By Tania Chakraborti
The NUS conference was temporarily suspended today following a protest by delegates angry that there was no time to debate issues related to abortion and sex work in Northern Ireland.
A motion to extend time for debate saw a majority amongst delegates, but not enough to reach the 2/3 requirement. This prevented the welfare issues being debated further.
Incensed attendees took to the stage at around 4pm, chanting “Solidarity forever, ’cause the Union makes us strong.”
The demonstration and subsequent suspension of the Glasgow conference until 7pm drew mixed response. Tom Harwood, NUS Delegate for Durham University told Palatinate that the protest and its effects show “that the NUS remains an expensive, self-aggrandising farce.”
The former President of the Durham Union Society continued: “The extreme left still hold a grip over the organisation, so much that they shut down the organisation when they don’t get their way.
“Personally, I’m with them on the two issues they’re getting upset over, but to many who shut down the conference this was about a lot more than individual motions.
“The childish antics at the conference today will make many students realise that they have outgrown this ridiculous organisation.”
Fellow NUS Delegate for Durham, Helen Paton, also told Palatinate: “On a national level, students genuinely don’t care about the NUS unless you are an activist.
“Things like this make headlines, and the NUS is not having good headlines.
“Shame that a movement that could actually help students has converted itself into a joke from people within.
“Conference was running smoothly…but when (it) continues it will be distracted by this division between the people that took to the stage and everyone else”.
The NUS have since tweeted on the issue. In a statement to delegates regarding the changes to the schedule, the NUS said that “Fringes will still take place at 6pm as planned, followed by conference floor re-opening at 7pm with a revised agenda. Thank you for your patience.”
Earlier today, incumbent NUS President, Shakira Martin was re-elected with 51% of the vote.
Photograph by Helen Paton, Video: Tom Harwood