Prove your humanity

Tuesday started strong (or loud) with the Student Unity faction chanting “We have the numbers!”; the numbers being that they have majority on the conference floor. However, NLS weren’t so convinced so a campus count was called. Yet this campus count was ultimately flawed as delegate proxies were locked out and the count did not reflect the true numbers. In saying so, Student Unity officially became the majority faction. On the agenda were motions about unionism and student welfare.

A motion that every faction agreed upon was the banning of filming the conference. For student media, Grok included, this was a real disappointment. All student media values transparency and accountability, yet consistently this seems to be put to the back burner. Perhaps it is because if the factions were filmed the world would be appalled at how they behave during sessions.

There were a lot of motions supported by the Socialist Alternative which were not carried. These related to NUS supporting civil disobedience and mobilising students for climate action in the form of protests. Also, a motion to actively reject age based wages was passed. The conference then ended discussions on unionism and moved on to student welfare. This was a particularly straight forward round as most factions tended to agree on the same issues. Motions were grouped together to be discussed at the same time. Motions that passed dealt with issues regarding unpaid or low paying labour, student housing, financial education and access to student services. All motions regarding student welfare were passed quickly and promptly.

It was around 4pm when the gnawing NUS hunger must have started to set in, because a motion was put forth by Student Unity about Deakin University’s “sausage crisis.” Essentially, this motion was about getting better working barbeques for campus sausage sizzles. This motion caused a lot of hullabaloo and all factions except Unity voted against. However, because Unity hold majority, the motion still passed.

Some Curtin Guild representatives, such as Bridge Truell, Jesse Zambrano, Chris Hall and Hana Arai, got up to speak for better student housing, on-campus blood drives and effective pill-testing. The rest of the afternoon and early evening was filled with motions discussing ethnic-centric issues. A lot of the debate consisted of the Socialist Alternative calling Student Unity racist and turning the discussion to climate change. However, many of the motions had very little to do with students and was more about the public condemnation, by NUS, of tragic hate crimes. It was a heated few hours that had a potent underlining of distaste for the far-right, which Unity was lumped into even though they are Labor.

By the end of the night, education motions were on the table. A big issue discussed was whether NUS—which is funded by student money—should pay for the legal fees of student climate activists. This motion was backed by Socialist Alternative, but the rest of conference voted a hard no and the motion failed. Unfortunately, this Grok reporter lost track of which education motion was being discussed as NLS and Socialist Alternative stood from their chairs to take the fight to each other. Shouting and screaming, the conference room fell into chaos as both factions seemed to be getting ready for a good old fashioned punch out. But the speaker managed to calm everyone down and return to their seats. Many of the education motions related to students’ right to protest, anti-corporate universities and securing jobs for university staff. The rest of the motions will battle it out today.

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