Summarizing the last 4 weeks

I sat for a long time thinking of what to name this blog entry, and i really have no idea…maybe inspiration will come as I write.

This last month has been the HARDEST most exhaustive, physically, emotionally and mentally draining time I have ever been through. To put it shortly, I went through a grueling and intense two weeks of Heriot-Watt elections, only to finish them and bounce onto a week of 4 deadlines for coursework over 5 days, attend a concert in Newcastle throw in a whole ton of shifts at both my jobs and then finally a whole weekend running ANOTHER election at NUS Scotland conference at only days ago. I can assure you I have slept little in the last few weeks, and the sleep I have had has been mostly from the couch.

I am not complaining though, It was completely worth it. The challenges, the intensity and the adrenaline buzz of all my elections (and of course winning them) spurred me on and made it totally worth it. I won’t lie some were easier than others, I was the underdog in my most recent one .Each one made me challenge myself and the fantastic candidates I stood against.

So what does all of this “boring” political stuff mean I hear you shout. Well firstly I have been re-elected on the Exec team at Heriot-Watt, meaning I will be challenging, campaigning, shaping policy and generally annoying and talking to students at a local level over the next year. On a national scale I was just elected (in the hardest election I have ever fought in) Education campaign convenor for NUS Scotland that is me doing all the things i previously just stated but at a national level and very much more in the public eye of the “student political landscape”. I can assure you it is as daunting and terrifying (but as exciting) as it sounds.

I was going to post this in the days after conference closed (NO JAMIE T KINLOCHAN I DID NOT STEAL YOUR IDEA).
After I had time to reflect and of course CAUGHT SOME SLEEP. I now feel much better, well rested and starting to process the manic 2 days of motions, events, meet and greets, arguments and of course elections.

We rightly re-elected Robin J Parker as NUS Scotland president for the coming year (though hats off to Charandeep Singh and his challenging and excellent campaign and the passion he ignited in his campaign team). I am looking forward to working with Robin in the coming term and Charandeep will go on to do amazing things I am sure.

We as a movement achieved huge wins this year, from little wins on our local campus of HW (£3000 bursaries for Rest of Uk students comes to mind?) to national wins (11.4 million pound cut reversal) by the Scottish government on college support funding, a phenomenal win. Something I can’t even articulate into the difference that makes to students to come.

I think the point of this post will be to highlight things I never got to say in my speech (that is what happens when you write a 4 minute speech and only get two minutes come elections!!!).

Firstly even with the extra funding last year, (well technically this year) colleges im Edinburgh alone had a total of £200,000 in support needed and not given, which equates to 85 students who were knocked back for support. That money came out of college pockets (discretionary funds) funds that will be sucked dry in the coming year with mergers and regional-isation (I’m making up words deal with it).

So yes what a win, but We need to lobby and fight for bigger wins, more investment and if nothing else that funding is maintained for every year a student wants to study, and if it isn’t then I think we should be taking “life long learning” out of Mike Russell’s title because a cut to that funding would be a direct attack on everything that phrase means.

We will have to get real on widening access, push the government to legislate it and get the universities to really work on this, cause right now it isn’t enough. (I could write a whole blog about that But I won’t, you will hear plenty more about this in the future people.

Communication was the big one I never got to in my speech, SEC needs to be more effective for the CM’s this coming year, and that all starts with better communication, whether that’s a quick appearance at an ESF (Edinburgh students forum if your CM’S are Edinburgh), or just regular phone calls and emails. Each member of SEC have other responsibilities, but if we all make a strong effort to pick each other up, push each other and challenge ourselves and others we will be a long way to building on what came before us.

I think another important thing is to remember that no matter who won or lost elections is that many students(including myself) said they would stay just as involved with NUS and fighting for students no matter the outcome. A testament to how amazing everyone is.

A few last things before I wrap this up. Firstly a HUGE thanks to my family who accepted and supported me in every decision I have made, even though they didn’t understand all of them, and the fact they gave me unconditional love and encouragement about how proud they were regardless of any of the results (which luckily all went in my favour).
To my amazing friends, who have had to listen to me talk in nothing but campaign mode for the last 2 months!( Chris, Craig you are the greatest flatmates a guy can ask for). To everyone who listened, challenged and voted for me in any and all of the elections, especially at conference because I really had to work my ass off to convince some truly fantastic student officers I was the one who should be in my newly elected position, and somehow I did it. A massive shout out to Stacey Devine, a true fireball, passionate dedicated, unrelenting force I feel sorry for anyone who crosses her, but equally loves how she will challenge anyone who wants to go there and usually wins ;). without her support over the weekend I don’t think I would have had the conviction to plough to carry on at points. To Graeme Kirkpatrick and his utter professionalism, guidance, advice and encouragement in the months leading up to the elections and of course Mike Ross and my Exec team who constantly present me with new challenges which we overcome together, they have helped shape me into being able to hold my own at conference (even if i want to tear mine and their hair out most of the time).

Lastly I am so proud of everything I and everyone I know has achieved this year, from the massive strides at HW (winning union of the year is a testament to that). The national wins that collectively every officer and volunteer in Scotland should take pride in.

A tough year lies ahead of us, we still have NUSUK conference still to come, and then many mandates and motions to work through and of course anything the government decides to throw at us!

We are still riding a year of Highs and big wins, passion and enthusiasm from the conference that has just happened. I have every faith we can take that passion, dedication, ideas and drive to smash another defining year in the movement, in both local and national Ideas. So challenge me, challenge SEC and the full-time officers. It is YOUR NUS, you are the change and you have power. Be involved, I will see you all in the year to come.

passion love and dedication.
Massive love and respect to everyone.

Conor Murray-Gauld

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~ by conorstrife on March 6, 2012.

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