By Émer O’Toole, News Editor
The National Union of Students (NUS) elected Megan Dunn, current vice-president for higher education, as the president of the organisation on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old defeated her only opponent, Beth Redmond- a “revolutionary socialist feminist” at the NUS annual conference by 413 votes to 202. 79 delegates voted to re-open nominations.
Dunn will succeed Toni Pearce later this year.
Dunn’s proposals included more student engagement, further education funding and what she describes as “the cost of living crisis” facing students.
Addressing the conference in Liverpool on Wednesday, Dunn spoke about student inclusion:
“We must stop treating our members as if one size fits all. We need to get better at not only expecting our liberation campaigns to be having difficult conversations because campuses are actually the best places to have these.”
The politics and international relations Master’s graduate and former president of Aberdeen University Students’ Association, stood as an independent but was expected to gain the support of the powerful Labour Students group.
Dunn said: “We should have a conversation about what this movement means to us because if I don’t how can you trust me to change students’ lives?
Sometimes making change involves shouting from the rooftops but sometimes we need to just get down off our soapboxes and do the work.
I want to put more effort into supporting campus unions, and transforming our national movement to support the work that you do… the NUS should be a movement that supports local voices and represents them nationally.”
This differed from Redmond’s approach, who was backed by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.
Redmond, 22, spoke of her support for occupation movements at UK universities, and said that she wanted an NUS that fought for an end to austerity as opposed to one that “sleepwalks while attacks are raining down.”
Leon French, a Conservative Party member and final year student at Hull University, took himself out of the running prior to the election.
French criticised the NUS’ “Liar Liar” campaign aimed at unseating 38 MPs who broke a pledge made before the last election to stop tuition fee rises.
He said there was “no point” trying to gain votes when “they’ve already decided.” Almost all of the MPs targeted in the campaign were Liberal Democrats.
Sorana Vieru, currently the Postgraduate Education Officer at Bristol University’s Students’ Union, was elected Vice President for Higher Education.
She won against Poppy Wilkinson, president of the University of Birmingham’s Guild of Students’ and Hattie Craig, a veteran of three campus occupations at Birmingham.
Vieru, a former Birmingham student, encouraged delegates to elect a Romanian immigrant “just to wind up Nigel Farage.”
However, she also put support for “marginalised groups” such as ethnic minorities and women at the forefront of her speech, and urged delegates to vote for “an education system that doesn’t work against students.”
Shakira Martin, president of Lewisham Southwark College was elected VP for Further Education, beating opponents Amy Smith of Sheffield College Students’ Union and Craig Clements, President of Leeds City College Students’ Union.
Shelly Asquith, president of University of the Arts London Students’ Union, was elected VP for Welfare, defeating Cat Turhan, president of Warwick Students’ Union.
Richard Brooks was elected VP for Union Development, running against Abdi Suleiman.
Brooks received a standing ovation at the end of his speech for calling the NUS a “pantomime” and saying “it’s all so bloody distant from what our students back at home want us to think.”
Piers Telemarque was re-elected VP of Societies and Citizenship, beating opponent Dario Celarchi.