A conference starting at 12pm and finishing around 2am.
One is not allowed to film or photograph it.
Fights and protests are guaranteed.
Social media posts suggest it is one big piss-up, or as Honi Soit has dubbed it “Hack Schoolies.”
This is the National Union of Students National Conference or #NUSNatcon.
The conference which is attended mostly by student politicians debates policy and determines the executive for the following year.
The week long conference which finished yesterday saw UNSW Student Sophie Johnston as the NUS President for 2017. She is a member of National Labor Students.
In what is supposed to be a democratic vote, it is evident that backroom deals determined the 2017 executive prior to the vote.
Delegates at NUS are usually affiliated with one of the five factions which attend the conference this being Student Unity (SU), National Labor Students (NLS), Socialist Alternative (SAlt), National Independents (IND) and The Australian Liberal Students (ALSF). There are also a number of unaligned delegates.*
— Martin Ditmann (@martinditmann) December 5, 2016
As the above tweet shows, Student Unity was the most represented this year, followed by NLS. Being a union it is to be expected that its members are primarily from the Labor Party.
NUS is one of the only national student bodies and therefore receives a great deal of SSAF funding. Students in the Liberal Party are quick to point out NUS does not represent them.
In 2016, the NUS received $477,755 in affiliation fees #nusnatcon
— Jessy Wu (@jessywu95) December 12, 2016
*A number of statistics place the IND and unaligned candidates together. Curieux has decided to separate this as is the case in the official running sheet of the conference.
In the past the #NUSNatcon has been criticised for focussing on policy which is not at all relevant to students. This includes a fierce debate on Israel and Palestine in 2015.
And whilst positions regarding Trump/Pence have been discussed at this year’s conference, student policies have been the main focus.
“They don’t deserve a cent: why we hate Vice-Chancellors” is just one of many motions carried relevant to the students.
However, other motions affecting students include more textbooks in the library, HECS help for entrance exams, the abolition of unpaid internships and fighting cuts and closures on regional campuses.
Some of the biggest changes are the constitutional ones.
There were changes made to the referendum for withdrawing from NUS. The referendum must now be open to all students, campaigning must be allowed and the RO must be independent. This is likely in light of the referendum which took place at the University of Wollongong which has been condemned by NUS.
Unsurprisingly five of the six constitutional changes were moved by Student Unity. The National Independents moved five motions with only one successful one.
Only one hour was given in total to discuss LGBTI and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues.
Terry Watson, the sole UC representative at the conference has been named NUS’s University of Canberra representative and also had success with a motion he moved to engage with small and regional campuses and encourage affiliation.
#nusnatcon has just passed a suite of policy (including policy I moved) to better support small and Regional campuses. Good stuff!
— Terry Watson (@TerrenceAWatson) December 12, 2016