Sick of student unions?

Do you feel represented? I don’t. Zamzam Ibrahim is the president elect of the National Union of Students (NUS). Her job is to represent all UK students in higher and further education. But she’s come under fire for stating she wanted to ‘oppress white people’ and ‘have an Islamic takeover’, comments she made when she was 16.

Admittedly it’s unfair to judge someone on statements they made seven years ago. In an article for The Independent Ibrahim said as much: ‘I was just 16 years old. I was struggling with my view of the world and my place in it. I was grappling with the deep injustices I could see around me and trying to figure out how I could make the world a better place.’

If this was all there was, I’d be happy for her to represent me as a student. If this was all there was, I’d trust her to act fairly and treat everyone equally.

Then I had a look at her Twitter. During the 2018 World Cup, she implied anyone who sang ‘It’s Coming Home’ was racist. Now I don’t think she meant it, but it’s easy to put your foot in your mouth when you’re unnecessarily commenting on something. Furthermore, just like many previous NUS presidents she has supported a boycott of Israel. After her election the Union of Jewish Students said they hoped she would continue the NUS’ work of supporting the fight against anti-Semitism.

The NUS is in a tricky position. It has struggled with allegations of anti-Semitism, bullying, and plagiarism in the last three years. At the moment Ibrahim’s election doesn’t seem like a step in the right direction.

Student politics in general is becoming problematic. Students have criticised uea(su) for poor mental health support, increasing ticket prices, and of course for cancelling Pimp My Barrow.

I’m not sure student politics is even worthwhile anymore. Yes, the concept of having representation to protect students’ interests makes sense. I’m happy to see we have it, but at the same time, if they’re not going to protect our interests, and instead just perpetuate nothingness or call us racists, what’s the point of them? We might as well not even bother.


About Author

Matt Branston

Comment Editor - 2019/20

Co-Deputy Editor - 2020/21

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May 2022
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