pleased to welcome President of the National Union of Students, Malia Bouattia to the college yesterday, when she took time out of her very
busy schedule to come and talk with our students.
After meeting with
the principal and taking a tour of the college, Malia gave a talk in the
learning zone on the theme of ‘Have students got anything to be optimistic
passionately about the state of the world at the end of 2016 - a year that has
seen continued atrocities in Syria and the Middle East, ‘Brexit’, Trump and the
rise of right wing nationalism across Europe, and, closer to home, increased
austerity in the education system in Britain and the rise and rise of tuition
In the light of
all that's happened she agreed that it is no wonder that students might be
pessimistic about their futures but insisted that they should look further than
the headlines and take hope from the fact that young people are now more
engaged in politics than ever before and students are protesting and
campaigning for all sorts of human rights in increasing numbers. "The days
of accepting the world as it is are over" she said.
There followed a
Q&A session and our students asked some very smart and pertinent questions,
including about the priorities of the NUS, the ‘Prevent’ and British values
agendas, and questioning the role and value of ‘safe spaces’ on university
fluently and comprehensively on every topic and certainly showed that she has
what it takes to be an effective president of the union.
Malia's headline-making media history, questioning turned to the Palestine
conflict and her views on Hamas and Israel. Malia avoided being drawn into
rhetoric of sweeping condemnations, and instead she spoke of her personal
history of being brought up in war-torn Algeria, how her family were forced to
flee the country when she was a young child, and how this experience has
informed and directed her perspective. She urged students to learn more about
the history of conflicts in the news and dig deeper for a truer understanding.
Malia continued to
chat with students and answer questions long after the talk was finished and had
a real enthusiasm to engage with them. We thank her for her time and hope to
welcome her back again soon.