Shakira Martin, 28, is the current NUS Vice President Further Education, she defines herself as a black single mother from a working class family. She has two children and talked about how further education had been a lifeline not just for her but for her family.
Speaking after the other two candidates, Malia Bouattia and Tom Harwood, Shakira positioned herself as a centrist candidate and talked about a new NUS focussing on the 7 million members, instead of the presidential candidate. Shakira’s campaign focussed on the difference education and students’ unions can make to individuals lives, drawing on her experience as a single working class mother entering education to create new opportunities for herself and her young family. Her election speech focussed on creating a student movement that “listens, learns, and leads”, to enable more students to access the movement, and benefit from the opportunities the student movement provides.
Shakira Martin says:
“I am honoured and humbled to have been elected as NUS’ National President. I take this as a vote of trust that our members believe I can lead our national movement to be the fighting and campaigning organisation we need it to be, representing the breadth of our diverse membership. Further Education made me who I am today and look forward to sharing stories of just how powerful all forms of education can be when we’re all given access to it. During my term in office I want to spend my time listening, learning and leading.”
Other candidates for NUS President 2017/18 were:
Malia Bouattia, 29, the current NUS President who will be leading NUS into the general election. Malia has made tackling hate crime the focus of her presidency opposing racism and fascism in all its forms. In an emotional election speech she talked about the death threats and harassment she has faced as President. Malia was NUS’ first Muslim woman president, born in Algeria. Her family were forced to flee during the civil war when she was 7 years old. Having been denied refugee status, her family of five shared one room when they arrived in the UK. NUS applauds Malia’s work to make the movement more diverse, ensuring the organisation is representative of the students it represents.
This is the first time NUS has had two black women contesting the president election, cementing its position as being a bell weather for change in society. Candidates presented different visions for education. Malia Bouattia’s campaign focussed on strengthening grassroots student activism while continuing to engage with decision makers at a national level. Malia also prioritised empowering students to diversify their curriculums – ensuring that every student feels represented in the subject they choose to study.
Tom Harwood, 20, is a politics student at Durham University. Tom is the president of the Durham Union Society, a debating club at Durham University. Tom had previously run the ‘Students For Britain’ campaign during the EU referendum, encouraging students to vote for Brexit.
Over 1200 students, elected officers and campaigners from higher and further education, including apprentices, from across the UK are spending this week in Brighton to debate and decide on key policy issues affecting students.
National Conference is the sovereign policy-making body of NUS and its purpose is to discuss, debate and vote on motions and elect the political leadership of the organisation for the year ahead. Elections taking place include National President, the five Vice President positions and the Block of 15 all of which sit on the National Executive Council.