NCAFC Summer Conference 2016: Policy Passed
Section A – the education sector
Section B – internationalism
Section C – anti-fascism, anti-racism and no platform
Section D – the NUS
Section E- NCAFC’s structures and internal policies
Section A – the Higher Education White Paper
Motion 1: Much Ado About The White Paper
Submitted by: Free Education Manchester
1. The HE White Paper, released on 16th May, proposes far-reaching reforms of the HE sector, including: introducing variable tuition fees; making it easier for private providers to get degree-awarding powers; and a “Teaching Excellence Framework” based on metrics such as graduate employment data and data from the NSS.
2. Besides the White Paper we have seen other reforms in line with the marketisation agenda, including lifting the cap on student numbers and retrospective changes to loan repayments.
3. NCAFC has already kick-started a nationwide campaign to sabotage the NSS as one part of a strategy against the higher education reforms, with motions passed at NUS national conference, UCL, Goldsmiths, Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam.
4. The Labour Party have started a #ToryPriceTag campaign, protesting the rise in tuition fees proposed in the White Paper.
NCAFC Further Believes:
1. The higher education reforms are fundamentally an attack on the idea of public higher education, and are a significant shift towards the full marketisation and privatisation of the sector.
2. Though most of the publicity around the White Paper has been the proposed increase in fees, the most concerning aspect of the higher education reforms are the proposals to help private providers into the market, and the government’s willingness to allow public universities to collapse.
3. The reforms will have wide-ranging consequences, which may include the increased use of casual contracts; staff wages being driven down; more regulation of students’ unions; and more stress on academics forced to perform to yet more metrics.
4. As an organisation we need to be honest about our capacity; when we are being attacked on numerous fronts we have to choose what is our priority.
1. To work with the UCU, FACE and other relevant bodies to oppose the White Paper.
2. To work with the Labour Party, including relevant youth/student Labour groups, on broadening out their campaign to cover the White Paper as a whole.
3. NCAFC should aim to pull off a series of creative stunts and/or more spiky direct action between now and the NUS demo in Autumn in order to create excitement, awareness and press attention around the key issues. These could be done both independently or together with NUS, depending on the action.
4. To refer in public campaigning to the “Higher Education reforms” (or, where appropriate, any “Bill” being put to Parliament) rather than the “White Paper”, as this is less jargon-y.
5. NCAFC should consistently and clearly link the White Paper to the privatisation of the NHS and the academisation of schools.
6. NCAFC should do a Freshers’ week call-out to campus activists groups across the country for local action in opposition to the White Paper, which we should talk about and gain momentum for at Summer Training 2016. We should also push NUS to produce key materials on the White Paper to be mailed out to activists and SUs for use during this Autumn period.
Motion 2: Stop the Higher Education Reforms
Submitted by: Workers’ Liberty Students
1. The government’s May 2016 White Paper outlined its final draft of the HE reforms.
2. We won votes at NUS Conference committing NUS to fighting the reforms by organising protest and action including:
1. A demonstration the week of any Parliamentary discussion of the reforms
2. A major national demo in Autumn against a raft of attacks on education, in particular these reforms, cuts to grants, and cuts to FE.
3. A boycott or sabotage of the National Student Survey (NSS) and subsequent Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey.
1. We don’t need to extensively note again how terrible these reforms are.
2. We need to set out our strategy and principles for the campaign to stop/reverse them.
1. NSS boycott/sabotage:
1. We will need to put effort into building participation. We should take the opportunity to connect signing people up to the action, with introducing them to wider political ideas about education and getting them involved in political organisation in a sustained way.
2. We should counter the idea of student satisfaction and other supposed quality metrics informing top-down management, not with “better” metrics for “better” management, but with a positive vision of democratic direct control of learning and teaching by students and education workers.
2. National demonstrations:
1. Freed from our frequent resource-draining task of administratively organising a national demo, NCAFC can devote our energy to: building the demo, pushing the demonstration and its participants left by promoting radical ideas, and organising radical action before and after the demo.
3. The Labour Party:
1. We should press the Labour leadership to endorse our campaign actions, attend the national demo, and raise the profile of the issue at tactically appropriate times (e.g. in Parliamentary business).
2. We should work to make our policies – free, public, democratically-run education, accessible to all and funded by taxing the rich and taking the banks under democratic control – the policies of the Labour Party, by persistently arguing within Labour clubs, Labour Students, Momentum, ward and constituency branches, trade unions and other parts and affiliates of the party.
4. Local activity:
1. The National Committee should consider whether we can run a series of political meetings on this issue on campuses in the early Autumn Term
2. We should consider stunts, protests and direct actions at the offices of businesses that are looking to profit from privately-run higher education, such as Pearson.
Motion 3: NSS Sabotage
Submitted by: Warwick For Free Education
1. The plan to sabotage the NSS in order to wreck the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) has gained significant traction since it was first proposed by NCAFC. This includes policy passed at NUS National Conference, official support from FACE (Fighting Against Casualisation in Education), and numerous motions of support passing through Student Unions.
2. To make sure we don’t get tunnel vision about a particular tactic that we are using, or risk putting cart before horse, we should always think in terms of political priorities, which dictate strategies, which dictate tactics.
NCAFC Further Believes:
1. If executed well, this campaign has the genuine power to defeat the TEF and significantly damage the government’s HE reforms.
2. Whilst it is very positive that the NUS is now mandated to support and work on this sabotage, it is important that NCAFC continues to play a key role in driving the campaign and supporting grassroots activists in building for it.
3. In recent times, NCAFC organisers have tended to spread themselves too thinly across multiple big campaigns at once, resulting in projects either failing altogether or not being as effective as they could be, as well as also causing stress and strain for those activists involved.
4. As far as possible, we should press NUS to take up a leadership and coordinating role in the NSS sabotage and the other actions it is mandated to organise against the HE reforms. Ideally, NCAFC’s main roles in that struggle should be: to pressure the NUS leadership to implement the sabotage in the ways we believe will be most effective and to fully commit the necessary resources; to agitate within the struggle against the HE reforms for our more radical positive vision of education; to help build on the ground for grassroots participation in the NSS sabotage and other actions.
1. The NSS Sabotage should be the principal priority of NCAFC’s work in the coming year.
2. We should use a variety of methods and tactics to make the NSS sabotage happen. These could be done both in coordination with NUS and independently as NCAFC.
3. NCAFC should look at how to generate excitement around the NSS sabotage on campuses. This could include getting supportive bands/artists to play at campuses who get the highest proportion of their students to pledge to sabotage the NSS.
4. NCAFC should work with NUS and SU officers to ensure that the NSS sabotage is incredibly prominent at NUS summer training events.
5. NCAFC should run a speaker tour throughout Autumn to raise awareness of the NSS sabotage and support grassroots activists in building the campaign on campuses across the country. This speaker tour could also cover other key issues regarding attacks to education.
6. NCAFC should look to work with NUS officers to ensure the creation of a high-quality NSS sabotage “Pledge Website”, where people can sign up to register their commitment to sabotage but also to stay informed with the ongoing campaign. This website should be up and running by the Autumn term.
7. Mandate NCAFC’s NEC members to over the summer personally contact all sabbatical officer teams about the sabotage with the aim of ensuring they are all aware of the strategy, answering questions, encouraging them to pass a motion in support of the strategy and to offer any individual support and advice they may need.
8. Over the summer write and produce a series of short films to explain and promote the strategy.
Motion 4: Organising against the FE Area Reviews
Submitted by: Further Education caucus
1. The Government has made huge cuts to further education and sixth form colleges resulting in course and campus closures, mergers and job losses.
2. In 2010, the Coalition government abolished the Education Maintenance Allowance, which many FE students relied on.
3. In 2015 the Government withdraw all funding for ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) courses, which is having immediate impact on the thousands that relied on these essential courses.
4. The Government is conducting ‘Area Reviews’ of post-16 education and training in England.
5. Analysis suggests that up to 4 in 10 colleges could close if the further planned cuts go ahead.
6. Area Reviews are already taking place in 7 regions of England.
7. That the Area Reviews stated aim of “larger, more efficient, more resilient providers” of further education will lead to college mergers.
8. The recent regionalisation of colleges in Scotland and Wales.
9. That Sixth Form Colleges are at particular risk of closure or merger during area reviews.
1. Further and adult education is a vital though often undervalued public good, providing for a rich diversity of students with high numbers from disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds as well as for parents, careers, refugees and those changing career or returning to work.
2. Further and adult education is being brutally and systematically dismantled.
3. Further and adult education are disproportionately targeted in the government’s onslaught of attacks and cuts to education.
4. Further and adult education is in crisis and that the Area Reviews will only escalate the sectors destruction.
5. The Area Reviews will result in further cuts, courses closures and job losses through mergers and massively narrowed curriculums.
6. Area Reviews are focused on satisfying employers and not on education and students’ needs.
7. That large, specialist regionalised colleges and sixth forms will reduce opportunities and increase the cost of learning, further damaging access to education.
8. Colleges have already been regionalised in Scotland and Wales where there has been no evidence that mergers save money through the cuts to courses, teaching and provision have continued.
9. That in the same way maintenance grants are being turned into loans putting the million poorest students in the most debt, the Area Reviews are part of the Government’s attack on the poorest and most vulnerable students, and a part of a wider assault on education.
1. To oppose and actively campaign against the Area Reviews.
2. To support and encourage direct action against FE cuts and college closures.
3. In the autumn term NCAFC should organise a speaker tour on the attacks facing education and ensure there are as many events in Further Education colleges as possible. These should focus on what the Area Reviews are and how they threaten to dismantle FE and how to organise in FE and work alongside your local UCU branch.
4. NCAFC should work on and produce a range of online and printed materials that break down what the Area Reviews are, how they will dismantle FE and adult education and what this means in the wider context of attacks on education and access.
5. NCAFC should work to highlight the liberation perspective on the destruction of Further and adult education and link them to the cuts to the Open University and how together this is a key way access to education is being decimated resulting in many of the poorest and most vulnerable students, including migrants, the disabled, parents, careers and mature students being shut out.
6. NCAFC should actively encourage and support local activist groups get in touch with and form links with local FE institutions and their UCU branches to offer students support in setting up activist groups in FE.
7. NCAFC should work with FE student unions and education workers to discuss the possibly of a national action or protest in a key location for where an Area Review has or will be taking place.
Section B – internationalism
Motion 5: Solidarity with the Free West Papua cause
Submitted by: Warwick For Free Education
1. That West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea, the other half being Papua New Guinea.
2. That Indonesia has occupied West Papua since 1962/3.
3. That the occupation was internationally legitimized by an ‘Act of Free Choice’ in 1969, whereby just over 1,000 hand-picked Indonesian representatives were bribed, coerced and threatened into voting for integration into Indonesia. 
4. That international media and NGOs have been largely barred from entering the territory under Indonesian rule. 
5. That credible estimates put the number Papuans killed since 1962 at over 100,000. 
6. That several scholars have considered the term ‘genocide’ in relation Indonesia’s actions. 
7. That all the available evidence suggests indigenous Papuans overwhelmingly desire independence from Indonesia, and are ethnically, culturally and linguistically distinct from Indonesians.
8. That Indonesia often runs operations to harass and intimidate the overseas independence movement. 
9. That Papuan students have often led the campaign in the urban areas of West Papua to liberate their country, and have been met with brutal repression in turn. 
10. That the UK has long supported the Indonesian occupation militarily, diplomatically and economically, and formally supports Indonesian sovereignty in West Papua. 
NCAFC Further Believes:
1. The Indonesian occupation of West Papua is illegitimate and should end immediately.
2. We should express solidarity with legitimate self-determination struggles, and particularly with the students organizing to resist military occupation.
3. The Act of Free Choice was a farcical denial of self-determination, and a new, free and fair referendum on independence should take place in the territory. Such a referendum should include the eligibility of all indigenous Papuans.
4. The UK Government should cease all military training and arms transfers with Indonesia until a referendum on independence is held, and should cease supporting Indonesia’s claims over the territory.
1. To release a statement of solidarity with the free Papua cause, Papuan students and with the Free West Papua campaign based in Oxford.
2. To occasionally advertise to our members major demonstrations and actions carried out by groups working to free West Papua.
 Human Rights Watch (2015), Something to Hide? Indonesia’s Restrictions on Media Freedom and Rights Monitoring in Papua, Human Rights Watch: New York.
 Sloan, J. S. & Tapol, The Neglected Genocide: Human rights abuses against Papuans in the Central Highlands, 1977–1978, Asian Human Rights Commission: Hong Kong & International Coalition for Papua: Wuppertal; Anderson, K. (2015), ‘Colonialism and Cold Genocide: The Case of West Papua’, Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal, 9(2), pp. 9-25; Brundige, E. et al. (2004), Indonesian Human Rights Abuses in West Papua: Application of the Law of Genocide to the History of Indonesian Control, Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, Yale Law School: Yale; and King, P. & Wing, J. (2005), Genocide in West Papua? The role of the Indonesian state apparatus and a current needs assessment of the Papuan people, West Papua Project, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney.
 MacLeod, J. (2014), Merdeka and The Morning Star: Civil resistance in West Papua, UQP, p.136.
Section C – anti-racism, anti-fascism and no platform
Motion 6: Freedom of speech, open discussion and the right to organise on campuses
Submitted by: Bristol Reclaim Education
1. Free speech and the right to organise on campuses are currently under threat from many sides. We must fight to defend and extend them, and commit ourselves to the idea that open discussion is vital to the left, as an essential part of fighting oppression and building an effective student movement.
2. Problems we face:
1. The government wants universities and colleges to ban speakers who would be quite legal elsewhere. Even without prompting, administrations ban speakers and meetings they think might cause trouble or uproar.
2. Campus spaces are becoming increasingly commercialised. Administrations stop or discourage student postering, leafleting, and campaigning to prevent these activities disrupting their commercial space or the corporate image they wish to project.
3. Many student unions are run like businesses, with positions taken by people who want to boost their CVs. Their culture is politically opposed to student organising and debate. Many SUs go along with college rules or pressure, or avoiding argument and controversy. Organising societies, meetings, events and public activity is generally getting harder.
4. The ability for liberation groups to organise autonomously is legitimate and important for many reasons, and should be defended. However, censorship is sometimes promoted by student activists who see themselves as left-wing – whatever the intentions, almost always harmfully. Discouraging debate and controversy will not make campuses, let alone society, “safe”. In fact it will help shut down the very mechanisms the oppressed need to fight for their rights.
5. The Prevent agenda is targeting Muslim students, seeking to turn lecturers, education workers and other students into informers, fostering suspicion and racism.
6. Successive governments have turned students into consumers, and lecturers into producers of market-oriented teaching and research. The range of courses is being narrowed. Teaching which is politically and socially critical, including trade union studies, women’s studies, race and ethnicity-related studies, will be further discouraged. The Tories’ HE reforms will push forward these developments.
7. When campus workers’ or student organisations have taken militant action in defence of people’s rights they have been targeted for bureaucratic and in some cases police harassment.
3. We should be uncompromising in our opposition to oppression, bigotry and reactionary ideas. We need to defeat reactionary ideas, and win over and educate the people influenced by them. We face the task of beating widespread ideas and changing minds across society – this can only be done through argument, debate and political struggle. Bans, and denying ourselves platforms and access to audiences by refusing to debate people with these views, don’t work. And within the left, we need open discussion of political questions to ensure that our movements are democratic, and that we constantly challenge ourselves to re-examine, refine and improve the ideas that drive them.
4. It can be exhausting and distressing to go out into a hostile world and confront dominant, bigoted ideas. But that’s why we build a collective movement. No individual can or should be expected to fight every battle, but organised together with everyone contributing as much as they are able, as a collective we can meet those challenges.
5. The freedoms we champion have been most denied to the left, the oppressed and the exploited. To defend and extend them, however, we need to demand they are applied consistently, including to people we don’t like. And rejection of these principles by parts of the left has allowed student right wingers, most of whom have little genuine interest in democratic rights, to demagogically exploit them for their own purposes.
6. We should commit to a physical self-defence tactic of no platform – physically denying any platform or airtime – against fascists. We don’t think that fascist ideas cross some arbitrary line of being too distressing or offensive to be heard. Fascist groups are an organised movement of physical violence in the streets, fighting to terrorise, crush, and murder oppressed groups, the workers’ movement and the left. Anti-fascists are forced to respond by doing whatever we can to disrupt and deny them space to operate. We may apply similar tactics to other physically violent groups and individuals which confront us.
7. The slogan “cops off campus!” around which the NCAFC has campaigned in recent years is an essential component of the demand for free speech on campus. In many countries, the police cannot enter campuses without special permission. This has made campuses beacons of free thought and political expression in those countries. We should aspire towards the same.
8. Taking inspiration from the long history of student struggles for freedom of speech and organisation – like the Berkeley Free Speech Movement of the 1960s in California, or the Latin American movements for “university reform” which succeeded in banning the police from campuses – we will fight for freedom of speech, debate, organisation and action on campuses in order to facilitate a flowering of student and workers’ organisation and struggle.
Motion 7: NCAFC & No-Platforming
Submitted by: Warwick For Free Education
1. As an organisation we seek to challenge existing authorities and the existing dominant ideas, and convince people of new ones. We want the student movement to do this too.
2. Reactionary, bigoted views in general are commonly held in society. The way to change people’s minds is through political argument and protest, not through bans and no platforming.
3. The tactic of no platforming should, however, still apply to fascists. This is specifically because their ideology and form of organising advocates the destruction of minority groups and political opponents through the use of organised physical violence. Fascists have declared physical war on people, so we can’t give them any space to operate.
4. There is a lot of confusion and disagreement in the student movement at the moment regarding what no platforming is.
5. We should have zero trust in the state to restrain fascism, and we must recognise that state bans on the right to organise and protest are easily turned from the far right to hit the left too. For instance, in the past, bans on protests in particular areas, supposedly put in place to prevent fascist demonstrations, have been used to block left-wing protests.
6. No-platform should therefore be advocated as a tactic for the left and workers’ and student movements to fight fascists from the grassroots up, but not as a call for the state to step in and ban fascist demonstrations for us from the top down (though in very particular contexts, on a case-by-case basis, we might choose not to oppose specific restrictions)
NCAFC Further Believes:
1. That whilst there are competing definitions of fascism, it should be broadly understood as an ideology and political movement which advocates an authoritarian, nationalistic, right-wing system of government and social organisation with the forcible suppression of political opposition and the stripping away of rights, especially for minority groups, sometimes to the extent of mass genocide.
2. In its current iteration in the UK, as practised by groups such as the English Defence League, Britain First, the British National Party and National Action, groups such as Muslims, Jews, people of colour, migrants, members of the LGBTQ community, women, disabled people, socialists, anarchists, communists, trade unionists and anti-fascists are potential targets of fascist hatred and violence. The targeting of these groups by fascists is often aided by the social acceptability of discrimination against them, such anti-migrant and Islamophobic narratives advocated in the mainstream press and in parliamentary politics.
1. We shall define no platforming as a tactic of refusing, as a general blanket rule, to permit someone any platform to organise, promote their ideas, or act on them, e.g. an SU cancelling a society event, overthrowing a street stall. No-platforming also includes refusing, as a general blanket rule, to ever have representatives of your organisation or movement share a platform with a specified group or person. Actions such as deciding a particular speaker would not be appropriate for a particular event, or protesting an event, should generally not be considered no platforming, although the reasons behind these actions may sometimes stem from similar political ideas as those who advocate a wider use of no platforming tactics. In these cases, we should aim to challenge these ideas and change people’s minds.
2. As an organisation, we should look to only use the tactic of no platforming against organisations and individuals who we consider to be fascist, and should argue for this stance to be adopted by the rest of the student movement.
3. Despite generally supporting no platforming only for fascists, we also acknowledge that there may be specific situations where the physical well-being of a certain group is threatened by organisations/figures which are not traditionally deemed to be fascist, e.g events held by rape apologist Roosh V who advocates and encourages sexual violence towards women. In these cases, decisions around no-platforming must be taken with great care and with full consideration of the opinions of those groups threatened by such an organisation/figure.
4. In the fight against bad no platforming politics we should be careful to not align ourselves with right-wingers or even left-wingers with whom we have serious disagreements.
5. We should aim to submit policy along the lines of this motion as NCAFC to different NUS conferences.
6. We should engage in an educational process within the student movement about no platforming. We should remember that so many of these debates are incredibly personal for a lot of people, and thus we shouldn’t jump to condemn people who have differing views with us but rather aim to have inclusive and comradely discussions over a long period of time.
7. This motion does not aim to end the debate around this issue and we should aim to continuously work on these definitions and our approach to no platforming, and change things where appropriate.
8. The fact that an organisation or person is not no-platformed does not mean individual activists are always obliged to accept every invitation to share a platform with them – personal decisions about what events to attend etc are separate from collectively held, organisational political policies like no-platform.
Motion 8: Fighting Fascism
Submitted by: Free Education MCR
1. Fascism is rising across the UK and Europe. The presence of fascists poses a significant threat to the livelihood of oppressed people and should be opposed in a large manner of ways, such as through direct-action and the use of no-platforming.
2. Current fascist groups across Europe are primarily Islamophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-migrant in nature, this can be seen by the consistent attacks on refugee communities, the overwhelming anti-Islam rhetoric and actions, and cases such as the destruction of headstones in Jewish cemeteries.
3. There has been a rising number of cases of fascist activity and racist attacks specifically on campuses, e.g. National Action at the University of Warwick and attacks on veiled Muslim women at King’s College London.
NCAFC Further Believes:
1. The NUS ARAF campaign, in its existence as an annual paid conference, is not fulfilling its potential in the fight against racism and fascism.
2. It is vital that NCAFC and the wider student movement can confront fascism in all its forms, in which we are organised and are able to mobilise quickly for demonstrations as well as encourage and support continuous anti-fascist campaigns, be they independent or within wider organisations such as the NUS.
1. To mobilise, where possible, for anti-fascist demonstrations and actions.
2. To show solidarity with students facing repression/abuse on their campuses due to their religious background, race, gender, sexuality, disability or country of origin.
3. To seek to improve the NUS ARAF campaign by lobbying to for it to be developed into a year-round, democratic campaign.
Motion 9: Understanding and fighting anti-Semitism
Submitted by: Workers’ Liberty Students
1. We note recent controversy in the student movement, as well as in the Labour Party, about the left and anti-Semitism – focused on attitudes to Israel-Palestine and Zionism.
2. Anti-Semitism exists on the left, as it does in the rest of society and across the political spectrum.
3. We need to take the fight against anti-Semitism, as against all forms of racism and bigotry, seriously.
4. We do not believe the question can be dealt with simply by drawing a distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Criticising Zionism is not necessarily anti-Semitic, of course, but some anti-Zionist politics is. Supporters of the Palestinians like ourselves must keep this in mind.
1. Forms of anticapitalism that focus disproportionately on the roles, power and collaboration of Jewish or “Zionist” (when used as a substitute for Jewish) capitalists are anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
2. There is, and always has been, a broad diversity of opinion amongst Jews and Jewish communities about Israel and Zionism and ascribing a set of opinions to them as a homogenous group is anti-Semitic.
3. While some people use anti-Zionism as a smokescreen for anti-Semitism, support for the Palestinian liberation struggle, and opposition to Zionism as a political project are coherent with an anti-racist, anti-colonial politics.
5. We certainly have differences and disagreements in our ranks about issues about how Zionism and anti-Zionism are related to anti-Semitism. We will encourage a discussion among our supporters and throughout the student movement to draw out these differences, educate ourselves and facilitate productive debate.
6. Anti-Semitism on the left is generally not based in personalised hostility to Jews; it is, rather rooted in a set of political ideas. The way to wipe out anti-Semitism from our movement is through political discussion, rather than disciplinary measures.
7. We oppose the cynical use of these issues by some on e.g. the Labour right as a factional weapon against the left, and to undermine the Corbyn leadership. We believe that in the student movement as elsewhere anti-Semitism must be addressed politically, through discussion and education. That requires an atmosphere of free speech and debate, where those raising concerns of anti-Semitism are taken seriously; where criticisms of Israel are not automatically shouted down as anti-Semitic; and where the discussion is not manipulated for factional purposes.
Section D: The NUS
Motion 10: NCAFC work in NUS
Submitted by: Surrey Labour Students
NCAFC Needs To:
1. Fight to demolish the influence of the old right wing and their attempts to drag NUS and the student movement backward, including by promoting or winking at SU disaffiliations.
2. Put the new, overall broadly soft-left leadership to the test in struggle, e.g. on fighting the HE reforms and college cuts, mobilising to support workers’ struggles, spreading rent strikes, and on democratising the NUS structures.
3. Not be afraid to be critical of left NUS officers, even while defending them from attacks from the right.
4. Build support for NCAFC as an independent caucus in NUS of those who want to be part of a critical-minded, democratic, radical and class struggle-oriented left.
5. Hold our members on NUS NEC and other committees to account.
6. Aim in the long-term to fundamentally transform NUS and student unions into bottom-up, participatory democratic bodies equipped to organise collective action in defence of students’ interests. Our sights for the NUS must be set higher than replacing more right-wing officers with more left-wing ones, passing some left-wing motions, endorsing some protests and rejigging a few committees and structures at the top of the organisation.
1. That our vision for NUS has to include strong principles of democracy
2. That we have passed such principles beforehand, including at the last Summer conference, and submitted policy in their spirit to the NUS
3. That there is currently a lot of buzz around the concept of OMOV [One member, one vote]
NCAFC Further Believes:
1. That OMOV would in fact be a bad thing for the NUS and its democracy
2. That OMOV is commonly understand in NUS to actually mean ‘One Student One Vote’
3. That this disbenefits small students’ unions, particularly ones in FE or ones which are underdeveloped
4. That this would cost the NUS a vast amount of money
5. That we are not, in principle, opposed to the NUS spending vast amounts of money, but we want them to spend it on more sensible and politically-agreeable things
6. That OMOV used only for national elections would weaken the legitimacy of National Conference as a policy-making body and pave the way for it to be sidelined
7. That OMOV would favour those with the money, time and energy to roll around the country profiling themselves
8. That OMOV would mean that candidates had to do the above, and thus lock out a lot of people who did not have the time, energy or money to do so
9. That any accountability or interaction with the NUS that its proponents claim OMOV gives can actually be done better if unions sort out their delegate elections properly
1. The NC should develop a charter of demands to put on NUS which we can build support around, both campaigning demands and changes to NUS structures.
2. Our members on NUS NEC should consult the NC and where possible more widely about what proposals they submit to the NEC and about issues coming up, with as much notice as possible given in advance. (And members of other NUS committees do likewise with appropriate NCAFC groups.) Drawing up motions that we want to go to NUS NEC is a job that should be carried out by our NC.
3. To ask all our NEC members to write regular reports and update, including reports of every NEC meeting.
4. The NC should appoint a convenor or convenors for our group on the NEC, responsible for keeping all our supporters on the NEC in touch with each other.
5. The NCAFC should avoid operating on the basis of favours between reps and hacks moving in NUS circles, of any electoral opportunism, or of tactically suppressing our political ideas and criticisms for the sake of winning favour with other “players” and factions.
6. If OMOV, or any variant thereof, or indeed any other proposal which sees to weaken National Conference as a sovereign democratic event be proposed in seriousness, to organise against it.
Motion 11: NUS Candidates & Elections
Submitted by: Warwick For Free Education
1. NCAFC has run candidates in NUS elections for several years, and there has consistently been differing opinions around how exactly that should happen.
2. In December 2014, policy was passed at our winter conference that resolved “to put forward policies and election candidates in NUS on the basis of uncompromising, clear principles”.
NCAFC Further Believes:
1. We are not the only left wingers operating within NUS, and we should be aiming to make alliances with others where possible.
2. As an organisation we don’t have one rigid political line on a lot of topics, but where we do have consensus and where certain issues are integral to what we do, we should absolutely not compromise our principles.
3. Running a candidate for a full-time position in NUS can be more work than initially anticipated, and for NUS elections we should pragmatically assess our abilities as an organisation concerning how many candidates we can run. This is especially important because it is crucial that our candidates feel they are fully supported by the organisation, and that their campaign is run by NCAFC and not by them individually.
4. Sometimes, there might be elections where we don’t fully agree with any of the candidates running. This by itself is not reason enough to run a NCAFC candidate.
5. Whilst we should definitely not overestimate the importance of NUS conferences and elections, we should not be viewing them as isolated events but rather as part of our wider strategy. This is especially important regarding how we interact with the rest of the NUS left.
6. Even if individual NCAFC members have personal differences or disputes with other left-wingers, we should always aim to work with NUS officers wherever it is politically useful. Having said that, regardless of the track record of NUS officers, we should not be deterred from criticising their work where necessary and pushing them to do certain things.
7. Our NUS policy and election interventions should be led by the core principles of NCAFC which are integral to our work and on which we have consensus. However, we should not confine our NUS strategy exclusively to this without considering other significant factors, and we should not neglect to consider how we an an organisation relate to the rest of the left in NUS.
1. When planning NUS strategy in future years, we should plan it along the beliefs set out above.
2. NCAFC representatives should aim to meet up with NUS FTOs regularly to discuss issues facing the student movement. These meetings should explore where we can work together but also highlight key disagreements/criticisms where necessary.
Section E: NCAFC structures and internal policies
Motion 12: NCAFC National Committee & Accountability
Submitted by: Free Education MCR
1. Currently, there is no formal process for scrutinising NC members. NC members tend to be scrutinised in ways which are not constructive, e.g. passive aggressive comments online.
2. It is understandable if newer members of the NC need a period of time to understand the organisation. However, it should be clear that NC members should not be elected only to never engage with or participate in anything.
3. Right now there is an awkwardness because we are volunteers and therefore it can be difficult to feel able to hold people to account.
4. There may exist instances when certain NC members are not able to engage with NCAFC due to health or other personal reasons. At the moment, there isn’t a good enough way for this to be communicated.
5. As a result of the above, often a large proportion of NCAFC’s work lies with just a few NC members.
NCAFC Further Believes:
1. In NCAFC we should have a comradely and friendly culture in which people feel able to call each other and ask if they can help with tasks, and for people to offer help where it is needed and when possible.
2. We should have a culture where it is normal for NC members to get contacted by fellow NC members if they have not been active for a while.
3. As an organisation we have a duty to everyone in it to make sure that they don’t burn out or have health problems as a result of their involvement in NCAFC.
4. We are much healthier as an organisation if tasks and responsibilities are shared by lots of members as opposed to a few.
5. It is useful for as many NCAFC members as possible to be involved in tasks, and where possible organising should not be restricted to just NC members.
1. We should establish a more clear process through which NC members or working group members can make it known that they are unable to be involved with NCAFC for a certain amount of time, without having to specify their reasons.
2. If someone has taken up responsibility for a task and for some reason are unable to fulfill this, they should aim to ideally find someone else to take on the task, or at least let the NC know.
3. NC members should be obliged to write 4 accountability reports throughout the year; one at each conference and one in between each. The secretariat should be responsible for collecting these reports and posting them on the open loomio for all members to read. These reports can be very short (they could even simply specify that someone is unable to be involved with NCAFC at the time of writing for a certain period), but if none are submitted by an NC member, the secretariat should get in contact with the person to find out what is going on, or alternatively delegate that task to someone else.
4. NC meetings should be advertised well in advance to the whole membership so that NCAFC members can be encourage to attend. Furthermore, whenever the NC establishes a working group around something that does not require privacy, it should ask all members if they would like to join said working group at least once.
5. That advertising to the membership should not just be on Facebook, but also Loomio or other platforms used by members of the NCAFC to communicate internally.
Motion 13: Changing our Safer Spaces structure
Submitted by: Warwick For Free Education
1. The current Safer Spaces policy was voted on at NCAFC Winter Conference 2014.
2. There are many problems with this policy.
3. The Safer Spaces Committee as it is exists does not function effectively.
4. The discussions about sexual violence taking place within the Women and Non-binary caucus and that will now start being discussed within NCAFC as a whole are very important and should be seen as a priority.
NCAFC Further Believes:
1. There are still many discussions that need to be had within the organisation about issues such as sexual violence and how we should deal with it, and we should seek to dedicate time to specifically discuss this.
2. The current policy aims to do too many things at once, and it is also too prescriptive.
3. It is necessary that we understand our capacity and limits as an organisation, and also which issues fall within or beyond our remit as NCAFC.
4. This motion is still quite vague because the authors believe that it is necessary for more discussion to take place before decisions can be made. However it is necessary to put a few interim measures into place now.
1. To work towards two different documents:
1. a political document that lays out the kind of environment / safer space we want to build within the organisation and the political principles that should underlie it and
2. a complaints procedure which ensure that any kind of complaints that have to be dealt with can be dealt with.
3. A working group should be formed whose only task shall be to hold consultations and arrange discussions within NCAFC on these documents. This should include online discussions as well as physical discussions. The working group should bring one or several proposals to be voted on to NCAFC winter conference which are to replace the current Safer Spaces Policy.
3. The working group should be put together at NCAFC summer conference 2016 and afterwards there should be a brief chance for members to join the working group via the loomio. One NC member should be chosen immediately after conference to have the task to coordinate the working group and ensure that it does its tasks.
4. The working group should present their proposals in a discussion session on the first day of winter conference so that NCAFC members can discuss it and ask any questions they have ahead of the motions debate the following day.
5. Between now and Winter Conference, the following should happen. It should be clear that this is only interim and that this situation will be changed by winter conference:
1. The first part of the Safer Spaces policy* shall remain in place, but the sections
1. “Accountability Processes”
2. “Language/assumptions/biases complaints” and
3. “Physical/Sexual harassment, assault and violation of boundaries”
shall be deleted. This also means that the Safer Spaces working group should cease to exist.
2. The National Committee shall be responsible for complaints. Several members shall volunteer to form a contact group. Their names, phone numbers and one collective email address would then be made specifically visible on the website. If someone wanted to make a complaint confidentially they could get in contact with someone from this contact group. Their only role would then be to provide immediate support to the complainant and to discuss and arrange the best way this can be brought to the committee. The contact group shall not undertake its own investigations and has no decision making power. Complainants may also choose to contact any other individual NC member if they don’t want to contact the contact group.
3. If a complaint is of sensitive nature and should be dealt with by as few people as possible, then a small group within the NC should be selected to deal with it. However decision about whether someone should be banned from events or other such decisions would have to be made by the NC.
4. There should be people who are pointed out at the beginning of NCAFC summer training and other events who are points of contacts for complaints. These can be the contact group or others if they are not available.
*The Safer Spaces Policy in effect at the start of Summer Conference will be included in the documents distributed at the start of Conference, and is online at http://anticuts.com/safer-spaces/