Breaking: Chaos at NUS conference as 150 protesters occupy stage and hall is cleared
We have reached peak NUS
Over 150 delegates at the NUS National Conference in Glasgow have stormed the stage in protest over excessive bureaucracy and a lack of time for important motions, and the conference hall has been cleared.
The YouTube live stream of the conference has been cut off, and all media observers, including The Tab's reporters at the conference, on the balcony have been made to leave the conference hall.
One delegate told The Tab that people are "frustrated and angered" with the progress of conference, which another called "an outrageous display of manipulation and bureaucracy".
Protesters took to the stage at 3pm, managing to completely fill it and remain there. All NUS delegates still on the conference floor, and not on the stage, have also been made to leave the SEC Armadillo auditorium for "health and safety reasons".
— Alex Doyle UPSU (@UPSU_activities) March 28, 2018
Protesters took to the stage in anger at missing important motions as debates roll on, however the conference has now been closed as those inside are made to leave the hall. Debates and elections were scheduled to end for the day later in the evening.
One of the stage occupiers, Alex Doyle, Plymouth SU's Activities Officer, told The Tab: "Everyone's very frustrated and angered.
"Welfare is one of the most important zones for students and it's had no attention."
Large portions of the first day of conference were spent debating whether to call for a second Brexit referendum or not, and now students are aggrieved that motions on abortion in Northern Ireland and supporting student sex workers may fall by the wayside.
I’m proudly supporting the protest as to the right to debate Student Sex Workers and for abortion in Northern Ireland. We passed 1 motion out of 16 in this conference. How outrageous is that. #NUSConference #NUSNC18
— Peter Gillibrand 🏴 (@Pete_Gillibrand) March 28, 2018
The protesters have been loudly chanting "solidarity forever", and showing their appreciation with jazz hands – the NUS's preferred method of not making too much noise.
One delegate has left the protest for counselling in the well-being zone, whilst another emerged in tears.
Breaking ranks, Lincoln's NUS delegates have condemned the protest, calling it "undemocratic".
Inside the hall, negotiations are underway. Meanwhile, those outside the hall, 90 minutes after the occupation started, have been told to make themselves comfortable.
Update: After nearly two hours, the occupation is ending
Negotiations between the protesters and Vice Presidents Amatey Doku and Ali Milani have ended with the protesters leaving. They agreed on no ramifications for protestors, and a meeting of the NEC within 2 weeks to vote on those two motions.
Rhal Ssan, a delegate from Warwick, who was on the stage, but only to observe, told The Tab: “The way they went about it wasn’t the best way they could,” but “the vast majority of people would support the two motions.
He says “The leadership of the NUS were quick to give concessions to them,” however, ironically, as the group got sidetracked by debating other things, “it got out of hand."
Angus Satow, a delegate from Cambridge University who has been doing press on behalf of the occupiers, told The Tab: “Over 150 students occupied stage at NC in protest at a frankly outrageous display of manipulation and bureaucracy in which only one motion out of 16 was voted on in the welfare zones."
"This meant that important motions around abortion rights in NI and on decriminalising sex work went unheard. Students and Students' Unions up and down the country didn’t get their voices heard. Instead, there were endless procedural motions and manipulation from the chair.
"The NUS has agreed to an apology, and for these motions to go to the National Executive Council. Thankfully, there has been a semblance of democracy within the NUS."
"We regret that we had to take such steps, but they were necessary to have democracy triumphant."
"We need to be fundamentally rethinking how NUS conference works."
In a statement released by the occupiers, Beth Douglas, NUS LGBT+ Officer (Women’s Place) said "We started this occupation after the those who tried to block these motions with bureaucracy and filibustering. Student sex workers are being deported, expelled for Universities and Colleges, and being chucked out of their accommodation.
"Now more than ever students are facing more debt and rising costs and more students are turning to sex work. NUS’ own research states that 1 in 20 students have been involved in sex work. It’s time for NUS to stand up for student sex workers, debate this and campaign for decriminalisation."
Update: Conference will re-open at 7pm
The NUS conference will re-open at 7pm, four hours after it was forced to close by the protest.
Updates to follow as we get them.