jobs across UAL.

Formal negotiations have been taking place with management, and quickly gaining pace. UAL offered a review of the cuts to Foundation, but would not commit to no redundancies. UAL also shut down many of its sites early today in fear of escalation of the occupation.

Following a mass meeting of the occupiers, Occupy UAL today voted to continue their occupation and to continue to demand an all-out end to cuts and redundancies.

An occupying student student said: “The occupation has so far been legitimised by UAL as they have reached out to negotiate with us. So far, their offer has not been sufficient, so we continue holding the space and demanding no cuts.”

Hannah Roberts, Education Officer at the Students’ Union said: “We continue to support the occupation and its aims. We hope UAL will deliver a review on these decisions regardless of ongoing action, and commit to actually listening to the voices of students”

On Wednesday 25th of March, a demonstration was organised in the form of a march from the London School of Economics (who are also in Occupation), past UAL’s High Holborn Office to the LCC in Elephant and Castle.

The march, attended by hundreds of students, was prevented from entering UAL campus when they found the main doors locked by security – contradicting against the proud history of art school student and staff political protests.

 

The occupation’s statement on facebook reads:

Following negotiations with management, Occupy UAL has decided to remain in occupation, and to re-iterate our central demand that there be no cuts to Foundation courses, nor redundancies for staff.

We received an offer late this morning with an attached condition that we end our two-week occupation. UAL offered to conduct a joint review of Foundation with the Students’ Union. In principle, we believe a review is needed. We also believe that this concession demonstrates management’s admission that students and staff have not been listened to throughout this process.

However, we did not feel confident that this offer sufficiently met our demands: a review does not guarantee no cuts. We conducted a vote and collectively decided to continue our action.

We would also like to address the closures of UAL campuses which have taken place today. We are extremely concerned by management’s decision to limit our access to vital resources without warning, and believe this is a cynical attempt to drive student support away from the occupation. These moves have undermined our trust in management’s good faith during negotiations.

We would like to state that Occupy UAL is always open to members of the student body and all are welcome to use this space for their studies, or to engage in discussion around our demands.

This occupation has so far proven to be a legitimate tactic in forcing concessions, is quickly gaining support, and we are determined to escalate. Hence why we are calling a London-wide demonstration on the 15th of April, in support of saving Foundation courses; details of which will be confirmed at a later date.

March on London Pride with Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners!

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LGSM @ London Pride 1985!

Free education
Homes for all
Migrant rights
Save + fund the NHS
End austerity!

Saturday 27 June 10:30am
Junction of Orchard St & Oxford St, London
Facebook event
Model motion

The LGBTQ caucus of NCAFC are excited to announce that we will be working with Lesbian & Gays Support the Miners for London Pride 2015! 30 years after their work supporting the Miners’ Strike, with the release of the film ‘Pride’, LGSM have re-formed and are organising again! LGSM are not simply part of a proud past, however: they come to London Pride this year to lead it and to re-politicise this largely corporate affair, showing by example that liberation and class struggle must go hand in hand. We are fighting for the future of our movement and this is a fantastic step!

Join the march!

The bloc is open to people of all sexualities and genders. Meet near the junction of Orchard St & Oxford St at 10:30am. Everyone needs to be there by 11am at the latest or you won’t be able to join the bloc! (LGSM will be at the front – exciting!).

Help LGSM to build the bloc! Invite all your friends to the facebook event. And we want to see as many student unions and campus LGBTQ groups getting involved as possible. Why not ask your union or LGBTQ group to officially support the bloc, and let us know about it? You could use this model motion. We need to estimate numbers so please contact [email protected] if you are bringing a group. We also want to march on Prides around the country – get in touch if you want to get involved!

What we’re fighting for

Right now, LGBTQ people, along with Women, Black and Disabled people, are being hit hardest by brutal cuts and privatisation, which are an attack by the rich and powerful on students and workers. There is enough wealth in our society to build a better, freer world for everyone, but it’s kept in the hands of the few. We can change that!

FREE EDUCATION

Abolishing tuition fees and getting a living grant for every student, from further education to postgrad, will help everyone access education – especially LGBTQ people, whose families may be unsupportive or who are forced to stay in the closet to keep their support.

HOMES FOR ALL

LGBTQ people, particularly LGBTQ youth, are disproportionately likely to be homeless, and we are all facing a housing crisis. We need controls to limit rents, better rights and security for tenants, and more council and social housing!

MIGRANT RIGHTS

The rich and powerful are using racism and xenophobia to play divide-and-rule. We oppose all immigration controls and racist discrimination. And bigoted courts and officials cannot be allowed to demand that LGBTQ asylum seekers “prove” their sexuality or gender identity.

END AUSTERITY AND SAVE + FUND THE NHS

Working-class people are being forced to pay for a crisis we didn’t create. Low wages, unemployment, and cuts to young people’s benefits leave us dependent on families who don’t always support our sexuality or gender. Healthcare for trans* people is in crisis, not just due to financial concerns but also due to a lack of understanding and training for medical professionals. Additionally, mental and sexual health services that LGBTQ people particularly rely on are being cut, and anti-trade union laws are an attack on our ability to organise and fight.

We need to fight back as a collective movement, demand radical change and stand in solidarity with all workers’ and liberation struggles. At Pride 2015 and beyond, let’s re-build our movement!

Sign this statement: we support a fighting NUS!

11037349_884196414956067_1039808284572757940_nSign this statement: email [email protected]

This year, a new generation of the student movement has emerged. The free education demonstration in November, which saw 10,000 students march on parliament, reflected and helped to kickstart a campaign for a transformation of our education system.

Across the country, students are occupying, demonstrating, lobbying and convincing – against the privatisation of education and for an education that is free,democratic and liberated.

At national conference this year, it is vital that NUS backs its members, develops a strategy, and plays its role in broadening the movement for free education. We need action, not just words!

That is why we are coming together to call on national conference to vote for:

1) Free Education is about more than fees: for living grants, institutional democratisation and liberation in education.
2) Build a fighting movement: call a national free education demonstration in autumn term to kickstart the fight.
3) Build a long-term movement: support a call for a broad cross-society alliance, with a public conference in October and regular local free education demos leading to bigger action in 2016. Use clear political demands like a reversal of cuts, taxation of the rich and public ownership of the banks to rebuild education and services.
4) Support our members in taking action: support students in occupation and workers in struggle in striking, in education and beyond, and call for cops off campus.
5) Fight racism and discrimination in education and beyond: confront the participation and BME attainment gaps, and decolonise Eurocentric curriculums. Fight for the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, against deportation and detention, and for freedom of movement. Fight the islamophobic Counter-terrorism bill.

 

Email [email protected] if you would like us to add your name

Hope Worsdale, NCAFC National Committee and member of Warwick For Free Education

Hattie Craig, NCAFC Committee,NUS VP HE Candidate.

Tanju Çakar, NCAFC National Committee and Free University of Sheffield member

Beth Redmond, NCAFC committee, NUS President and Block of 15 candidate

Roza Salih, NUS Scotland International Students Officer and Vice President Diversity and Advocacy at University of Strathclyde Students’ Association

Tania Sauma International Students’ Officer Universty of Manchester SU, NCAFC National Committee

Omar Raii, UCLU External Affairs and Campaigns Officer

Mostafa Rajaai, NUS International Students’ Officer Elect

Rachel O’Brien, Community Action Officer, University of Birmingham Guild of Students

Shelly Asquith, SUarts president and candidate for VP welfare

James Elliott, NUS NEC, NCAFC National Committee

Christy Mc Morrow, Sheffield Students’ Union President-Elect // The Free University of Sheffield // Co-Chair of Sheffield Labour Students // NUS delegate

Nat Panda, People and Planet, Warwick SU postgrad officer elect

Hannah Webb, NCAFC, UCL Defend Education and NUS Block of 15 Candidate

Abdi Aziz Suleiman, NUS NEC

Daniel Cooper, NUS NEC

Zakir Hussein Gul, NCAFC Committee

Raquel Palmeira, NCAFC LGBTQ rep, Workers’ Liberty students

Ben Towse, NUS Postgrad Ctte & NCAFC National Committee

Michael Segalov, Communications Officer at Sussex University and Block of 15 candidate

Sarah Dagha, NCAFC Black Students’ Rep

Mahamid Ahmed, LSE SU Postgraduate Students’ Officer and NUS NEC PgT place-elect

Zekarias Negussue, NUS NEC Black Rep

Luke Dukinfield, NCAFC NC

Shreya Paudel NUS international Students Officer

Elaha Walizadeh, NUS London Women’s Officer

Minesh Parekh, Sheffield Students’ Union Education Officer-Elect // The Free University of Sheffield // NCAFC NC

Mohammed Mumit NCAFC NC

Hannah Sketchley,  UCL Union Democracy and Communications Officer / NUS London Convenor / NCAFC NC

Natalia Renwick NCAFC Committee

Haaris Ahmed, Welfare Officer at City of Glasgow College, NEC Block of candidate

Malaka Mohammed, University of Sheffield Education Officer, NEC Block of 15 candidate

Deborah Hermanns, NCAFC Committee

Sai Englert, NUS NEC Postgrad Research Rep

Kirsty Haigh, vice president communities NUS Scotland and NUS NEC

Dan Goss, Warwick SU environment and ethics officer

Callum Cant  Warwick for free education , Ncafc NC and Block of 15 candidate

Helena Hinkle, NCAFC Committee

Fred Craig, NCAFC Committee

Rosie Carter-Rich, Uni of Sheffield NUS delegate and Sheffield Students’ Living Wage Campaign

Nathan Rogers NCAFC FE rep

Josh Berlyne, The Free University of Sheffield and NCAFC Northwest, Yorkshire and Humberside Rep

Annie Teriba, NCAFC NC and NUS delegate

Miguel Costa Matos, NCAFC and Warwick SU NUS delegate

Urte Macikenaite, EUSA Vice President Services 2015/2016

Why non-binary?

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This article was originally written by Helena Dunnet-Orridge for NCAFC Women’s bulletin at NUS Women’s conference 2015 (NUSWomensBulletin2015)

Recently the National Campaign Against the Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) decided to include non-binary identified people in their women’s caucus. This decision was not unprecedented, but rather part of a wider trend in the feminist movement to be more inclusive. As a reasonably prominent non-binary activist within the movement this question has been of interest to me for a long while. Many feminists contest this issue, or simply do not understand it. This is endlessly frustrating to me and yet quite clearly part of a wider issue within the feminist movement and feminist politics: the refusal to integrate and learn from queer theory in any meaningful way. Queer theory and gender theory are, in a theoretical sense, the newer version of feminist theory. Where feminist theory has historically lacked a true analysis of gender, queer theory has supplied and expanded upon it. Where many feminists have been astoundingly ignorant on queer, especially trans, issues queer theory has picked up the pieces. Many feminists are learning from this and progressing, but it is not fast enough, it is not happening enough. We owe that, of course, to neo-liberal discourse and a mainstream focus on liberal feminism. Yet, even Marxist-feminism trails behind in terms of its analysis of gender politics. I strongly feel an implicit dismissal and latent transphobia within feminism that is at odds with how the movement should, theoretically, function. Within feminism lies the central notion of gender, within queer theory lies the liberatory power of moving beyond marginalising views of sexuality and gender.

Then, why, you may well ask, am I interested in being involved in ‘women-only’ spaces? It is to challenge the idea of them; the static nature they seem to possess with regards to gender and its oppressive assignment by society. I understand the need for these spaces – to be away from privileged cis men, and I fully support that notion. But we need to challenge our ideas of maleness and how people are and are not privileged with greater assimilationist narratives. Including non-binary identified individuals is one step towards doing so, for we are allowing the ambiguity some space within feminism, within gender politics. The exclusion of trans women in particular from women-only spaces is based on a reductive and purely materialist, liberal narrative – the idea that one can only be included in oppression when one has always been party to it, the ignorance enough to suggest that being coercively assigned a certain gender at birth is the only predicate upon which we are oppressed and our gender experienced. We do not experience gender merely through a general recognition of our ‘natural’ gender, but along the lines of societally implemented roles which, often, one does not fit into. This is not yet an argument which has been won. Although it is popular to ‘accept’ trans women within women-only spaces, many seem hazy as to the reasons why. I know this because they question the inclusion of non-binary people in those same spaces – with a true understanding of gender categorisation this would become clear immediately. Being within an ambiguous, anti-normative definition of gender automatically throws reactionary hate and discrimination into the mix. Being oppressed by ones gender is not limited just to cis women, but to trans people in general. Our goal within feminism is to end oppression based on gender identity – the core of which is women’s liberation, but also trans liberation. They are not separate, but intimately linked struggles. The way in which we understand gender strongly affects the way in which we address oppression based on it. It is not enough to simply understand that trans women ‘are women’, as though this were a fixed tautology. Trans women cannot be understood to have an identical struggle to cis women, though they both suffer from the same oppressive patriarchal core of ideas and their enforcement within society. Why not, then, also invite trans men into our spaces? A fair number of trans-exclusionary feminists genuinely take this view, in the sense that, to their understanding, these people are not, in fact, ‘real’ men but women so oppressed that they adopt the characteristics of the oppressor. However, we must clearly recognise that trans men, although also oppressed along the lines of gender, do gain a level of privilege within their transition and inherently identify with masculine ideals. In the same way that cis men can reject these rigid masculinities, so too can trans men. However, there is a common assumption that because trans men have experienced the oppressive nature of being perceived as a woman previously they will automatically reject participation in it, post-transitional process. This is not the case. Attempting to be masculine within a patriarchal world very often takes its toll, and the pressure to conform to this patriarchal model of masculinity is increased tenfold for supposed ‘interlopers’ and men who are seen as in some ways ‘inauthentic’. Inclusion of trans men, then, is problematized due to their tendency to participate and ‘join in’ with the same oppressive behaviours of cis men. Their identity and participation within hetero-patriarchal structures is certainly far more complex than that of cis men, particularly when we take into account those who are ‘stealth’ or chose a minimal amount of formal transitional processes and therefore do not have the privilege of ‘passing’. Their participation in feminist spaces will always be in tension. Yet we see many self-selectively exclude themselves with the acknowledgement of their gender status, rightly or wrongly. It is, to many, insulting to be ‘devalued’ by being invited into ‘women-only’ spaces.

If we are to problematize the categories of gender then ‘women-only’ spaces become ambiguous and dubious at best. Who can we include and who can we exclude? Does anyone genuinely have that authority? Adding non-binary people to women’s spaces is a huge step towards genuine discussion of gender categorisation and the complexity of queer identities within them. By explicitly stating that a space is for ‘women and non-binary people’ rather than simply ‘women*’, as though inclusion were an after-thought, an addition, a negligible tack-on symbol, we are opening that narrative. Similarly by using the term ‘trans*’ we are ignoring the attempts of truscum (trans people who believe that only medical transition awards you the label of trans) to vouch for ‘true transgender identity’ by marginalising non-binary identities as a mere addition to trans rather than inherently a part of it. By generically stating ‘women and trans’ we also refuse to engage critically with the debate on transgendered masculinities, although I am much more open to this stance than I am to others.

Truly, all categories of self-definition ought to be problematized. Who is ‘queer’ and therefore allowed in queer spaces? Who is ‘of colour’? Who is white and who is not? Who is disabled, how are they disabled? We must always disturb these narratives, put them on trial, determine their usefulness. Are they serving us, or are we serving them? NCAFC are taking this step because my very presence pushed for it. We need to force other groups to have this conversation not out of convenience, but out of genuine desire to debate and politically decide upon their stance. I hope NCAFC can come to do this, too and I have high hopes for all of the activist’s engagement with the issue.

The women’s campaign we need

This post was written anonymously for NCAFC Women’s bulletin distributed at NUS Women’s Conference 2015 (NUSWomensBulletin2015)WANBODA

 

NUS is meant to be a place where people learn, experience, and develop their politics. It’s meant to be. But it’s not.

Over the past few years the political discussion and debate within the movement has been stifled and strangled. It is impossible to ask questions, explore topics or disagree without being labelled a racist, a transphobe, a white straight man. The truth of the matter is that in a society that is racist and transphobic it would be impossible for me not to be those things. I mess up. I do, but then I learn and change and my politics evolve. And that’s ok. It is.

Very few people wake up and are socialist or know the entirety of the communist manifesto. We often base our ideology on the people who have brought us up until we are able to form them ourselves. NUS is the place that is meant to allow us to form them, to have conversations that open our eyes, make us think differently, allow us to explore views and opinions in different ways not just fighting our way through heavy academic text.

I’m writing this blog anonymously because the women’s campaign scares me. It scares me to ask questions, to not have my opinions completely formed into a detailed analysis. It makes me feel stupid and attacked for not knowing or sharing the Women’s Officers opinion, it doesn’t allow me to explore why the campaign thinks the way it does, it doesn’t allow me to hold her to account. I can’t ask simple questions, I have to sweat nervously on the side-lines, not contributing, not drawing attention to myself, not following what’s going on. Because to be unaware, uneducated, undecided is to be wrong, to be looked down upon, to be hated. The women’s campaign is not a welcoming space; it is made for a very prescriptive view point or being friends with the leaders of it. It is that or face a barrage of abuse, the abuse that I thought was relegated to the playgrounds of my secondary school years. The snide comments, online attacks, and behind your back gossip.

I won’t speak up, I’ve seen what happens to those who dare to disagree, to think differently, I do not want to do that.

Debate, disagreement and discussion are not bad things, but until the women’s campaign acknowledges this, it’s not a place I want to be.