NUS sit-in disrupts congress

By Simon Friend, January 22, 2009

A meeting held this week to ratify the latest National Union of Students’ governance and reform structures was disrupted by a sit-in from 20 members of the student National Executive Council as a protest against Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

The interruption followed a week of “Stop the War” rallying on many university campuses around the country. The meeting, held at Wolverhampton Civic Hall, was attended by 500 students. Up to 100 walked out following the protest and many of those remaining turned their backs on the demonstrators.

The protest came after NUS President Wes Streeting established that the union had a policy of remaining unbiased regarding the conflict, to avoid alienating any body of students in the UK. Last week Mr Streeting acknowledged that NUS “cannot speak with one voice on the complexities of this conflict”.

Joel Braunold, a member of the NEC and former president of Bristol University JSoc, said: “It is disappointing that a contentious international and political issue can be used to try to distract the NUS membership from important internal reforms, hijacking and intimidating an entire conference.”

In a note published on Facebook, Mr Streeting said: “I can only apologise for the closing hour of the conference and the platform the protestors were given. Today’s behaviour was nothing short of a disgrace.”

Last updated: 12:44pm, January 22 2009