Motions & Amendments for Conference January 2017

Graphic reading "NCAFC Winter Conference 2017 // University of Warwick // 14th-15th January"

In the run up to our 2017 Winter conference 14-15 January in Warwick, affiliated groups have submitted the following motions, and members have submitted the following amendments, about what NCAFC should be campaigning on and how the National Campaign should be run.

For more info on motions, amendments and how our conference democracy works, check out this guide.

If you haven’t registered for conference yet, make sure you do (fill out the registration form) and book your transport today! You can find more info about what to expect via the Facebook event and the guide/agenda.


Political motions:

Organisational motions:

Appendix


Political motions

No to the “good vs. bad migrants” rhetoric!

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC notes:

  1. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has recently announced plans to restrict international students visas.
  2. These plans include linking universities’ ability to accept international students to “teaching quality,” most likely measured byTEF scores.
  3. In recent years, the government has already scrapped the post-study work visa, introduced NHS charges for non-EU students and deported tens of thousands of international students.
  4. Often the response to attacks on international students is to insist that they are not migrants and should be treated differently. This is the approach taken not only by Vice-Chancellors but also by sections of the student movement.
  5. The arguments often rely on how much international students contribute to the British economy by “funding our universities” (justifying sky-high fees) or by emphasising the differences between students and migrant workers instead of challenging prejudice against both.

NCAFC believes:

  1. That freedom of movement is a right and we need to resist any attempts to distinguish between “good” and “bad” migrants.
  2. That the left needs to defend all migrants on principle, not on the basis of how much they contribute to the economy.
  3. That attacks on international students and other migrant groups are based on the same racist and xenophobic ideology, and can only be defeated through active solidarity, not creating further divisions.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To campaign for freedom of movement and the right to a free, accessible education for everyone, regardless of nationality.
  2. To fight against any further attacks on international students, including through direct action if necessary.
  3. To challenge the “students are not migrants” approach within the student movement and more broadly on the left.

Amendment

Submitted by Connor Woodman

  1. Delete believes 3: “That the left needs to defend all migrants on principle, not on the basis of how much they contribute to the economy” and replace with: “3. That the left needs to defend all migrants on principle, as well as on the basis of how much they contribute to the economy.”

 

Hold the line: defend free movement

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC notes:

  1. The recent slide into anti-immigration, anti-free- movement politics by even some people on the left of the Labour Party.

NCAFC believes:

  1. We have to continue to defend free movement without shame, compromise or capitulation.
  2. It is a lie that free movement is against the interests of working class people. First, because migrant workers are part of the working class too – our politics of fighting for workers’ rights does not respect the borders imposed by our rulers. Second, because the often-repeated claim that immigration substantially depresses pay and conditions is not actually supported by the evidence.
  3. Restricting immigration will therefore not help either UK-born or migrant working-class people. Instead, this politics serve to divide workers, damaging our ability to organise and fight against the common enemy that is actually responsible for low wages, shortages of housing and jobs, and overstretched public services – the rich and powerful, and the parties and politicians who serve their class interests.
  4. The left needs to politically combat anti-migrant ideas, and advocate real solutions in their place, not concede the debate to right-wing lies.
  5. The result of the EU referendum does not oblige us to stop working to change minds and change policies.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To continue fighting to defend and extend free movement, and to place the blame for the problems facing working class people where it belongs – not on migrants, but the rich and powerful, the ruling class.
  2. To fight uncompromisingly against capitulation by the left on this issue, especially by parts of the Labour left, Labour Students left, and the trade union movement.
  3. To argue and campaign for a programme of immediate real solutions to the problems facing working class people, including: uniting migrant and British-born workers in trade unions to fight for improved pay and conditions for all; reversing the anti-union laws; raising and enforcing the minimum wage; decent housing accessible to all; secure, decently-paid jobs, training and education for everyone; serious taxes on the rich and their businesses in order to redistribute wealth and reverse cuts, fund decent public services and rebuild the NHS.

Amendments

Submitted by Michael Muir: 

  1. Delete the word “defend” from Resolves.
  2. Delete Resolves 2: “To fight uncompromisingly against capitulation by the left on this issue, especially by parts of the Labour left, Labour Students left, and the trade union movement.”

 

The campaign to #stoptheHEreforms

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC notes

  1. The higher education reforms are still progressing through Parliament, with changes so far securing only very minor improvements (e.g. the addition of token student representation at the proposed Office for Students).
  2. We successfully passed proposals through NUS conference 2016 to organise a national demonstration in November, and to boycott the NSS unless and until the reforms are withdrawn, starting now in 2017.

NCAFC believes

  1. Fighting the reforms should remain a priority campaign for NCAFC.
  2. We have secured real improvements in NUS’s approach, compared to previous campaigns. However, it has still been lacking.
  3. We must be honest that the national demonstration was not the success it should have been. There were “managerial” failures by the NUS leadership and student unions, but fundamentally the problem was political:
    1. The leadership made the demo about everything in general, instead of foregrounding the clear and specific demands, which could inspire and explain, that we set out in policy (on the HE reforms as well as grants and FE cuts). We need to continue arguing that actions must be linked to uncompromising and straightforwardly understandable demands and slogans.
    2. The leadership organised the demonstration as a march in London. But for activists, the day of a demo is only the tip of an iceberg. The process of organising a demo should be used to build local groups, educate, argue, organise and persuade in many local areas. Local issues and demands should be linked to the programme of the demo. The march itself should be followed by a vigorous and well-planned campaign of subsequent action.
  4. The NSS boycott has value as an industrial-style tactic: complementing purely protest action by materially disrupting the running of the education system to gain leverage for concessions. To win, we may have to maintain the boycott beyond this year.
  5. As well as contending with right-wingers who have attempted to undermine and disrupt the action, we need to address a number of failings by the NUS leadership:
    1. They have bypassed democratic policy to set a different negotiating position – not to drop the reforms, but just to break the link between TEF scores and fee levels. We need a clear, straightforward political message and negotiating position, not a technocratic and watered-down one.
    2. At times, they have been timid and apologetic about the action.
    3. They have not built the boycott with as much vigour as they could, and don’t seem to have accepted the scale of the operation needed, beyond working with sabbs, to speak directly to students nationally and equip campus activists with resources.
    4. Sabbatical officers have been treated as gatekeepers to their unions’ members, and as if they have the right to determine whether and how NUS may implement decisions already made. Local officers should be called on to support the strategy’s implementation as a basic point of collective union solidarity, and NUS should promote the action to all students, not limit outreach to only the campuses where officers endorse the action.
  6. There is already a right-wing backlash against the actions organised so far. We should not be bounced into uncritically defending the current leadership. We need to defend the value of protest and direct action on the basis of our own understanding of how it can best be carried out, and keep constructively criticising, arguing and contesting in NUS to improve the organisation of the campaign.

NCAFC resolves

  1. To keep the fight to stop the HE reforms as a major priority for the coming period. If they pass into law, the campaign will call for their reversal.
  2. To support this, we call for further protest and direct action, and we will be clear about our political criticisms of the NUS leadership, and our alternative proposals, in order to press for change.
  3. Politically, we maintain the campaign needs to foreground clear, specific slogans and demands, while adding context with a wider political response: a publicly-owned education system, run democratically for social good.

Amendments

Submitted by Connor Woodman:

  1. Add Notes: “3. That the House of Lords voted against the Higher Education and Research bill in January 2017″

 

Developing a vision for a National Education Service

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC notes

  1. Jeremy Corbyn has floated the proposal of a cradle-to- grave, free National Education Service. He has specifically raised: reversing adult education cuts to build lifelong learning by raising corporation tax; universal free childcare; abolishing tuition fees; equalising the minimum wage for apprentices and providing good apprenticeships.

NCAFC believes

  1. These proposals are good but much of what an NES would mean is still unspecified. That means we have a big opportunity to influence its development through political debate and agitation.
  2. NCAFCers have devoted a lot of thought to what our vision of a revolutionised education system might look like. A policy like this, potentially to be taken up by the Labour Party, is a concrete vehicle through which that vision could be thrust into high-profile public debate and hopefully translated into reality.
  3. Transforming the education system cannot be successfully imposed from above –there has to be some grassroots ownership of the programme, and mobilisation from below to support, and hold to account, its implementation.
  4. This weekend includes a lot of discussion of the NES, so this motion should not pre-empt that with a finished policy. However, based on NCAFC’s existing principles and previous discussions, we can say that an NES should:
    1. Be universally accessible free of charge, with financial support through living grants/stipends for all.
    2. Replace the chaos of market competition between institutions with an integrated service that is rationally and democratically organised to serve social good, rather the interests of the capitalist class.
    3. Build on existing ideas about the “Comprehensive University” to break down arbitrary barriers within the curriculum and between streams of education, including between further and higher education, and “vocational” and “academic” study.
    4. Be publicly owned and secular, and democratically governed by its students, workers and the communities it serves.
    5. Through democratic control of the curriculum, allow us to overturn the sometimes overwhelming dominance of ruling ideologies in what is taught, opening space for radical, subversive, liberatory and marginalised ideas and perspectives.
    6. Provide its workers with secure, decently-paid jobs and good conditions.
    7. Include universal free childcare.
    8. Be well resourced, by taxing the rich and their businesses and expropriating the banks.

NCAFC resolves

  1. Based on these points, this conference’s workshops, and previous and ongoing discussions, the NC will lead development of a set of proposals setting out our vision for an NES.
  2. To discuss with organised education workers in particular, as we develop these proposals.
  3. To agitate and campaign for the adoption of these proposals, particularly in the student and trade union movements and by Labour.

Amendment

Submitted by Michael Muir:

  1. Delete the word “secular” from Believes 4 (d)

 

The battle in the Labour Party

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC believes:

  1. NCAFC is, and should remain, independent from political parties and open to activists who are members of different parties and of none.
  2. Nevertheless, we have previously voted to recognise involvement in the Labour Party as one useful course of action left-wing education activists can take, due to the pivotal role that its student wing has played in NUS, its powerful position in UK politics, and its links to the organised workers’ movement. We have voted to offer support to Labour leftists campaigning to re-orient Labour and Labour Students towards free education, encouraged activists to get involved, and supported Jeremy Corbyn’s successful bid to lead the party.
  3. Now the situation in Labour – a battle to win the party for socialism – is an historic opportunity to advance the left, including the causes and ideas for which NCAFC stands.

NCAFC further believes:

  1. There is worthwhile work to be done – in terms of both local activism and advancing left-wing politics – in campus Labour Clubs and local Labour parties. NCAFC should support and encourage this work.
  2. To be successful in the Labour Party, as elsewhere, the left needs genuinely grassroots-democratic organising, through which we can debate and develop our ideas, policies and proposals for the party, and campaign to change minds and shift the wider party. This is similar to the basis on which NCAFC has organised in the student union movement. The establishment of Momentum is welcome. It has the potential to be that organisation, and so the present debates about its form, purpose and politics are crucial.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To remain a united front of education activists from different organisations and none.
  2. To encourage and support the struggle in the Labour Party as one useful avenue, and therefore to offer support and encouragement to student activists getting involved, particularly in campus Labour Clubs.
  3. As some of us get involved in Labour, the Labour left and Momentum, to bring with not only our politics around education specifically, but also NCAFC’s broader ideas and attitudes on the importance of participatory democracy, open debate and political clarity, for developing and advancing left-wing politics.

Amendments

Submitted by Michael Muir:

  1. Add Believes: “3. NCAFC is not, cannot be and should not be a Labour Party or Momentum faction. To do so would be to interfere with its core function as a broad, grassroots activist organisation.”
  2. Add Believes: “4. Momentum Youth and Students is a broad, democratic and open faction for young people and students on the Labour Left.”
  3. Delete: Resolves: “1. To remain a united front of education activists from different organisations and none.” and replace with “1. To encourage and support activists as they fight for a policy of a free, liberated and decolonised education within the Labour Party’s youth and student structures.”
  4. Delete Resolves: “3. As some of us get involved in Labour, the Labour left and Momentum, to bring with not only our politics around education specifically, but also NCAFC’s broader ideas and attitudes on the importance of participatory democracy, open debate and political clarity, for developing and advancing left-wing politics.” And replace with: ‘”3. To encourage NCAFC members to involve themselves in Momentum Youth and Students as the only broad left faction in Young Labour capable of establishing meaningful political and organisational change.”

 

Organisational motions

Submitting motions (Constitutional amendment)

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC believes:

  1. Currently, only groups affiliated to NCAFC can submit motions to NCAFC Conferences.
  2. The nature of student activism has changed. Whereas in the past NCAFC membership mostly consisted of activists in local anti-cuts groups, there are now fewer active groups, and many NCAFC members come from campuses where there isn’t one.
  3. While we should still encourage building local groups, we need to acknowledge the changes in the student movement and make sure all NCAFC members have the ability to propose policy.
  4. Summer Conference is equally important as Winter Conference, and should have the power to amend the constitution.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To amend the constitution as follows:

Delete 4.A.4.2 and replace with

Motions can be proposed by: local anti-cuts groups and other groups affiliated to NCAFC, the National Committee, or a group of at least seven NCAFC members.

Delete 4.A.7.1 and replace with

To debate motions and constitutional amendments

Amendments

Submitted by Ed Maltby:

  1. Add believes: “5. In many cases where there is no separate NCAFC-affiliated activist/anti-cuts group, NCAFC supporters will be active in other leftwing groupings such as Labour Clubs.”
  2. Add believes: “6. We should adapt our training and written guidance to activists to this situation: educational material from NCAFC should not presume the existence of anti-cuts groups on the 2011 model: NCAFC should support the creation of radical student organisations at the campus level that fit the current situation.”

 

Abolishing the Secretariat (Constitutional amendment)

Submitted by the National Committee

NCAFC notes:

  1. The Secretariat is currently appointed by the National Committee (NC). It has the task of overseeing democratic procedure at NCAFC events, including conference and in practice, at times, meetings of the National Committee.
  2. A proposal to make the Secretariat elected was rejected at the last winter conference.
  3. It has often been difficult to find appropriate and willing candidates for the post.
  4. At various times during the post’s existence it has been unfilled, or its occupant(s) have been unable to perform the role, and the National Committee has had to perform these roles itself. This has not been a problem. NC members have been assigned to make arrangements for meetings, and have formed working groups to oversee the running of conferences.
  5. Despite the good work of members of the Secretariat over the time the post has existed, this is arguably preferable as NC members, being elected, are more democratically accountable.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To amend the constitution to abolish the Secretariat, and transfer oversight of its responsibilities to the NC.
    1. Amend 4.A.3.1. – “The NC and the Secretariat has ultimate responsibility for setting the agenda of conferences and other events, and ensuring their smooth and democratic running
    2. Amend 4.A.4.1. – “A motions and proposals deadline must be set by the Secretariat the NC, or its delegated conference working group, ahead of conference”
    3. Amend 4.B. – NCAFC has two one standing committees: the National Committee (NC) and the Secretariat
    4. Delete all of 4.B.3. and 4.B.4.

 

A New Behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure

Submitted by the National Committee

NCAFC notes:

  1. Our Summer Conference 2016 instructed the National Committee to propose a replacement for our existing Safer Spaces Policy.

NCAFC resolves

  1. To adopt the Behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure contained in the appendix to this motions document.

Amendment

Submitted by Andrew Warren

  1. Delete point 3 of the Complaints Procedure: “If the complaint is deemed serious enough, a group of NC members should be convened to investigate the complaint. Factors such as the diversity of the group and members’ relationships to the accused/complainant (unless submitted anonymously) should be considered to ensure as representative and fair a group as possible.” And replace with: “If the complaint is deemed serious enough, a standing committee appointed by the NC will investigate the complaint. When appointing the standing committee, factors such as the diversity of the group and members’ relationships to the accused/complainant (unless submitted anonymously) should be considered to ensure as representative and fair a group as possible. The NC will also appoint reserves, to take over if a committee member is unavailable or unsuitable due to their relationship to the accused.”

 

NCAFC & direct action

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC notes:

  1. That since the inception of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, the belief that grassroots direct action is an integral part of achieving political and social change has been a core principle of the organisation.
  2. That this vocal belief has set NCAFC apart from many other groups and organisations on the student left.
  3. That over the last couple of years, levels of grassroots activity happening on campuses has decreased somewhat.
  4. That, nonetheless, NCAFC continues to be contacted by activists asking for support and advice when it comes to planning and carrying out direct action.

NCAFC believes:

  1. That direct action will never not be relevant, useful and important in the fight for free, democratic and accessible education.
  2. That recent successes such as the occupation at Warwick have shown that commitment to direct action still exists in the movement and that it can be very effective.
  3. That in the fight against this government’s plans to marketise higher education, direct action on both local and national levels is essential, and thus we need activists and SU officers across the country to be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to plan and carry out direct action.
  4. That as well as practical knowledge, it’s important that activists have access to strong political and historical arguments as to why direct action is powerful and necessary.
  5. That NUS has started to do more work in this area, but that a lot is still lacking.
  6. That it’s important that within the active membership, and especially the National Committee, of NCAFC, we have a significant number of activists with first-hand experience and knowledge when it comes to direct action, who can be called upon to share that expertise with fellow members and/or with activist groups if requested.
  7. That whilst it’s important to recognise the ways in which the student movement is shifting and changing, and to adapt our political strategies accordingly, we must ensure that we do not lose all connection with direct action and that it remains a core aspect of our broad strategy in pushing for change.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. That as part of the updated version of the NCAFC website, there will be a “direct action hub” which will contain: key political arguments on why direct action is effective and necessary, a brief history of direct action in the student movement, links to useful practical resources on direct action, as well as a clear indication that activists are welcome to get in touch with us if they want any help/support/advice relating to direct action (including the offer for NCAFC to facilitate/co-facilitate direct action workshops on campuses).
  2. That we will continue to argue within NUS for a national union which not only coordinates direct action on a national level, but also actively supports grassroots direct action happening on campuses.
  3. That there should always be at least one workshop on direct action at our annual summer training event, incorporating both political and practical knowledge.
  4. That, where politically useful and appropriate, NCAFC will actively seek to collaborate with other grassroots organisations to coordinate direct action around educational issues.

 

Integrating newly-elected NC members into the National Committee

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC notes that:

  1. Often new NC members are expected to pick up their tasks and roles with little guidance, and can feel isolated unless they are already close to experienced NC members.
  2. Often a small number of NC members take on most of the work of maintaining the organisation, and that often some new NC members are never fully integrated into the NC.

NCAFC believes that:

  1. There is an expectation that all NC members should, barring situations where personal circumstances are having an impact on capacity and ability to organise, make an effort to engage in collective discussions, decision making and regular tasks. All NC members should be active in one permanent working group.
  2. Sometimes NC members have to take time off from organising and step back from active involvement.
  3. Sometimes NC members don’t feel supported or knowledgeable enough to fulfil their role adequately.

NCAFC resolves to:

  1. Implement an initial training brief for all new NC members. This will constitute a face-to-face or Skype session introducing the new NC member to decision making processes, communication platforms, working groups, expected tasks for NC members, NCAFC events and so on.
  2. Implement a ‘buddy system’ for new NC members. This will involve assigning each new NC member to a current NC member who will act as a point of contact for the new member for the first 2-3 months in the position. The older NC member will answer questions, check in with the new NC member, encourage them to take up tasks and help them complete them.

Amendment

Submitted by Ben Towse

  1. Delete the following sentence from Believes 1: “All NC members should be active in one permanent working group.”

Appendix

NCAFC Behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure

Proposed in motion “A new behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure”

NCAFC is committed to fighting for an education system that is public, democratic, open and accessible to all, and oriented towards free enquiry, the needs and interests of society, and liberation from existing hierarchies and oppressions. We seek to dismantle, rather than perpetuate, existing oppressions and hierarchies within our communities and campaigns. We are a democratic political organisation, so discussion, debate and democratic processes are how we work through our disagreements and collective decisions.

If we are to achieve these aims, we must expect certain standards of behaviour of ourselves and those involved in our organisation, both at our events and in wider society.

We must not:

  1. discriminate against anyone on the basis of ethnicity, sex, gender, religion, age, sexuality, language, disability, asylum status or any other structurally oppressive criteria
  2. perpetrate verbal, physical or sexual abuse, bullying or violence

In addition, we expect ourselves and each other, as members and participants at our events, to:

  1. behave in a comradely and co-operative way towards one another
  2. avoid causing those around us unnecessary offence or anxiety
  3. respect the facilitatory methods of the Chair and only challenge them through the appropriate structures
  4. listen to others when they are speaking, not interrupt and wait for our turn to speak
  5. treat one another with respect, debating political ideas where we disagree without resorting to personal attacks or disrespectful language
  6. respect the aims and democratic processes of NCAFC and behave with honesty and integrity

We all have a responsibility to each other and NCAFC to uphold these standards of behaviour and challenge others around us if they fail to meet these standards. If you feel that anyone’s behaviour is not meeting these standards, in general, the first recourse should be to speak to this person privately and informally about their behaviour, or ask another member or NC member to do so. However, in cases where someone’s behaviour fails to meet these standards in a serious way, especially with regards to points 1. and 2., or repeatedly fails to meet these standards, a formal complaint may be submitted.

Complaints Procedure

  1. To make a formal complaint about a member or attendee at an event, the complainant should write to the National Committee, or if they prefer an NC member (or members) of their choice, who can discuss the complaint with the rest of the NC while preserving the complainant’s anonymity.
  2. Upon receiving the complaint, the NC will decide whether or not to investigate the complaint. All complaints should be treated seriously and assumed to be submitted in good faith unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary. If the complaint is against a NC member, they are not to take part in any discussions or decisions relating to the complaint and the rest of the NC may also decide to suspend them from the NC pending the outcome of the complaint.
  3. If the complaint is deemed serious enough, a group of NC members should be convened to investigate the complaint. Factors such as the diversity of the group and members’ relationships to the accused/complainant (unless submitted anonymously) should be considered to ensure as representative and fair a group as possible.
  4. The group will ask for any statement from the complainant in addition to their complaint. The accused will be informed of the details of the complaint made against them, with the complainant’s wishes regarding anonymity respected, and will also be asked for a statement. The group may also ask questions of the complainant and accused, and any other people as it deems necessary. The group should proceed with sensitivity and unintrusiveness if asking questions of a complainant whose complaint is on the basis of abuse or violence.
  5. While the procedure is ongoing, the NC may take the decision to suspend the member or ban them from attending events, including asking them to leave an event if a complaint is made during an event, pending the outcome of the investigation.
  6. When the group has considered the statements of the complainant and accused and any other information they have gathered, they will decide whether the accused’s behaviour:
    1. is a threat to the functioning of the organisation
    2. runs contrary to the aims of the organisation
    3. discriminates against members of oppressed groups
    4. poses a danger or harm to members of the organisation
  7. If the accused’s behaviour meets any of these criteria, the group will suggest a course of action the NC should take, which could include but is not limited to: giving the perpetrator a warning about their behaviour, banning the perpetrator from events and/or expelling them from the organisation.
  8. The NC will have the final decision as to the course of action to take, according to any conditions or procedures set out in the constitution, with the delegated group’s recommendations considered.
  9. The process up to this point should take no more than either 30 days from the original complaint or 5 days after the soonest NC meeting after the complaint was made, whichever is longer.The NC members are to treat all statements received and answers to questions as confidential and are not to talk about the details of the investigation to anyone outside the NC.
  10. If the complainant and/or accused disagrees with the decision, they can appeal the decision by writing to the NC within 30 days of the outcome. The NC can decide to uphold the decision, review the course of action or reopen the investigation, convening a different delegated group but following the same procedures as listed above. No further appeals can be made after this point.
  11. If the accused is expelled, they may apply for membership again in the future and the NC will make the decision to accept or reject their membership at the time their application is received.
  12. In cases where the complaint is related to verbal, physical or sexual abuse, bullying or violence, NC members will work with the complainant, if the complainant so wishes, to ensure that they have a support group around them and access to relevant services.

Amendment

An amendment has been submitted to this proposed policy: see above.

Return to motion “A new behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure”

Motions for Conference January 2017

Graphic reading "NCAFC Winter Conference 2017 // University of Warwick // 14th-15th January"

UPDATE: The deadline for amendments has now passed. You can see the full document with motions and amendments here.

In the run up to our 2017 Winter conference 14-15 January in Warwick, affiliated groups have submitted the following motions about what NCAFC should be campaigning on and how the National Campaign should be run.

All members of NCAFC can submit amendments to these motions – just email them to againstfeesan[email protected] by 23:30 Wednesday 11 January. For more info on motions, amendments and how our conference democracy works, check out this guide.

If you haven’t registered for conference yet, make sure you do (fill out the registration form) and book your transport today! You can find more info about what to expect via the Facebook event and the guide/agenda.


Political motions:

Organisational motions:

Appendix


Political motions

No to the “good vs. bad migrants” rhetoric!

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC notes:

  1. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has recently announced plans to restrict international students visas.
  2. These plans include linking universities’ ability to accept international students to “teaching quality,” most likely measured byTEF scores.
  3. In recent years, the government has already scrapped the post-study work visa, introduced NHS charges for non-EU students and deported tens of thousands of international students.
  4. Often the response to attacks on international students is to insist that they are not migrants and should be treated differently. This is the approach taken not only by Vice-Chancellors but also by sections of the student movement.
  5. The arguments often rely on how much international students contribute to the British economy by “funding our universities” (justifying sky-high fees) or by emphasising the differences between students and migrant workers instead of challenging prejudice against both.

NCAFC believes:

  1. That freedom of movement is a right and we need to resist any attempts to distinguish between “good” and “bad” migrants.
  2. That the left needs to defend all migrants on principle, not on the basis of how much they contribute to the economy.
  3. That attacks on international students and other migrant groups are based on the same racist and xenophobic ideology, and can only be defeated through active solidarity, not creating further divisions.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To campaign for freedom of movement and the right to a free, accessible education for everyone, regardless of nationality.
  2. To fight against any further attacks on international students, including through direct action if necessary.
  3. To challenge the “students are not migrants” approach within the student movement and more broadly on the left.

Hold the line: defend free movement

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC notes:

  1. The recent slide into anti-immigration, anti-free- movement politics by even some people on the left of the Labour Party.

NCAFC believes:

  1. We have to continue to defend free movement without shame, compromise or capitulation.
  2. It is a lie that free movement is against the interests of working class people. First, because migrant workers are part of the working class too – our politics of fighting for workers’ rights does not respect the borders imposed by our rulers. Second, because the often-repeated claim that immigration substantially depresses pay and conditions is not actually supported by the evidence.
  3. Restricting immigration will therefore not help either UK-born or migrant working-class people. Instead, this politics serve to divide workers, damaging our ability to organise and fight against the common enemy that is actually responsible for low wages, shortages of housing and jobs, and overstretched public services – the rich and powerful, and the parties and politicians who serve their class interests.
  4. The left needs to politically combat anti-migrant ideas, and advocate real solutions in their place, not concede the debate to right-wing lies.
  5. The result of the EU referendum does not oblige us to stop working to change minds and change policies.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To continue fighting to defend and extend free movement, and to place the blame for the problems facing working class people where it belongs – not on migrants, but the rich and powerful, the ruling class.
  2. To fight uncompromisingly against capitulation by the left on this issue, especially by parts of the Labour left, Labour Students left, and the trade union movement.
  3. To argue and campaign for a programme of immediate real solutions to the problems facing working class people, including: uniting migrant and British-born workers in trade unions to fight for improved pay and conditions for all; reversing the anti-union laws; raising and enforcing the minimum wage; decent housing accessible to all; secure, decently-paid jobs, training and education for everyone; serious taxes on the rich and their businesses in order to redistribute wealth and reverse cuts, fund decent public services and rebuild the NHS.

The campaign to #stoptheHEreforms

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC notes

  1. The higher education reforms are still progressing through Parliament, with changes so far securing only very minor improvements (e.g. the addition of token student representation at the proposed Office for Students).
  2. We successfully passed proposals through NUS conference 2016 to organise a national demonstration in November, and to boycott the NSS unless and until the reforms are withdrawn, starting now in 2017.

NCAFC believes

  1. Fighting the reforms should remain a priority campaign for NCAFC.
  2. We have secured real improvements in NUS’s approach, compared to previous campaigns. However, it has still been lacking.
  3. We must be honest that the national demonstration was not the success it should have been. There were “managerial” failures by the NUS leadership and student unions, but fundamentally the problem was political:
    1. The leadership made the demo about everything in general, instead of foregrounding the clear and specific demands, which could inspire and explain, that we set out in policy (on the HE reforms as well as grants and FE cuts). We need to continue arguing that actions must be linked to uncompromising and straightforwardly understandable demands and slogans.
    2. The leadership organised the demonstration as a march in London. But for activists, the day of a demo is only the tip of an iceberg. The process of organising a demo should be used to build local groups, educate, argue, organise and persuade in many local areas. Local issues and demands should be linked to the programme of the demo. The march itself should be followed by a vigorous and well-planned campaign of subsequent action.
  4. The NSS boycott has value as an industrial-style tactic: complementing purely protest action by materially disrupting the running of the education system to gain leverage for concessions. To win, we may have to maintain the boycott beyond this year.
  5. As well as contending with right-wingers who have attempted to undermine and disrupt the action, we need to address a number of failings by the NUS leadership:
    1. They have bypassed democratic policy to set a different negotiating position – not to drop the reforms, but just to break the link between TEF scores and fee levels. We need a clear, straightforward political message and negotiating position, not a technocratic and watered-down one.
    2. At times, they have been timid and apologetic about the action.
    3. They have not built the boycott with as much vigour as they could, and don’t seem to have accepted the scale of the operation needed, beyond working with sabbs, to speak directly to students nationally and equip campus activists with resources.
    4. Sabbatical officers have been treated as gatekeepers to their unions’ members, and as if they have the right to determine whether and how NUS may implement decisions already made. Local officers should be called on to support the strategy’s implementation as a basic point of collective union solidarity, and NUS should promote the action to all students, not limit outreach to only the campuses where officers endorse the action.
  6. There is already a right-wing backlash against the actions organised so far. We should not be bounced into uncritically defending the current leadership. We need to defend the value of protest and direct action on the basis of our own understanding of how it can best be carried out, and keep constructively criticising, arguing and contesting in NUS to improve the organisation of the campaign.

NCAFC resolves

  1. To keep the fight to stop the HE reforms as a major priority for the coming period. If they pass into law, the campaign will call for their reversal.
  2. To support this, we call for further protest and direct action, and we will be clear about our political criticisms of the NUS leadership, and our alternative proposals, in order to press for change.
  3. Politically, we maintain the campaign needs to foreground clear, specific slogans and demands, while adding context with a wider political response: a publicly-owned education system, run democratically for social good.

Developing a vision for a National Education Service

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC notes

  1. Jeremy Corbyn has floated the proposal of a cradle-to- grave, free National Education Service. He has specifically raised: reversing adult education cuts to build lifelong learning by raising corporation tax; universal free childcare; abolishing tuition fees; equalising the minimum wage for apprentices and providing good apprenticeships.

NCAFC believes

  1. These proposals are good but much of what an NES would mean is still unspecified. That means we have a big opportunity to influence its development through political debate and agitation.
  2. NCAFCers have devoted a lot of thought to what our vision of a revolutionised education system might look like. A policy like this, potentially to be taken up by the Labour Party, is a concrete vehicle through which that vision could be thrust into high-profile public debate and hopefully translated into reality.
  3. Transforming the education system cannot be successfully imposed from above –there has to be some grassroots ownership of the programme, and mobilisation from below to support, and hold to account, its implementation.
  4. This weekend includes a lot of discussion of the NES, so this motion should not pre-empt that with a finished policy. However, based on NCAFC’s existing principles and previous discussions, we can say that an NES should:
    1. Be universally accessible free of charge, with financial support through living grants/stipends for all.
    2. Replace the chaos of market competition between institutions with an integrated service that is rationally and democratically organised to serve social good, rather the interests of the capitalist class.
    3. Build on existing ideas about the “Comprehensive University” to break down arbitrary barriers within the curriculum and between streams of education, including between further and higher education, and “vocational” and “academic” study.
    4. Be publicly owned and secular, and democratically governed by its students, workers and the communities it serves.
    5. Through democratic control of the curriculum, allow us to overturn the sometimes overwhelming dominance of ruling ideologies in what is taught, opening space for radical, subversive, liberatory and marginalised ideas and perspectives.
    6. Provide its workers with secure, decently-paid jobs and good conditions.
    7. Include universal free childcare.
    8. Be well resourced, by taxing the rich and their businesses and expropriating the banks.

NCAFC resolves

  1. Based on these points, this conference’s workshops, and previous and ongoing discussions, the NC will lead development of a set of proposals setting out our vision for an NES.
  2. To discuss with organised education workers in particular, as we develop these proposals.
  3. To agitate and campaign for the adoption of these proposals, particularly in the student and trade union movements and by Labour.

The battle in the Labour Party

Submitted by Workers Liberty

NCAFC believes:

  1. NCAFC is, and should remain, independent from political parties and open to activists who are members of different parties and of none.
  2. Nevertheless, we have previously voted to recognise involvement in the Labour Party as one useful course of action left-wing education activists can take, due to the pivotal role that its student wing has played in NUS, its powerful position in UK politics, and its links to the organised workers’ movement. We have voted to offer support to Labour leftists campaigning to re-orient Labour and Labour Students towards free education, encouraged activists to get involved, and supported Jeremy Corbyn’s successful bid to lead the party.
  3. Now the situation in Labour – a battle to win the party for socialism – is an historic opportunity to advance the left, including the causes and ideas for which NCAFC stands.

NCAFC further believes:

  1. There is worthwhile work to be done – in terms of both local activism and advancing left-wing politics – in campus Labour Clubs and local Labour parties. NCAFC should support and encourage this work.
  2. To be successful in the Labour Party, as elsewhere, the left needs genuinely grassroots-democratic organising, through which we can debate and develop our ideas, policies and proposals for the party, and campaign to change minds and shift the wider party. This is similar to the basis on which NCAFC has organised in the student union movement. The establishment of Momentum is welcome. It has the potential to be that organisation, and so the present debates about its form, purpose and politics are crucial.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To remain a united front of education activists from different organisations and none.
  2. To encourage and support the struggle in the Labour Party as one useful avenue, and therefore to offer support and encouragement to student activists getting involved, particularly in campus Labour Clubs.
  3. As some of us get involved in Labour, the Labour left and Momentum, to bring with not only our politics around education specifically, but also NCAFC’s broader ideas and attitudes on the importance of participatory democracy, open debate and political clarity, for developing and advancing left-wing politics.

Organisational motions

Submitting motions (Constitutional amendment)

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC believes:

  1. Currently, only groups affiliated to NCAFC can submit motions to NCAFC Conferences.
  2. The nature of student activism has changed. Whereas in the past NCAFC membership mostly consisted of activists in local anti-cuts groups, there are now fewer active groups, and many NCAFC members come from campuses where there isn’t one.
  3. While we should still encourage building local groups, we need to acknowledge the changes in the student movement and make sure all NCAFC members have the ability to propose policy.
  4. Summer Conference is equally important as Winter Conference, and should have the power to amend the constitution.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To amend the constitution as follows:

Delete 4.A.4.2 and replace with

Motions can be proposed by: local anti-cuts groups and other groups affiliated to NCAFC, the National Committee, or a group of at least seven NCAFC members.

Delete 4.A.7.1 and replace with

To debate motions and constitutional amendments

Abolishing the Secretariat (Constitutional amendment)

Submitted by the National Committee

NCAFC notes:

  1. The Secretariat is currently appointed by the National Committee (NC). It has the task of overseeing democratic procedure at NCAFC events, including conference and in practice, at times, meetings of the National Committee.
  2. A proposal to make the Secretariat elected was rejected at the last winter conference.
  3. It has often been difficult to find appropriate and willing candidates for the post.
  4. At various times during the post’s existence it has been unfilled, or its occupant(s) have been unable to perform the role, and the National Committee has had to perform these roles itself. This has not been a problem. NC members have been assigned to make arrangements for meetings, and have formed working groups to oversee the running of conferences.
  5. Despite the good work of members of the Secretariat over the time the post has existed, this is arguably preferable as NC members, being elected, are more democratically accountable.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To amend the constitution to abolish the Secretariat, and transfer oversight of its responsibilities to the NC.
    1. Amend 4.A.3.1. – “The NC and the Secretariat has ultimate responsibility for setting the agenda of conferences and other events, and ensuring their smooth and democratic running
    2. Amend 4.A.4.1. – “A motions and proposals deadline must be set by the Secretariat the NC, or its delegated conference working group, ahead of conference”
    3. Amend 4.B. – NCAFC has two one standing committees: the National Committee (NC) and the Secretariat
    4. Delete all of 4.B.3. and 4.B.4.

A New Behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure

Submitted by the National Committee

NCAFC notes:

  1. Our Summer Conference 2016 instructed the National Committee to propose a replacement for our existing Safer Spaces Policy.

NCAFC resolves

  1. To adopt the Behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure contained in the appendix to this motions document.

NCAFC & direct action

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC notes:

  1. That since the inception of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, the belief that grassroots direct action is an integral part of achieving political and social change has been a core principle of the organisation.
  2. That this vocal belief has set NCAFC apart from many other groups and organisations on the student left.
  3. That over the last couple of years, levels of grassroots activity happening on campuses has decreased somewhat.
  4. That, nonetheless, NCAFC continues to be contacted by activists asking for support and advice when it comes to planning and carrying out direct action.

NCAFC believes:

  1. That direct action will never not be relevant, useful and important in the fight for free, democratic and accessible education.
  2. That recent successes such as the occupation at Warwick have shown that commitment to direct action still exists in the movement and that it can be very effective.
  3. That in the fight against this government’s plans to marketise higher education, direct action on both local and national levels is essential, and thus we need activists and SU officers across the country to be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to plan and carry out direct action.
  4. That as well as practical knowledge, it’s important that activists have access to strong political and historical arguments as to why direct action is powerful and necessary.
  5. That NUS has started to do more work in this area, but that a lot is still lacking.
  6. That it’s important that within the active membership, and especially the National Committee, of NCAFC, we have a significant number of activists with first-hand experience and knowledge when it comes to direct action, who can be called upon to share that expertise with fellow members and/or with activist groups if requested.
  7. That whilst it’s important to recognise the ways in which the student movement is shifting and changing, and to adapt our political strategies accordingly, we must ensure that we do not lose all connection with direct action and that it remains a core aspect of our broad strategy in pushing for change.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. That as part of the updated version of the NCAFC website, there will be a “direct action hub” which will contain: key political arguments on why direct action is effective and necessary, a brief history of direct action in the student movement, links to useful practical resources on direct action, as well as a clear indication that activists are welcome to get in touch with us if they want any help/support/advice relating to direct action (including the offer for NCAFC to facilitate/co-facilitate direct action workshops on campuses).
  2. That we will continue to argue within NUS for a national union which not only coordinates direct action on a national level, but also actively supports grassroots direct action happening on campuses.
  3. That there should always be at least one workshop on direct action at our annual summer training event, incorporating both political and practical knowledge.
  4. That, where politically useful and appropriate, NCAFC will actively seek to collaborate with other grassroots organisations to coordinate direct action around educational issues.

Integrating newly-elected NC members into the National Committee

Submitted by Warwick for Free Education

NCAFC notes that:

  1. Often new NC members are expected to pick up their tasks and roles with little guidance, and can feel isolated unless they are already close to experienced NC members.
  2. Often a small number of NC members take on most of the work of maintaining the organisation, and that often some new NC members are never fully integrated into the NC.

NCAFC believes that:

  1. There is an expectation that all NC members should, barring situations where personal circumstances are having an impact on capacity and ability to organise, make an effort to engage in collective discussions, decision making and regular tasks. All NC members should be active in one permanent working group.
  2. Sometimes NC members have to take time off from organising and step back from active involvement.
  3. Sometimes NC members don’t feel supported or knowledgeable enough to fulfil their role adequately.

NCAFC resolves to:

  1. Implement an initial training brief for all new NC members. This will constitute a face-to-face or Skype session introducing the new NC member to decision making processes, communication platforms, working groups, expected tasks for NC members, NCAFC events and so on.
  2. Implement a ‘buddy system’ for new NC members. This will involve assigning each new NC member to a current NC member who will act as a point of contact for the new member for the first 2-3 months in the position. The older NC member will answer questions, check in with the new NC member, encourage them to take up tasks and help them complete them.

Appendix

NCAFC Behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure

Proposed in motion “A new behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure”

NCAFC is committed to fighting for an education system that is public, democratic, open and accessible to all, and oriented towards free enquiry, the needs and interests of society, and liberation from existing hierarchies and oppressions. We seek to dismantle, rather than perpetuate, existing oppressions and hierarchies within our communities and campaigns. We are a democratic political organisation, so discussion, debate and democratic processes are how we work through our disagreements and collective decisions.

If we are to achieve these aims, we must expect certain standards of behaviour of ourselves and those involved in our organisation, both at our events and in wider society.

We must not:

  1. discriminate against anyone on the basis of ethnicity, sex, gender, religion, age, sexuality, language, disability, asylum status or any other structurally oppressive criteria
  2. perpetrate verbal, physical or sexual abuse, bullying or violence

In addition, we expect ourselves and each other, as members and participants at our events, to:

  1. behave in a comradely and co-operative way towards one another
  2. avoid causing those around us unnecessary offence or anxiety
  3. respect the facilitatory methods of the Chair and only challenge them through the appropriate structures
  4. listen to others when they are speaking, not interrupt and wait for our turn to speak
  5. treat one another with respect, debating political ideas where we disagree without resorting to personal attacks or disrespectful language
  6. respect the aims and democratic processes of NCAFC and behave with honesty and integrity

We all have a responsibility to each other and NCAFC to uphold these standards of behaviour and challenge others around us if they fail to meet these standards. If you feel that anyone’s behaviour is not meeting these standards, in general, the first recourse should be to speak to this person privately and informally about their behaviour, or ask another member or NC member to do so. However, in cases where someone’s behaviour fails to meet these standards in a serious way, especially with regards to points 1. and 2., or repeatedly fails to meet these standards, a formal complaint may be submitted.

Complaints Procedure

  1. To make a formal complaint about a member or attendee at an event, the complainant should write to the National Committee, or if they prefer an NC member (or members) of their choice, who can discuss the complaint with the rest of the NC while preserving the complainant’s anonymity.
  2. Upon receiving the complaint, the NC will decide whether or not to investigate the complaint. All complaints should be treated seriously and assumed to be submitted in good faith unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary. If the complaint is against a NC member, they are not to take part in any discussions or decisions relating to the complaint and the rest of the NC may also decide to suspend them from the NC pending the outcome of the complaint.
  3. If the complaint is deemed serious enough, a group of NC members should be convened to investigate the complaint. Factors such as the diversity of the group and members’ relationships to the accused/complainant (unless submitted anonymously) should be considered to ensure as representative and fair a group as possible.
  4. The group will ask for any statement from the complainant in addition to their complaint. The accused will be informed of the details of the complaint made against them, with the complainant’s wishes regarding anonymity respected, and will also be asked for a statement. The group may also ask questions of the complainant and accused, and any other people as it deems necessary. The group should proceed with sensitivity and unintrusiveness if asking questions of a complainant whose complaint is on the basis of abuse or violence.
  5. While the procedure is ongoing, the NC may take the decision to suspend the member or ban them from attending events, including asking them to leave an event if a complaint is made during an event, pending the outcome of the investigation.
  6. When the group has considered the statements of the complainant and accused and any other information they have gathered, they will decide whether the accused’s behaviour:
    1. is a threat to the functioning of the organisation
    2. runs contrary to the aims of the organisation
    3. discriminates against members of oppressed groups
    4. poses a danger or harm to members of the organisation
  7. If the accused’s behaviour meets any of these criteria, the group will suggest a course of action the NC should take, which could include but is not limited to: giving the perpetrator a warning about their behaviour, banning the perpetrator from events and/or expelling them from the organisation.
  8. The NC will have the final decision as to the course of action to take, according to any conditions or procedures set out in the constitution, with the delegated group’s recommendations considered.
  9. The process up to this point should take no more than either 30 days from the original complaint or 5 days after the soonest NC meeting after the complaint was made, whichever is longer.The NC members are to treat all statements received and answers to questions as confidential and are not to talk about the details of the investigation to anyone outside the NC.
  10. If the complainant and/or accused disagrees with the decision, they can appeal the decision by writing to the NC within 30 days of the outcome. The NC can decide to uphold the decision, review the course of action or reopen the investigation, convening a different delegated group but following the same procedures as listed above. No further appeals can be made after this point.
  11. If the accused is expelled, they may apply for membership again in the future and the NC will make the decision to accept or reject their membership at the time their application is received.
  12. In cases where the complaint is related to verbal, physical or sexual abuse, bullying or violence, NC members will work with the complainant, if the complainant so wishes, to ensure that they have a support group around them and access to relevant services.

Return to motion “A new behaviour Policy and Complaints Procedure”

Register: NCAFC Women & Non-Binary Conference 2016

NCAFC Women and Non-Binary Caucus will be hosting our first conference on the 30/31st January!

Join at us at Warwick University in Coventry for a weekend of discussion, debate, skill-sharing, workshops and direct action planning.

We’ll be discussing issues such as…

How is the fight for free education gendered?
What does it mean to be left-wing and feminist?
Why should fighting the Green Paper be a priority for Liberation?
Why is the struggle of migrant women so central to women’s struggle as a whole?

This conference is open only to self-defining women (trans, intersex and cis), non-binary folk and those with marginalised or no gender identities who experience gender oppression.

Fill out the form below to register now!

The event is funded by your donations and if you cannot get your SU to fund your travel and are unable to do so yourself but still wish to attend then please get in touch ([email protected]) and we can talk about subsidies.

If you require childcare for any part of the weekend then please get in touch and we can arrange this.

There are prayer facilities on campus.

Full agenda coming soon

If the registration form is not displaying properly below, please click here.

Announcing…NCAFC Winter Conference 2015!

11921816_965268716866375_6593609279777932551_o4-6 December 2015
Sheffield

Register for free
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Become a member of NCAFC
How our conference democracy works

Six months into the new Tory government and the attacks on students and education just keep coming, with the abolition of maintenance grants, hikes in loan repayments, and a whole array of nasty methods of pushing forward the marketisation of our education system.

The student fightback has already begun, with NCAFC organising the National Demo for Free Education in November and making plans for a national student strike in the next few months.

NCAFC National Conference is a chance to come together and plan where the student movement goes next. The weekend will include political discussion and debate, chances to learn about the student movement past and present, and make plans for the future.

With a mix of speaker sessions, workshops, liberation caucuses, and democratic sessions, the conference is your chance to meet student activists from across the country and have your say on what NCAFC does next.

This conference will include the election of the National Committee (NC) as well as hearing and voting on motions submitted by the membership. The deadline for motion submission is 23:59, Friday 20 November. (For more information on how motions work, see How our conference democracy works)

We will be providing accommodation. Please register online, and get in touch if you have any questions via [email protected].

NCAFC conference: motions released, propose amendments now!

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The NCAFC’s national conference on 12-14 December is our chance to come together as education activists from across the country, and discuss and democratically decide the way forward for our movement. Debating and voting on formal proposals – motions – is one part of how we do that.

Below you can find the motions that affiliated groups have submitted. All individual NCAFC members are entitled to propose amendments to these – please send them to [email protected] before 23:59 Saturday 6 December. Amendments may add to, delete from, and/or edit the text of, these motions – please clearly indicate exactly which text from the original motion you propose to alter, and please specify the name of the person proposing the amendment.

Please register for the conference online as soon as possible! Please note that you must be a member of the NCAFC to participate in debating and voting on motions – join online.

These are the motions as they were received: please note that where separate motions discuss related issues, they may later be composited together for the debate if appropriate.

You can read more about motions, amendments and NCAFC democratic processes here.

Please note that the deadline for nominations to be considered for NCAFC endorsements in the NUS elections has been extended to 23:59 Saturday 6 December.


Motions receieved:

  • Intervening in NUS (UCL Defend Education)
  • NCAFC and the General Election (UCL Defend Education)
  • NUS NEC and other committees (Workers’ Liberty)
  • The General Election and free education (Workers’ Liberty)
  • Proposal for a national demonstration in Birmingham (Workers’ Liberty)
  • Creating a long-term strategy for the free education movement (Defend Education Birmingham)
  • Organising Regional Assemblies (Defend Education Birmingham)
  • International question (Defend Education Birmingham)
  • Our working environment (NCAFC National Committee)
  • Creating Safer Spaces (Defend Education Birmingham)

Amendments to the NCAFC constitution received:

  • Abolishing group seats on the National Committee (UCL Defend Education)
  • Having two democratic conferences per year (Defend Education Birmingham)

Intervening in NUS

Proposed by UCL Defend Education

NCAFC believes:

  1. Despite the heavily bureaucratised nature of NUS, and despite a history of betrayals by its leadership even where we have won the political arguments, we should continue to make interventions into it.
  2. NUS and local student unions are the only mass organisations of students. Activist groups like NCAFC and the local groups that make it up are vital, but they are a fundamentally different type of thing, made up only of those people already convinced of our goals. Though we can and should organise and take action outside unions, we can’t just completely ignore them and attempt to entirely substitute smaller groups of radicals in place of mass collective organisations.
  3. NUS and local unions are heavily bureaucratised. Legal frameworks, the influence of senior staff, relationships with university & college managers and government, and similar factors conspire to block radical activity and to place strong right-wing pressures on officers who get elected. So in the long-run we need to transform them – they should be participative, democratic, and founded in collective, combative action.
  4. We can’t transform NUS and our unions, or win things like free and democratic education, just by replacing right-wingers in the bureaucracy with left-wingers, or by diplomacy and manoeuvring within NUS structures. Instead our interventions have to be based on clear principles, and they have to be rooted in and accountable to activists on the ground.
  5. In the long-run, it is better to fight for our principles and our goals and find ourselves in a small minority, than to attempt to ingratiate ourselves with the circles and cliques that run in NUS and union structures.
  6. As a general rule, the prospect of losing a vote or losing allies should not hold us back from arguing for what we believe in.

NCAFC Resolves:

  1. We are not just a faction inside NUS. Our main purposes must remain organising and building for action, and convincing people to join that fight by discussing ideas: we should not let ourselves be consumed by competing within NUS.
  2. To put forward policies and election candidates in NUS on the basis of uncompromising, clear principles – NUS conferences and elections should be used as platforms to promote our ideas and our goals and to challenge the bureaucratised state of the NUS and the right-wing, anti-democratic records of much of its leadership. We should not water ourselves down in the hope of slipping through into power.
  3. Our interventions must be accountable to the movement we are building. Therefore, when we do win NUS posts for NCAFC candidates, we expect those officers and reps to remain closely accountable to NCAFC and its members. They should report regularly to the appropriate democratic structures in NCAFC, and consult with them over what they do in post at NUS.
  4. In general, the job of those officers and reps is to be the voice of grassroots left activists within NUS. Of course they should use their judgement to work with other officers and reps as appropriate, but they must put a priority on advocacy of our principles and goals and on representing activists on the ground, above diplomacy and manoeuvring within the circles and cliques that run in NUS and union structures.

NCAFC and the General Election

Proposed by UCL Defend Education

NCAFC Notes:

  1. The upcoming UK general election in May.
  2. That the general approach of NUS and most student union leaderships to elections is to emphasise the importance of voting and voter registration, and where concrete demands are put, this is with little real force.

NCAFC Believes:

  1. Parliamentary democracy under capitalism is far better than nothing, but it is profoundly limited, and to achieve the kind of radical changes we want to see requires more than just electoral action. Whoever is in government – even left or centre-left parties – students, the working class and oppressed groups need to organise and use direct action and industrial action to fight for our interests. Negotiation and lobbying, without leverage, are not enough.
  2. Too much of the student union movement either fails to recognise this or merely pays lip-service. Worse, much of our leadership, especially officers aligned to the right-wing of Labour, actively suppresses criticism and radical action in service of their personal careerist ambitions.
  3. NCAFC includes supporters of various electoral parties as well as supporters of none, and this breadth is a good thing. We are united by shared political goals and a commitment to democratic grassroots organising and action.
  4. Our priority, as the activist left of the student movement, must be to convince people to go beyond voting – to convince them that whoever is in government, we need to organise and fight. Disillusionment with parliamentary democracy is already common; what we can offer is a positive response to that disillusionment.
  5. It would be self-defeating to ignore the fact that elections provide a key opportunity that should not be missed – there is raised political awareness and an atmosphere of greater potential for engagement.

NCAFC Resolves:

  1. To take advantage of the politicised atmosphere around the election to emphasise the following message – that while it is useful to vote, it is much more powerful to organise for action, and that whichever party or parties are in power at any level of government, it will be necessary to take combative action to secure our needs and goals.
  2. To push for this approach to elections within student unions and NUS.
  3. To continue building a combative movement for free education before and after the election, based in democratic organisation, protest and direct action. This campaign for free education should be more explicitly broadened to highlight the demand for a decent living grant to every student over the age of 16. Before the election we should be clear that we will be organising to fight whatever government is elected.
  4. To make a particular point of clearly highlighting and criticising the political failures and betrayals of Labour, the Greens and similar electoral parties, as it is especially important to drive a wedge against the right-wing within such organisations.

NUS National Executive Committee and other committees

Proposed by Workers’ Liberty

Notes

  1. That NCAFC has a number of supporters on NUS committees including the National Executive Council.

Believes

  1. That this presence has played a useful role in promoting left-wing/grassroots-activist/class struggle politics from within the structures of NUS, and our comrades on committees including the NEC have done many good things with it.
  2. That the operation of our comrades on the NEC nonetheless leaves something to be desired.
  3. That problems include: NCAFC supporters on the NEC failing to communicate and consult with each other and with the NC in the run up to meetings; failing to write reports before or afterwards; and ducking political fights in various ways.
  4. That the political problem is dramatised by the fact that there was no motion on the 19 November demonstration submitted to the 2 December NEC meeting, despite the NUS leadership’s outrageous sell out of the movement and subversion of NUS democracy – because most of our comrades would not second the motion proposed – and that it was only possible to submit an emergency motion because previously non-NCAFC people seconded it.
  5. That while there are sometimes tactical considerations and reasons for caution, in general we should use the NEC and similar committees to fight boldly and audaciously for our policies and politics. We owe this to the student movement; it is far more important than not pissing off right-wing and soft-left people in the NUS structures.

Resolves

  1. To call on NCAFC supporters on NUS NEC and other committees
    1. To consult and communicate with each other and with the NC in the run up to committee meetings about what to submit, how to intervene, etc, and publish notifications on the website about the issues coming up.
    2. To publish reports on the website after every meeting.
  2. That none of this means that our comrades on such committees cannot hold, express and put forward different or minority positions. The point is that there should be consultation and where possible cooperation.
  3. That NC meetings should include a section where members of NUS committees report back.
  4. To call on all NCAFC supporters, whatever their position in the movement, to use it in the spirit of a bold and audacious fight for left-wing/grassroots-activist/class-struggle politics.

The General Election and Free Education

Proposed by Workers’ Liberty

Believes

  1. That the student movement should seek to use the general election to impose its demands, including free education.
  2. That UKIP’s racist anti-migrant agitation – and all mainstream parties’ acceptance of UKIP’s terms – will politically dominate the election period.

Resolves

  1. To organise meetings and actions in the student movement to assert the right of international students to free education; and more generally to oppose immigration controls and anti-migrant agitation.
  2. To ask the NC to consult on and produce a short statement of demands to campaign around in the run up to and during the general election.
  3. To work with the Labour Campaign for Free Education to demand that Labour adopts free education and other student demands.
  4. To work with the Young Greens.
  5. To seek public support from all the major national trade unions (and also their youth sections) for free education and our other demands.
  6. To work with local groups and student unions to organise a targeted rolling program of pickets and protest against MPs.

Proposal for a National Demonstration in Birmingham

Proposed by Workers’ Liberty

Next term the student movement will need to organise more action to keep free education (as well as opposition to cuts and privatisation, opposition to victimisations and anti-democratic crackdowns, and solidarity with workers in struggle) on the agenda. This will mostly be local action but it would also be good to have another national focus for the movement.

This is a proposal to hold a national demonstration in Birmingham sometime in the second term. Why?

  1. It would be good to demonstrate somewhere other than London.
  2. There is an important activist group in Birmingham, Defend Education, which has many of its own issues to highlight, needs support and can build effectively locally.
  3. The Labour Party’s Higher Education spokesperson, Liam Byrne, is a Birmingham MP, and is busy selling out even the crap 6k fees promise Ed Miliband made to students. We should take the demonstration to his constituency and embarrass him and Labour.

A national demonstration for free education in Birmingham, with has as one element condemning Labour’s repeated sell outs and wholesale capitulation to neo-liberalism and demanding it changes it policy to free education, would be a good thing to do.

We could also get trade unions locally and nationally to support and sponsor the demonstration – starting with local support and then demanding national support.

Clearly we are not going to get 10,000 students to Birmingham in February, but we can get a very substantial number if we start organising now. We should seek to get student unions and activist groups to organise transport.

NCAFC should work with BDE on this and call for wider support.


 

Creating a long term strategy for the free education movement

Proposed by Defend Education Birmingham

NCAFC notes:

  1. The amendments deadline, which has not yet passed

NCAFC believes:

  1. The past few months have been the product of an unprecedented level of work and strategy done by student activists – inside NCAFC and outside – and we need to keep this going and continue to develop a strategy that can keep the student movement going and beat the government.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To develop a strategy which includes:
    1. More effective raising and using of resources, looking towards paying national organisers
    2. The expansion and improvement of local groups
    3. The expansion and improvement of NCAFC
    4. More and better direct action
    5. More effective and clearer strategies for interacting with institutions – including NUS and formal politics
  2. To release a ‘ free education battleplan’ and to develop an organisational strategy based on (a) the resolves of this motion (after amendments), along with (b) other actions and strategies we pass at conference and (c) elements of informal discussion from conference incorporated by the NC.

Organising Regional Assemblies

Proposed by Defend Education Birmingham

NCAFC notes:

  1. That the number of active local campus anti-cuts/free education groups has increased in the past few months

NCAFC believes:

  1. That helping these groups to co-ordinate regional assemblies could lead to greater links between activists in a similar localities, enable them to discuss issues relevant to their area, organise joint direction actions and pass on skills and knowledge between different activists and groups
  2. That these regional groups are potentially in a better position to help start up activist groups on nearby campuses than the National Committee

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To work with established anti-cuts/free education groups to work out sensible regional groupings
  2. To work with these groups to set up and publicise regional assemblies in the spring term where different groups and activists for a similar area can come together
  3. That these regional assemblies shall be autonomous from NCAFC but they may decide to establish themselves as a “Region” and thus secure a place on the National Committee. They may decide their own policy, hold their own elections and organise their own actions if they so choose

International question

NCAFC believes:

  1. That is a group primarily concerned with fighting against fees and cuts within higher and further education
  2. NCAFC should be composed of a broad coalition of groups with the aim of achieving the aforementioned aims
  3. Following this, NCAFC should avoid making statements around international matters not directly related to education

NCAFC resolves to:

  1. Avoid making statements around international matters not directly related to education

Our working environment

Proposed by: NCAFC National Committee

NCAFC believes

  1. That we should have high expectations of good behaviour to ensure as safe and pleasant a working environment as possible.
  2. That oppressive behaviour:
    1. is generally unconscious, unintentional and a product of an oppressive society and environment
    2. is nonetheless unacceptable and should be prevented and challenged
    3. must not be responded to with more oppressive behaviour in response.
  3. That we should take collective responsibility for each other’s’ behaviour:
    1. We should ‘police’ ourselves democratically, collectively and equally. We should not rely on policing ‘from above’.
    2. It is not possible to legislate away oppressive behaviour and it is not desirable to give anyone the power to try to do so.
    3. We should act to prevent, challenge and rehabilitate but never to punish.
  4. That poor behaviour should be challenged constructively, respectfully and, where appropriate, confidentially.
  5. That we should be as inclusive as possible but that it is, nonetheless, sometimes necessary to exclude people from a space.

NCAFC resolves

  1. Replace the existing Safe Spaces Policy with the attached:
    1. Good Conduct Policy and
    2. Events Policy

Good Conduct Policy

  1. It is expected that participants at NCAFC events:
    1. respect the authority of the Chair and only challenge it through the appropriate structures
    2. treat one another with respect and courtesy, even when challenging their behaviour
    3. do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, sex, gender, age, sexuality, language, disability, asylum status, religious affiliation or any other arbitrary criteria.
    4. get explicit verbal consent before touching someone
    5. avoid assuming the opinions and identification of other participants
    6. act in a spirit of comradely co-operation
    7. do not consume alcohol or recreational drugs
    8. give one another the time and space to speak, using appropriate, understood and agreed hand signals where relevant
    9. are responsible not only for their own behaviour but for challenging poor behaviour in others
  2. NCAFC will ensure that events
    1. are hosted in venues as accessible as possible to the widest range of people
    2. include, where possible, a supervised quiet room
    3. are halted for an access break of no less than 10 minutes at the request of any one person, providing that there has not been one in the previous 90 minutes
  3. It is the collective responsibility of all NCAFC members to ensure that this Policy is followed.

Events Policy

  1. There shall be an Organising Committee for each NCAFC event.
  2. That in serious circumstances this Committee shall have the power to remove, by unanimous decision, an individual from the event.
  3. The committee shall exercise this power if all of the following criteria are met:
    1. A member of the NCAFC has requested that the individual(s) is removed from the event or set of events.
    2. There is good reason to suspect that the individual(s) poses a serious risk to the safety of other participants.
    3. There is good reason why this request cannot be dealt with democratically and publicly.
  4. This decision:
    1. is based on whether someone’s presence could reasonably pose a serious risk to participants’ safety
    2. should not be interpreted as a pronouncement of guilt or innocence, nor a recommendation to other organisations for how they should act.
    3. should be reported to the
      1. excluded individual(s)
      2. the member who made the request

Creating Safer Spaces

Proposed by Defend Education Birmingham

NCAFC believes:

  1. That any campaign which concerns itself with education ought to be inclusive of all aspects of the struggle, specifically the struggles of those from marginalised groups
  2. That we can only ever create a ‘safer’ space, not an entirely safe space, and that this is an on-going process which ought to be regularly assessed and revised by a rotating working group
  3. That safer spaces exist in order to empower oppressed individuals and groups and to challenge oppressive behaviour within an organisation/group either by individuals or by groups involved in the campaign
  4. That we should take collective responsibility for each other’s’ behaviour:
    1. We should ‘police’ ourselves democratically, collectively and equally. We should not rely on policing ‘from above’.
    2. It is not possible to legislate away oppressive behaviour and it is not desirable to give anyone the power to try to do so.
    3. We should act to prevent, challenge and rehabilitate. Only through this approach can we build towards a more inclusive/unoppressive environment.
  5. That breaches of the safer spaces policy should be dealt with respectfully and constructively, with a sensitivity to aspects which should be kept confidential when necessary.
  6. That, in extreme circumstances, it may be necessary to exclude individuals or groups from the space.

NCAFC resolves:

  1. To replace the existing Safe Space Policy with the attached Safer Spaces Policy and Accountability Processes

Safer Spaces Policy

It is the collective responsibility of all NCAFC members to ensure the following points are acted upon both during meetings/conferences/events and online on the NCAFC Loomio, Facebook page and website (where points are applicable):

  1. Participants should respect the facilitatory methods of the Chair and only challenge them through the appropriate structures
  2. Participants should not discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, sex, gender, age, sexuality, language, disability, asylum status, religious affiliation or any other structurally oppressive criteria.
  3. Everyone should get explicit verbal consent before touching someone, this is a part of respecting one another’s emotional and physical boundaries. Sexual harassment or sexual assault will lead to the perpetrator being banned from the premises and potential police involvement, if desired by the victim(s), will be fully supported. If you encounter any kind of harassment or assault please let us know, so that those responsible can be dealt with.
  4. We should avoid assuming the opinions and identification of other participants. Examples include, but are not limited to, assumptions regarding sex, sexuality, gender identity, preferred personal pronouns, neurotypicality, able-bodied status, socio-economic background, relationship model (monogamous, polyamorous etc.) and religious beliefs.
  5. Try to avoid speaking about obviously psychologically triggering topics (including not limited to: rape, sexual assault, self-harm, suicide, abuse etc.) in a public domain or, where possible, preclude this with a ‘trigger warning’. This can be simply a verbal warning of the content of the discussion, with adequate room for objection or avoidance for those who may find the topic triggering. In general we encourage open and frank discussion of issues related to oppression and ideology surrounding this. However, this should not be at the risk of alienating or causing others psychological distress.
  6. During meetings and other related non-social events refrain from consuming alcohol or recreational drugs
  7. We should give one another the time and space to speak, using appropriate, understood and agreed hand signals where relevant
  8. We are responsible not only for our own behaviour but for challenging poor behaviour in others
  9. We should always be aware of the social space we occupy, as well as the positions and privileges we may be conveying, including racial, class and gender privilege. If a member of a liberation group (keeping in mind that it is possible to be oppressive whilst identifying also identifying as a part of that oppressed group) requests that you change your use of language regarding topics about their liberation, please be respectful and change your use of language. If you are unsure as to the reason your language was inappropriate or offensive, please politely request that the complainant explain, if they feel they are able to or are willing to with the understanding that they in no way owe you this explanation. Failing this, remove yourself from the situation and take on personal research on the matter.
  10. During all meetings and events there should be access breaks for a minimum of ten minutes at least every 90 minutes and/or upon request.

Accountability processes

  1. NCAFC should elect a Safer Spaces working group/committee who are committed to ensuring the enacting of the Safer Spaces Policy both at events and in online organising spaces (e.g. the NCAFC Loomio , website and Facebook page).
    1. This working group will deal with any and all breaches of the Safer Spaces Policy, or complaints regarding it.
    2. The working group should be up for re-election at every conference at a minimum
    3. The working group should include at least one person from each liberation caucus (BME, Women’s, LGBTQ and Disabled) though other may join if they wish to
    4. The working group should be composed of at least eight people, if not more
    5. It shall be the duty of the working group to deal with complaints in a timely and sensitive manner
  2. During meetings if the Safer Spaces Policy is breached members on the working group should feel free to point it out and attempt to deal with it. Others may also come forward to inform the working group about Safer Spaces breaches. All complaints should be taken seriously.

Language/assumptions/biases complaints

  1. If oppressive language is used it should be challenged as soon as possible
  2. Generally, if people feel able, it should addressed immediately and called out, with appropriate explanations as to why it is oppressive and what language might be used instead
  3. If the offender apologises and changes their language immediately, and this is their first or one of their first offences, the matter need not be pursued any further
  4. If, however, this person refuses to change their language and/or is a repeat offender the matter should be taken up by the working group who will discuss further measures to take including:
  5. Issuing the offender with a formal warning (written or verbal) and explanation of how their use of language is offensive, reminding them of the Safer Spaces Policy
  6. Asking the offender to leave the group entirely if it is felt that they are not at all receptive, after the formal warning
  7. If it is felt this is a widespread or commonly misunderstood issue there should be discuss of a workshop to inform others on the issues surrounding this particular complaint

Oppressive behaviours

  1. If members behaviours are oppressive (e.g. constantly talking over others, turning up to meetings drunk, refusing to let others speak) this should be challenged immediately
  2. Generally, if people feel able, the behaviours should be called out by any members, in particular those who are part of the working group
  3. If the offender recognises their behaviour as oppressive and attempts to rectify this immediately, then the group should be supportive and continue to help them address these behaviours
  4. If, however, the offender refuses to engage with this process they should be:
  5. Asked to leave with immediate effect, that particular event, pending investigation
  6. Be under investigation i.e. the complainants and other witnesses should inform the working group of examples of their behaviour, including a statement from the offender, which should all be taken into account and final decision should be made regarding the offenders future involvement in NCAFC
  7. If the offender is found ‘guilty’ by the working group they should be asked to leave and to refrain from attending all future NCAFC events and banned from online spaces
  8. The working group may decide to put a time limit on these measures, or to only carry out some of them, depending on severity

Physical/Sexual harassment, assault and violation of boundaries

  1. If members or the working group witnesses or hears of any form of coercive, non-consenting physical or sexual assault they should encourage the victim to come forward and report it. Only if the victim is comfortable should this be taken to the official working group, they are under no obligation to report it.
  2. This matter should be dealt with by as few people as possible. One person on the working group should be involved directly with the complainant. They should remain anonymous to all other members of the working group to try and avoid bias. The case should be presented in a neutral, victim-led way.
  3. The case should be reviewed by the working group taking into consideration statement from both the victim and the accused, but with the understanding that this process should always depend on the victim’s wishes. It is NOT for the working group to decide whether or not the accused is guilt they ONLY decide if they consider them a threat to others and the victim’s safety.
  4. The working group may decide to take any or all of the following measures:
  5. Issue a warning to the offender that their behaviour has made others uncomfortable and that any further breach may lead to more serious action being taken
  6. Banning the offender from all future events and online forums
  7. Banning the offender for a fixed period of time
  8. Ensuring that the offender and the victim (and those affected) are not in the same spaces
  9. Supporting the victim in either legal action or restorative justice

Amendment to the constitution – abolishing group seats on the National Committee

Proposed by UCL Defend Education

NCAFC believes

  1. The ability for local groups, not just individuals, to take seats on the National Committee (NC) has failed as a system since it was introduced last year.
  2. These group delegate seats raise problems for democracy and accountability.
    1. They make the elections less democratic and more apolitical. NCAFC members at conference can vote for individuals on the basis of their different political ideas of the NCAFC, ensuring that different political tendencies are fairly represented within the NC via an STV voting system – but you cannot vote for a local group on a clear political basis unless you pretend that local groups are basically politically homogeneous and relatively unchanging. In reality the basis of the elections then tends to become more apolitical or clique-based.
    2. This raises the question – to whom is the NC accountable? These delegates are supposed to be accountable to their local groups – so they cannot be properly accountable to the wider membership of NCAFC, unlike individual members who can be held accountable to the politics on which they ran for election.
    3. These delegate seats mean that rather than the whole membership (via conference) being represented by the NC, instead a small number of local groups are given disproportionate power. Those members who happen to be in local groups that for whatever reason don’t get delegate seats elected, or isolated outside sustained groups, are less well-represented.
  3. Most of the examples of delegate seats this year have not worked in terms of being able to involve the whole group deeply and consistently in decision-making. This is not an easy system to make work unless a group is, and consistently remains, large, well-established and sustained in activity.
  4. The best way for the NC to be democratic, fairly representative and accountable to the whole membership of the NCAFC is for our elections to be as political and direct as possible. Individuals should stand and be elected on the basis of their ideas, their proposals and their activist work.
  5. There are better, more consistently democratic ways for activists and groups on the ground to participate in decision-making continuously between conferences. We should make more use of the new web forum to discuss issues, and we should develop our regional sections which could allow different activists and groups to meet more regularly and feed up and down.
  6. When it becomes necessary to bring new individuals into the private discussions of the NC between conferences (e.g. the central organisers of last month’s demo) the more consistent and democratic way to let that happen is for the NC to vote to let them be non-voting observers.

NCAFC Resolves:

  1. To amend Section 4.B.2. of the NCAFC constitution as follows so that the block of 14 seats on the NC must be taken by individuals:

The National Committee consists of:

  • 14 members, or affiliated groups, elected by single transferable vote (with 40% of the places reserved for women)
  • 1 voting representative for each Liberation Campaign (which can be shared)
  • 1 voting representative for each Region or Nation (which can be shared)
  • 1 voting representative for each Section (which can be shared)
  • Affiliated groups can offer themselves as candidates for election to the National Committee, as either an ‘open place delegate’ or as a ‘women-only delegate’. They will then stand in the election along with the other individual members, in either the ‘open’ section or the ‘women-only’ section.

For the election count the group shall be considered as a normal candidate. If the candidate is a ‘women-only delegate’ it shall be counted towards the reserved places for women. If it is an ‘open place delegate’ it shall not.


If the delegate place is elected the group will be able to fill that seat with a recallable delegate as it sees fit. If the delegate place is ‘women-only’ then the delegate must be a self-defining woman.

Where a vote is shared, the representatives present must come to a majority view of how to vote; if not, they must abstain.

Sections and Regions are self-organising groups, and exist once they are recognised by the NC.

Any NCAFC member may attend NC meetings, and the NC can invite others if it wishes to. The NC can establish working groups of whoever it wants to take on various projects.


 

Amendment to the Constitution: Having two democratic conferences per year

Proposed by Defend Education Birmingham

NCAFC notes:

  1. At present, we only have one formal democratic conference per year (with some interim liberation caucuses in summer on an ad hoc basis).
  2. There is a high turnover in student activism: being an NC member in two academic years may lead to some people dropping out half way through their term.
  3. NCAFC has held 1 to 2 summer events every year since 2011.

NCAFC conference believes:

  1. We have had a historic problem with NC members becoming inactive following the end of an academic year. It does not make sense for some activists to be bound to a role which they cannot fulfil. It makes even less sense for activists not to run for NC because they are worried they would not continue in the role satisfactorily
  2. Ideally, we would re-elect the NC every six months. However, doing this at present would mean either electing the NC from an unreliably attended conference or expending a large part of NCAFC’s organisational energies into building another conference.
  3. We should hold a Summer Conference every year – which could be combined with summer training – which:
    1. Takes place in June, July, August or September
    2. Allows NC members who are about to become inactive to stand down, and elect replacements
    3. Discusses and passes policy and strategy proposals for the summer/autumn term
    4. Does not amend the constitution
    5. Does not re-elect the whole NC

NCAFC conference resolves:

  1. To amend the constitution as follows:

In Section 4, REPLACE all relevant mentions of ‘conference’ with ‘annual conference’
DELETE Bullet point 2 in 4.A.1: “There shall be at least one conference per academic year”, and REPLACE “There shall be at least one annual conference per year and one Summer Conference per year, as laid out below”.
ADD 4.A.6:

“In the months of June, July, August or September, NCAFC will hold a summer conference. This can be combined with another event (such as a training or gathering event) and will have the power to:

  • Discuss and approve strategies for the coming months through a motions process
  • Fill vacant or inactive posts on the National Committee, including through caucuses

Before the Summer Conference, NC members who are currently or are planning to become inactive in student activism are encouraged to resign so that their place can be refilled at the conference.”

NCAFC members to elect candidates for NUS leadership: nominations open now

Logo of the National Union of StudentsAs part of our National Conference 12-14 December, where we will debate and decide on plans for where to take our movement next, the NCAFC’s members will also select our endorsed candidates for the Presidency and Vice-Presidencies of the National Union of Students.

Nominations are open now and will close at 23:59 Monday 1 December [extended to 23:59 Saturday 6 December]. Please read the details below about submitting nominations.

Mass mobilisation and democratic organising for protest, direct action and industrial action are the NCAFC’s focus. As activists we work both within student union structures – transforming them where we can – and independently of them as much as we need to. We aim to build a movement in our campuses, workplaces and communities, not just to win control of formal organisations. It is tempting to imagine, as some on the left do, that electoral victories at the top could offer a short-cut past the hard work of developing a healthy, democratic movement and union from the bottom up – this is a mistake.

Nevertheless, participating in these elections is worthwhile because they are a platform – one of many opportunities to argue for our ideas, challenge the direction of the bureaucratised NUS, and present the alternatives of a principled, militant student movement and a fighting, democratic union. And though elected officers are no substitute for a movement, they can help to build that alternative if they remain connected to the movement that put them there.

Therefore our candidates must be selected by, and democratically accountable to, our movement. So we invite potential candidates to put their proposed political platforms forward, and we invite members to.

  • The conference will discuss NCAFC’s candidates for the following full-time NUS positions: President, Vice President (Further Education), Vice President (Higher Education), Vice President (Welfare), Vice President (Union Development) and Vice President (Society & Citizenship). Candidates must be available to run at the NUS National Conference on 21-23 April 2015. Other NUS elections will be discussed separately.
  • Nominations must be received at [email protected] by 23:59 Monday 1 December [extended to 23:59 Saturday 6 December]
  • Candidates can include members and non-members of the NCAFC.
  • Nominations should include a political statement of no more than 800 words. This should be text only, with no graphics. Statements will be reproduced publicly and on the NCAFC members’ forum for discussion, and we hope that as many members as possible will join debate on that forum in the run-up to the conference.
  • If possible, candidates should attend NCAFC Conference 12-14 December, where there will be hustings on the Sunday.
  • We would be grateful if candidates could indicate whether they fall within any liberation strands (by self-definition – Women, LGBT students, Disabled students, Black students) so that representation in our slate can be considered. However, this is optional.
  • The NCAFC will campaign for its selected candidates. Our members who are NUS delegates will be encouraged to vote accordingly, but are not required to do so.

See also: how to submit proposals and run for election to the NCAFC’s National Committee

NCAFC National Conference will be on 13-14 December – save the date!

ncafcdemo

This autumn we may well see a major wave of action from students for free education, against fees cuts and debt. We need action now to save education – demos, walkouts, occupations and more.

But action can’t happen in isolation. It needs to be co-ordinated nationally and it needs to be democratically agreed. That is why NCAFC exists.

NCAFC’s National Conference is where we students from all over the country come together to discuss the progress of the struggles for free, just and democratic education, and to democratically plan action in the months to come. We also elect a National Committee to coordinate things for the coming year. There will be workshops, discussions, debates and votes as well as caucus meetings of our liberation campaigns.

The date has been set for the weekend of 13-14 December, so put it in your diaries! Attendance, as ever, will be free of charge. More details will be released as the venue is confirmed and other arrangements are made.

In order to attend NCAFC conference, you will need to be a member. Joining costs just £1, and can be done online or by post.

NCAFC Conference Report

Report of NCAFC conference

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts national conference took place in Birmingham on December 8th and 9th.  150 activists came together from all over the country to co-ordinate local struggles and plan the future of NCAFC.

The general tone of the conference was constructive and determined: one of developing ideas, strategies and structures to allow the student movement to fight and win when it next surges. There was a huge array of discussion and debate – in informal and formal sessions, as well as self-organised spaces for Liberation groups, and a lot of socialising and fun. (If you have photos of the conference, please email them to [email protected])

In this report:

1.Structural Outcomes of the conference

2.What conference voted for

3. Workshops roundup

4. Liberation, Section and Regional caucuses roundup

5. Election Results

6.  Motions passed in full

 

1.Structural Outcomes of the conference

The conference was a major step forward for the campaign, and for the first time established a clear set of core principles and a constitution for NCAFC.  This means:

  • NCAFC has a charter of core principles
  • NCAFC is now a membership organisation with:  watch this space for info on how to become a member
  • When the student movement next has an upsurge, we can dissolve our existing structures into a directly democratic delegate model
  • Local anti-cuts and other societies can now affiliate to NCAFC
  • NCAFC is in the process of setting up a new Federation of students or student unions, to which unions or students can affiliate. This will be decided at a conference, which will occur within 6 months

2. What conference voted for

The full text of what was passed is below. In short, NCAFC decided to:

  • Work on creating broad, non-sectarian anticuts groups on every campus
  • Push forward with a central political campaign for free education funded by taxation of the rich, while also focussing on neglected issues which affect many students, including housing and the NHS
  • Make the call for the abolition of all debt a serious political priority
  • Build a network of school and FE students, on the basis of campaigning for living grants; building fighting college students’ unions; opposing privatisation & marketisation; opposing market-driven mergers and cuts in courses and lecturers; and resisting all fees in education
  • Run a campaign on students’ rights as workers
  • Link up with Medsin, BMA Students, Keep Our NHS Public and the NHS Unity Network to fight what the government is doing to healthcare
  • Campaign within the Labour Movement for a coalition of ‘Trade Unions for free education.’
  • Organise towards a united left intervention within NUS
  • Make links with student activists in Sri Lanka against violent attacks on them

 

3.Workshops roundup

The conference provided a lot of opportunities for useful informal discussion of a wide range of topics. These included:

The fight for Further Education

International students – for dignity, against deportations!,

What’s happening to our Unis? An overview of attacks on HE

Change the world – Organise at work!

The lessons of the Quebec students’ struggle

Defending abortion rights

Student union democracy – smashing “their” structures and building our own

Saving the NHS

 

4. Liberation, Section and Regional caucuses roundup

Disabled Caucus

Disabled students caucus ran a lot more smoothly than it ever has before. Usually our time is entirely consumed discussing access needs at the actual event but those were so well organised for, that following elections, (in which Matthew Reuben and Edmund Schlussel were elected uncontested) we began a discussion on bullying. We talked about the way it can destroy movements and officers, how to counteract it, and how to support each other. We also discussed how there is a culture of silence around disability and, especially, ‘invisible’ disability on the left, and how to tackle it. Looking to the future we want to get involved in the cross-liberation conference we hope to plan for early Spring, and we want to prepare, probably two, workshops for the next training event. We also intend to build links with groups such as DPAC with the goal of calling a national day of action against ATOS in the new year.

LGBTQ Caucus

There were about 30 delegates present but we believe work must be done to engage more LGBTQ activists, especially Black* and Trans* students. We discussed issues that affect LGBTQ students, for instance cuts in public sector services for LGBTQ people, access to health services and education due to money issues and coming out, and lack of visibility for LGBTQ students.

After elections, we talked about the idea of “community”, and how the many local LGBT societies have become depoliticised and prone to doing only inaccessible/stereotypical social events. We want to engage societies and clubs around universities and colleges in a radical political community, and in NCAFC. The caucus agreed that there was a job to do in terms of intervening in the NUS LGBT Campaign, which has radical potential.

It was also agreed to call and hold a Liberation Conference where all self identify Disabled, Black, Women, and LGBTQ people can attend to discuss issues and unify efforts to campaign for all of the groups and improve Intersectionality work. We will aim to combine this with Liberation Training sessions.

Black Power Caucus

Around 14 people attended the Black Power Caucus. This isn’t great but is an improvement on previous years. Much of the caucus’s time was taken up with a debate around elections and candidates within the caucus, but it was ultimately productive. After elections, the caucus discussed using different forms of communications – including social media – to organise, and setting up an e-list. The caucus also agreed to organise an event in the near future.

Women’s Caucus

The women’s caucus elected a new women’s committee of 9 people which aims to support the activity of women in the NCAFC locally and organise for national activity; facilitate communication and skills sharing between women activists; and promote broader involvement in NCAFC Women and the NCAFC.

We reflected on the experience of conference so far (meeting on the Saturday evening). We agreed that, despite the fact it was statistically male-dominated, it was the most positive and accessible conference we had experienced. To build upon this and improve future events we agreed to explore ensuring gender neutral toilets, childcare provision and working together to propose motions and support each other to prepare speeches and participate more actively in motions debates. We also agreed to approach the other liberation caucuses to consider how we could improve diversity within the women’s caucus.

Reviewing the Charter for Women in Education (passed at last NCAFC conference) we discussed a few areas on which we would like to focus activity in the coming period. In particular, defending and extending abortion rights; fighting against attacks on the NHS; and defending or fighting to reinstate childcare support services on campuses, stood out. We also discussed how we might relate to support networks for women who experienced violence or abuse, and considered researching the experiences of women in education around this issue.

Scotland Caucus

The group discussed how best to organise the Scottish section of NCAFC. A consensus was reached to establish a relationship similar to that of NUS UK and NUS Scotland. A working group was established to organise a conference in February to constitute NCAFC Scotland as a federation of affiliated unions, groups and individuals. It was agreed the conference would meet in Aberdeen, and the group would approach as many sympathetic groups as possible.

The working group consists of NC members from Scottish institutions, namely Megan Dunn, Mike Shaw, James McAsh, Gordon Maloney, Lucy Eskell, Hona Luisa Cohen-Fuentes and Nathan Bower-Bir. Elections were held for the NCAFC Scotland representatives on national committee, with Megan Dunn (University of Aberdeen) and Mike Shaw (University of Edinburgh) elected.

 

The group also briefly discussed recent changes in education policy in Scotland and the need to organise around housing issues.

Welsh Caucus

The Welsh caucus was bigger than in previous years.  Elections were held for the Campaign Against Fees & Cuts Cymru Committee and is now Edmund (Cardiff), Andrew (Aberystwyth), and Jamie O’Brien (Aberystwyth).

A new announcement on HE policy in Wales is due after Christmas, and we’ll be looking at how we can develop anti-cuts groups in Wales and to engage these groups in CAFCC/NCAFC.

International Caucus

The International Caucus had a well-attended and productive meeting, during which we discussed a breadth of issues confronting non-home, and in particular non-EU/EEA, students here in the UK. Some of the most pressing issues we addressed include the following: Obtaining student visas; strict monitoring of students, including attendance monitoring and the government’s “Prevent” agenda; high, volatile fees; new regulations for remaining in the UK post-study; and the UK Border Agency’s revocation of sponsor status from colleges and universities (e.g. London Met), leading to students’ loss of their visas (taking note also of the particular challenges faced by students of private colleges). We discussed the problems that follow from these—including added stress, feelings of alienation, and the threat of deportation—, noting further that many of our challenges are linked to the other Liberation Caucuses and that we would benefit from greater collaboration. 

As we enhance our understanding of these issues and their effects, we seek to engage more international students on our own and other campuses to build a broader movement. A conference to be held in Bradford in or around late February will provide us the opportunity to coordinate with other campaigns and groups to delve deeper into these issues and agree upon direct action we can take. 

We selected three members to represent us on the National Committee: Arianna Tassinari, Aadam Siciid-Muuse, and Nathan Bower-Bir.

Jewish Left Caucus

A caucus of self-defining Jewish NCAFC supporters caucused towards the end of the conference, to talk about issues such as jewish political identity and anti-Semitism. Discussion focussed on a number of issues, including the recent release of anti-Semitic cartoons by the ISG in Scotland. The caucus decided not to ask for representation on the NC, but will be an active informal caucus within the campaign. If you want to be involved, email [email protected]

 

5. Election Results: a total of 38 elections took place

National Committee ‘Block of 14′ members (14 elected, 40% reserved for women):

  • Beth Redmond, Liverpool John Moores
  • Luke Durigan, UCL
  • Roshni Joshi, South Downs College
  • James McAsh, Edinburgh University
  • Michael Chessum, UCL and ULU
  • Gordon Maloney, Aberdeen University
  • Claire Lister, Birmingham University
  • Daniel Lemberger Cooper, Royal Holloway and ULU
  • Rosie Huzzard, Sheffield College
  • Naomi Beecroft, Edinburgh University
  • Edward Maltby, London
  • Hannah Webb, UCL
  • Simon Furse, Birmingham University
  • Matt Stanley, Mid Kent College

 

Scotland Region (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Mike Shaw, Edinburgh University (Open Place)
  • Megan Dunn, Aberdeen University (Women’s Place)

 

Wales Region (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Andrew Tindall, Aberystwyth University
  • Edmund Schluessel, Cardiff University
  • Jamie O’Brien, Aberystwyth University

 

London Region (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Alex Peters-Day, London School of Economics
  • Thais Yáñez, Birkbeck College

 

Women’s Campaign (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Esther Townsend, University of East London
  • Thais Yanez, Birkbeck
  • Beth Redmond, Liverpool John Moores
  • Alice Marshall, Hull University
  • Ella Thorp, Newcastle University
  • Hanna Moy, Edinburgh University
  • Naomi Beecroft, Edinburgh University
  • Alannah Mary Jane Ainslie, Aberdeen University
  • Hona Luisa Cohen-Fuentes, Edinburgh University

 

Disabled Campaign (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Edmund Schluessel, Cardiff University
  • Matthew Reuben, Royal Holloway and Cordoba

 

Black Power Campaign (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Ravi Maitreya Normandale, SOAS (Open Place)
  • Roshni Joshi, South Downs College (Women’s Place)

 

LGBTQ Campaign (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Jack Saffery-Rowe, Royal Holloway (Open Place)
  • Sarah Watson, Aberdeen University (Women’s Place)
  • Thais Yanez, Birkbeck  (Trans Place)

 

International Section (sharing 1 vote on the NC):

  • Arianna Tassinari, Oxford
  • Nathan Bower-Bir, Edinburgh University
  • Aadam Muuse, Bradford

 

 

6.  Motions passed in full

The NCAFC constitution which passed is now available on the website: to see it, please click here.

 

Standing Orders, Debating Procedure, and Safe Spaces Policy

Conference procedures

The Secretariat is responsible for allocating chairs to sessions and for running the debates, including procedural motions and compositing. They sit near the chair, and may not vote.

The debating procedure is as follows:

1. A proposing speech for the motion

2. Debates on any amendments to the main motion, which follow the procedure in 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

3. An equally timed opposing speech against the motion

4. Further debate at the chair’s discretion until the debate is balanced

5. Parts procedure

6. A vote. If the chair deems that there is a clear majority, they may declare the motion passed or fallen. If the chair cannot call the vote, the vote must be counted by the Secretariat, who may ask for assistance from members of the NC.

 

The parts procedure is as follows:

–          Any conference attendee may call for parts by specifying them in writing to the chair

–          The parts may be to REMOVE or PASS any part of any motion or amendment

–          The chair shall call one timed speech in favour of the parts (property of their proposer) and one equally timed speech against. They may call more if the debate is contentious and there is time.

 

Procedural motions are as follows

1. A challenge to the chair’s ruling on a vote: if this passes a revote on the motion or amendment will be held without further debate.

2. A call for a revote on any given amendment or motion: if this passes a revote on the motion or amendment will be held without further debate.

3. A call for a recount on any given amendment or motion: if this passes a count will take place again.

4. A call for more speeches on any given amendment or motion: if this passes, another round of speeches will be held. (The chair may also accept this motion without a vote).

5. No confidence in the Chair: if this passes, a new Chair will be elected from the floor by show of hands.

6. A call for a suspension of procedural motions: if this passes, no procedural motions may be proposed other than motion 8.

7. A call for a change in the agenda: if this passes, the agenda will be amended accordingly.

8. A reinstatement of procedural motions: if this passes, the outcome of motion 6 is reversed.

 

Procedural motions take precedence over the debating procedure. They can be proposed by any conference attendee.  In the case of motion 5, the Chair will vacate, and the debate will be chaired by a member of the Secretariat.

 

Elections at conference

The following elections shall take place at conference:

  • Elections for the National Committee
  • Elections in autonomous caucuses

 

The Secretariat have responsibility for co-ordinating non-autonomous elections at conference, and appointing a Returning Officer or returning Officers. Returning Officers have responsibility for running and announcing elections at conference, and may not run for election themselves.

 

The elections for non-autonomous elections shall be held as follows:

–          Candidates must nominate themselves by a set deadline

–          Candidates running for the same position shall be given the same allocated hustings length

–          The voting system shall be Single Transferable Vote

–          If a gender quota system is in place, ballots will be counted regardless of it in the first instance. The lowest ordinarily elected non-quota candidates will then be excluded from the count, and candidates on the quota promoted, until the quota has been satisfied.

 

Liberation, section and regional caucuses shall hold elections for their positions as follows:

–          Elections must be held at every conference. (Caucuses may also hold additional elections at training caucuses if they vote to do so).

–          Elections shall be run by an appointee of the caucus.

–          Candidates shall make elections speeches, and have equal time allocated

–          Elections may be approved by show of hands if any position is uncontested; if not, Alternative Vote must be used

 

 

Safer Spaces Policy

Anyone who comes to NCAFC-organised events is subject to this policy.

NCAFC cannot fully meet its goals if it is not fully inclusive, or if it leaves any demographic feeling marginalised, unrepresented, or unwelcome. This safe space policy is designed to ensure that meetings take place in a considerate and relevant manner, without participants being undermined for discriminatory reasons.

If someone violates these agreements three times, they will be asked to leave the space. The three-strike policy can be bypassed if a serious infraction of these agreements happens, to the extent that someone feels unsafe. Examples of serious infractions include, but are not limited to, harassment, bullying, theft, sexual harassment, sexual assault and threatening or violent behaviour. NCAFC takes all violations of these agreements seriously, so please don’t hesitate to make your concerns known.

1. To ensure that the safe(r) space policy is followed, it is imperative that the chairing process is not impeded.

2. Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable and will be challenged. This includes, but is not limited to: racism, ageism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, sexism, body-shaming, slut-shaming or ableism. Similarly, prejudice based on ethnicity, nationality, class, gender identity, gender presentation, language, ability, asylum status, political or religious affiliation will not be tolerated.

3. Respect each other’s physical and emotional boundaries. Always get explicit verbal consent before touching someone or crossing boundaries, regardless of the intentions behind the contact. Sexual harassment or sexual assault will lead to the perpetrator being banned from meetings and police involvement, if desired by the victim(s), will be fully supported. If you encounter any kind of harassment or assault please let us know, so that those responsible can be dealt with.

4. Be aware of the social space you occupy, as well as the positions and privileges you may be conveying, including racial, class and gender privilege. If a member of a liberation strand requests that you change your use of language regarding topics about their liberation strand, please be respectful and change your use of language. If you are unsure as to the reason your language was inappropriate or offensive, please politely contact the relevant liberation strand officers.

5. Avoid assuming the opinions and identifications of other participants. Examples include, but are not limited to, assumptions regarding sex, sexuality, gender identity, preferred personal pronouns, neurotypicality, able-bodied status, socio-economic background, political opinion, relationship model and religious beliefs.

6. Recognize that we try not to judge, put each other down or compete.

7. Be aware of the language you use in discussion and how you relate to others. Try to speak slowly, clearly and use uncomplicated language. Please do not applaud people as it impacts on the accessibility of events. If you are unsure of the terminology relating to another’s circumstances it is generally preferable to seek clarification, rather than risk using inaccurate or stereotyping terms.

8. The group endeavours as much as is feasible to ensure that meeting spaces are as accessible as possible to the widest range of people. Where it is allowed by the venue, there will be a supervised quiet/safe space room available at every event. In addition to this, if there has not been an access break in the previous 90 minutes, or if the atmosphere of a meeting has become counter-productive to reasoned discussion, then an access break of no less than 10 minutes must be taken by everyone, if requested by any one person.

9. Conferences, training events and workshops are alcohol- and illicit drug-free. There shall be no consumption of alcohol in the venue during the specified conference, training event or workshop times. Social events organised outside of these by NCAFC will allow the consumption of alcohol, unless stated otherwise by the event organisers.

10. Foster a spirit of mutual respect: listen to the wisdom everyone brings to the group and treat people with respect.

11. Give each person the time and space to speak. In large groups, or for groups using facilitation: use the approved hand signals to indicate you wish to speak. These hand signals will be clarified at the start of each discussion.

12. “Respect the person; challenge their behaviour.”: whilst a person’s behaviour may be problematic, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and their behaviour does not negate that fact.

13. Whilst ground rules are collective responsibility, everyone is also personally responsible for their own behaviour.

 

Challenging Bullying in the student movement

Notes:

1. A culture of bullying is rife throughout the NUS and its member unions, targeted at anyone who challenges established order.

Believes:

1. This culture puts the health of many student activists and the health of the student movement at risk.

2. This culture is not confined to any one faction or political aligment.

Resolves:

1. We will work to propose a constructive solution to the culture of bullying in the student movement

2. We will speak openly about bullying and its consequences

3. We will examine our own behaviour as individuals and a movement as a step to this openness.

 

Access at NCAFC Events

Notes

1 *That there are a number of disabled people, and people with access requirements that regularly attend, or might wish to attend NCAFC events

2 *That NCAFC currently has no accessibility policy

3 *That NCAFC Disabled Caucus ran a session on access needs during the liberation session, and took suggestions for what would be necessary from as many people as possible

Believes

1 *That more disabled people will feel comfortable attending NCAFC events if access information is made clear from the outset

2 *That access has been severely compromised at previous NCAFC events and this is not acceptable

Resolves

1 *To implement the following as standard for all NCAFC Events:

-A method of asking people to declare access needs when registering for the conference

-Documents (motions, timetable, any other documents) being released online as .doc and .pdf a week in advance of the conference to allow people time to print or prepare for them as necessary

-The venue being a location with accessible public transport links

-Information regarding whether the venue is wheelchair accessible to be released at the same time as the venue is released

-Access breaks of at least 15 minutes, at least every 90 minutes, to be standard, timetabled, and not to be voted on

-Explanation being given to all delegates regarding the inappropriate nature of clapping and whooping, and hand signals to be explained instead

-Explanation being given about why ableist language is no more acceptable than homophobic, transphobic, racist, or sexist language

2 *To attempt to implement the following at all NCAFC events, and inform attendees as early as possible if this cannot be implemented

-A timetable to be kept to exactly, without any unexpected changes, delays or alterations

-A microphone and hearing loop system, both to ensure people are able to hear the debate

-All venues to be fully wheelchair accessible, with ramps and lifts as necessary

-Members of the NC who can be approached for assistance to be easily visually identifiable

-All documents available on coloured paper or with coloured acetate overlays

-Sweets and water to be available on or near conference floor

-A quiet area to be present for people if they wish to leave conference floor

Mandates

1 *The NC to implement all of Resolves 1 for every further event

2 *The NC to attempt to implement Resolves 2 for every further event and inform attendees when this will not be possible

3 *The NC to look into the viability of a palantypist, sign interpretation, streaming, and large video screens of speakers for future events

4* Whomever is responsible for putting together a timetable to discuss it with the representative(s) of disabled caucus on the NC before it is released, to ensure it is accessible.

 

Developing the NCAFC

The NCAFC has now existed for almost three years. During that time the campaign has served an irreplaceable function as the only national left-wing student organisation uniting in struggle, on the basis of honest cooperation and an open democracy, activists with widely differing political views. This has allowed us to play a major role.

The British student movement is noticeably stronger than it was four years ago. However, compared to the upheavals of late 2010 and early 2011, there is a relative lull. It is vital that we use this space to solidify our organisation, reach out to wider layers of activists, step up our political agitation, education and self-education, and develop our campaigns.

It is important that we do not think of the student movement as just waiting for the next big bang. Even a much bigger organisation than ours currently is cannot create mass movements at will. None of us predicted the revolt of winter 2010-11 (though with hindsight we can see its precursors in the Gaza occupations of 2009 and the local anti-cuts battles of 2009-10); no one in Quebec predicted their 2012 student uprising. Major differences between the Quebecois student movement and ours not withstanding, the lesson from Quebec is that ASSE built a solid organisation active in many campaigns and undertaking many initiatives during the quieter periods, creating the conditions for the upheaval, playing a central role in its victory – and developing its organisation out of the struggle.

What we need to do is help student activists Educate, Agitate and Organise around a range of issues, developing our ideas, organisation and campaigns on a variety of levels.

Some of what we need to do will be dealt with in other motions. But over the next sixth months development of the NCAFC should include:

1. On an organisational level: a better functioning, more regularly meeting National Committee, which creates subcommittees and working groups to research and organise on a variety of issues; a proper system of affiliations by local groups, student unions etc; and a concerted drive to extend our network of contact with local groups.
2. Seeking to develop broad, non-sectarian, united student anti-cuts/mobilising committees on every campus, with a focus on fighting cuts and privatisation and making links with campus workers as they resist the squeeze on their pay, terms and conditions which seems to be the main feature of management attacks this year.
3. Relaunching and developing existing campaigns such as Take Back Your Campus and the VC Pledge.
4. Developing campaigns on issues which affect or interest large numbers of students, but are currently neglected by the organised student left, such as housing and the NHS.
5. Building a solid network of FE and school student activists through Schools and Colleges Against Fees and Cuts.
6. Develop the work with and among international students done in the last months.
7. Running a political campaign on who should pay for free education and to rebuild education and public services, focused on two key demands: tax the rich/business and expropriate the banks.
8. Producing more and better NCAFC materials.

9. Extending and developing our international links.
10. Producing materials on the content, purpose and control of education under the title “Education for Liberation”.

 

• Student Worker Motion

This Conference Notes:

  1. A NUS survey noted – “The overwhelming majority of students, three out of four, take on paid employment to help make ends meet, either during term time or during the holidays. Holiday work is more popular than term time work, with 51 per cent of students planning to work during the holidays” (NUS Student Experience Report, 2008, p.33).
  2. These forms of employment are usually unskilled, low paid and casualised such as within bar or retail work.
  3. The “Supersize My Pay” campaign from the UNITE union in New Zealand which broke legal minimum wage discrimination that existed for the minimum waged young workers as well as the recent Wal-Mart and fast food industrial actions in the USA.
  4. Progress already made by the GMB Trade Union Southern Region Young Members, Royal Holloway University and the University of London Union (ULU) in establishing student worker networks and the successes particularly at Royal Holloway already of winning conditions for students and fighting for recognition with the student union there.

 

This Conference Believes:

  1. That we must begin to help organise students who work on campus and elsewhere not just for better conditions, but as a fundamentally political activity, one that can equip students when they leave university with the skills in their workplaces to fight back but also be part of transforming the labour movement in the here and now.
  2. That NCAFC wherever it is present needs to be part of the argument that students should see themselves as workers: that education we receive is the product of labour, from cleaners, admins to lecturers etc. and to join with these workers for better conditions for all.

 

This Conference Resolves:

  1. To help co-sponsor a speaking tour in the new year of a Wal-Mart and/or fast food striking worker around the UK.
  2. To support circulation in print and online of “Know Your Rights” material to disseminate everywhere NCAFC has a presence in a similar way to ULU.
  3. To advertise online and in print all efforts towards establishing student worker networks and task the incoming national committee to discussions with local Trade Union branches – holding recruitment days on campus, running workshops etc.
  4. Encourage all students not in employment to be involved with initiatives to unionise and organise the unemployed, including but not limited to the UNITE community branches. The incoming national committee should contact and begin discussions with UNITE and other such initiatives on how this can be done.

 

Defend the NHS!

Conference notes
1. The battles taking place on many fronts to defend the NHS from the Tories’ attempts to dismember it.
2. The recent springing up of many more powerful local campaigns, including for instance the battle to save Lewisham A&E, which has seen many thousands of people on the streets.
3. That many students are active in, and many more interested in and could become involved in, this struggle.

Conference believes
1. That the NHS represents a limited piece of the what Marx called “the political economy of the working class”, putting the interests of human beings before the interests of profit – like our demand for free education in public, democratic education system.
2. That the NCAFC needs to mobilise students in defence of public services and the welfare state beyond education, and that this is a crucial part of that fight.

Conference resolves
1. To produce a guide to the issues surrounding the NHS and how students can become active campaigning to defend it.
2. To investigate organising a student day or week of action in defence of the NHS.
3. To approach organisations including the medical student network Medsin, BMA Students, Keep Our NHS Public and the NHS Unity Network to organise a joint campaign.
4. To add our name to the statement to rebuild the NHS being circulated by the NHS Unity Network (see below).

***

Labour: rebuild the NHS!

We are campaigning for the Labour Party to develop and fight for the policy on the NHS agreed by its conference, and for the next Labour government to carry it out.

Numerous Constituency Labour Parties submitted policy to the 2012 party conference calling for a clear commitment to repealing the Tories’ Health and Social Care Act, reversing privatisation and marketisation, and restoring the NHS as a public service. The conference passed a composite resolution based on these motions unanimously.

We welcome commitment to repeal the Act, but reject arguments against top down reorganisation. The Health and Social Care Act represented a comprehensive reorganisation to subordinate the NHS to market forces. We want a comprehensive reorganisation of the health service in order to save and restore it.

We want a return to the founding principles of the NHS: quality healthcare for all on the basis of need, as a right, in a publicly owned, publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable system. To achieve that, we will campaign for and demand Labour campaigns for:

1. Repeal of the Health and Social Care Act
2. Abolition of the new provision allowing 49 percent private beds in NHS hospitals
3. Restoration of the Secretary of State’s duty to provide a comprehensive service
4. NHS organisations to be the preferred provider of care in all cases
5. Reversal of the Tories’ funding cuts and provision of adequate funding
6. Abolition of the obscenely wasteful and inefficient internal market/purchaser-provider split
7. Replacement of PFI, also obscenely wasteful, with direct funding; write off existing PFI debt
8. Halting and reversal of privatisation and outsourcing at every level
9. Abolition of Foundation Trusts, replacement of CCGs by democratic local health authorities
10. Decent, national pay, terms and conditions and pensions for NHS workers, and a democratic voice for them in how the service is run.

We reject the argument that there is no money in society to pay for restoring the health service. The NHS was created at a time when British society as a whole was much poorer than now. Taxation of rising dividend payments and the incomes of the rich, and using the wealth of the nationalised banks for social purposes, are potentially rich sources of funds. In addition, abolishing market mechanisms and PFI would save many billions.

We will work with comrades in the Labour Party, health workers’ organisations, the broader trade union movement and NHS campaigners to defend our health service and fight for these policies.

 

 

Bring Back EMA!

Conference believes:

 

1.  The scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) was a grave error.

2.  This scrapping of the EMA was done is spite of Michael Gove, now-Education Secretary famously saying in early 2010 before the general election: “Ed Balls keeps saying that we are committed to scrapping the EMA. I have never said this. We won’t.”

3.  EMA allowed students from some of the poorest families to access Further Education, and its abolition has had a hugely detrimental impact, hitting young women and Black students particularly hard.

4.  Evidence from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, found that the EMA increased the proportion of young people who stayed in education from 65% to 69% among 16-year-olds and from 54% to 61% among 17-year-olds.

5. Our fight for social justice and accessible public education is not conditional on its “benefiting the economy” or “being good for growth”.

6. EMA has continued in Wales, albeit in a diminished form, and remains an invaluable part of support for college students

7. Indications from Welsh Labour and from the Labour Party nationally both show a long-standing intent to stop EMA in Wales when the school leaving age is raised to 18.

8. EMA has been secured in Wales through 2014

9. The Welsh Government has instead decided to take the lead on privatising & marketising colleges in Wales

 

 

Conference further believes:

 

1.  EMA wasn’t scrapped without a fight. An enormous, spontaneous FE student uprising took on the government in 2010 to demand EMA was saved. Despite hundreds of thousands of students protesting, occupying and walking out of their colleges this Tory-led government ignored a generation.

2.  But the government also radicalised a generation and the anger over the scrapping of the EMA remains.

3. That while the scrapping of EMA was a terrible thing, and an attack on working class students, it would be a mistake simply to call for the reintroduction of something that was never good enough in the first place.
4. Simply saying something easy and populist is not the way to win a serious political campaign. We need a better and broader analysis of FE policy
5. If we call only for the reinstatement of EMA we are letting down everyone who has been hit by other cuts in FE, which are less glib to talk about.
6. We call for living grants for all students: this includes FE
7. The 2010 student occupations in Wales were specifically cited by the Welsh Government in explaining their decision to continue EMA

8. Other grants in Wales have however been cut

9. Youth Fight for Jobs Wales, Action Against Cuts Cardiff, Aberystwyth Radical Forum and other anti-cuts groups in Wales advocate opposition to all cuts to public sector jobs and services

10. Campaigning around single issues in isolation is less effective than coherent, broad campaigns with the ultimate goal of a democratically-run socialist education system.
Resolves:
1. To do our homework on school and FE funding policy, and produce a detailed set of analyses and demands
2. To call for living grants for students – not simply the reinstatement of EMA

3. To invite activists from the Wales anti-cuts movement to write a guest blog for NCAFC detailing their success in defending EMA

4. To continue opposition to all cuts and public criticism of all elected officials who vote for cuts

5. To integrate campaigning to save EMA into a broad and coherent strategy around college students, including but not limited to: building fighting college students’ unions; opposing privatisation & marketisation; opposing market-driven mergers and cuts in courses and lecturers; resisting all fees in education; and more things that I don’t have time to list since the amendments deadline is in 2 minutes

6. To have more time to submit amendments next year

 

The labour movement and free education

 

Conference notes

1. That almost all trade unions have policy for free education.
2. That the Labour Party’s policy to reduce fees from £9k to £6k was not decided democratically by any Labour Party body, but – like so much Labour Party policy – made up by the leadership.

Conference believes
1. That even the incredibly limited promises the Labour leadership has made are unlikely to fulfilled without a fight.
2. That it is necessary for the labour movement and student movement to make clear demands on the Labour Party and the next Labour government.
3. That this is not at all counterposed to our fundamental method of struggle on our campuses and in the streets. The point is not to politely petition Ed Miliband, but to seek to bring pressure to bear through every possible channel.
4. That in the first instance this means seeking clear policy on education in the unions, and demanding they seek to impose this policy on/in Labour.

Conference resolves
1. To work with labour movement activists to seek to establish a “Trade unions for free education” coalition.
2. To approach left-wingers in Young Labour including LRC Youth about organising a joint campaign to demand the Labour Party changes its policies on education.
3. To produce a manifesto for education and seek to win support for it in the labour movement.

 

Student housing

 

NCAFC notes
1. That prices for student accommodation have doubled in the last ten years, with average weekly rent being £117.69.
2. That this is partly because of an increased use of private accommodaiton.
3. That student support (grants/loans) only just covers the cost of rent and leaves almost nothing for actual living.
4. That this has forced many students into finding (mostly low-paid, precarious) work and/or taking out large commercial bank loans.
5. That NUS has produced materials on this issue, but neither radical demands nor a visible campaign.
NCAFC believes
1. That accommodation quality and costs are in reality as much of an issue for students as fees, and need to be campaigned on.
2. That we should, minimally, be demanding rents which cover the cost of running accommodation but do not make a huge profit for the landowner/company.3. That this will require both local campaigns and national coordination with a clear set of demands.
NCAFC resolves
1. To produce a campaign pack on campaigning over the issue of housing, including a charter of basic demands – including the demand that absolutely no one should pay over £100 a week.
2. To encourage supporting anticuts groups and SUs to campaign on this issue.
3. To raise this issue in motions to NUS conference.
4. To link demands around student housing to broader questions of the cost of private rented accommodation, the lack of council housing, access to and level of Housing Benefit and other benefits etc.

 

Abolish all debt

 

Conference Believes

  1. Personal debt in the UK stands at £1.412 trillion, an average of £53,706 per household
  2. Student debts under the new fees regime will mean an automatic debt of £27,000 – for a home/EU student on an undergraduate course in England (and £36,000 in Scotland). Once living costs are taken into account, this may well come to over £50,000
  3. Postgraduate and international students take on vast sums of debt and frequently support their studies with commercial loans
  4. The past few years has seen a significant increase in loan sharks and pay day loans targeting students.
  5. Abject poverty, lack of access to basic things like food, shelter and wearable clothes, is not uncommon for some students – especially those with no support from home or parents.
  6. A large proportion of students are forced to take on part time work – if they can get it – to cover their living costs.
  7. Debt is a cause of mental health problems, and of suicide. On 4th December the Huffington Post reported the death of a 23 year old unemployed graduate.

Conference Further Believes

  1. Debt is a major source of misery and poverty for a huge proportion of the population in modern society
  2. Debt is a class issue: it purchases our time, committing us to work longer and harder, while the profits of our work are enjoyed only by a privileged elite.
  3. The call for abolition of student debt is sound and would find serious support among students
  4. The call for abolition of student debt is capable of serving a broader struggle against the present arrangement of society: it could be the tip of the iceberg for a much bigger campaign for the abolition of all debt.

Conference Resolves

  1. To make the abolition of student debt a major political priority
  2. To produce articles and materials on the politics of debt and connected issues
  3. To make debt an issue for any Activist Welfare activities that we undertake

 

 

The Left and NUS

Conference Resolves

1. To work towards a united left intervention at NUS Conference that involves common themes and a slate for the NUS Elections

 

 

 

Emergency motion – support the student movement in Sri Lanka!

Notes
1. That since 28 November teachers and students in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, have been on strike against the arrest of leading Tamil activists at their university, including three senior figures from the SU.
2. That the students were brutally attacked by government paramilities that have set up in an office opposite the university.
3. That last months police and intelligence officers invaded the university, breaking into and ransacking student rooms. When MPs and prominent journalists visited the scene, they were also attacked – as were the 400 students who marched in protest.
3. That all this follows a systematic pattern of repression against Tamils which has been going on since the defeat of Tamil nationalists by the Sri Lankan military in 2009.

Resolves
1. To support the protesters in Jaffna and send a message of solidarity from this conference.
2. To send a message of protest to the Sri Lankan High Commission.
3. To seek to make links with student activists in Sri Lanka