Charlie HindhaughEducation Officer

Hey there, welcome to Warwick! My name’s Charlie, and I’m your Education Officer for the coming year.

One of the most important things you can do to shape your education is to stand as a Course Rep on the Student Staff Liaison Committee (SSLC), representing students on your course, working with your department and gaining some valuable skills along the way.

As a Union, we campaign at both a local and national level. Higher Education is facing a difficult time, and it’s incredibly important that we as students do not stay silent and we make our voice heard - Warwick SU is a democratic organisation, and we need you to get involved.

This year I’ll be working on campaigns to get more lectures recorded, for individual feedback on your exams, and to make choosing modules a bit easier with ‘Rate My Module’. If you have any questions, queries or problems, please don’t hesitate to drop me an email or pop into my office in SUHQ.

Good luck and enjoy what will be a memorable year!

Contact Charlie

The Education Officer's office is on the top floor of SUHQ.

Charlie's Latest Blog

Find all of Charlie's blog posts on his blog page.

  • Tue 26 Apr 2016 13:57

    SUMMARY 

    Last Thursday I came back from the National Union of Students (NUS) National Conference in Brighton. It was an interesting, exhausting, but also historic few days where some important policy was passed. The conference was, however, not without controversy. 

    As a first-time delegate to NUS Conference, I must admit I found the whole experience quite overwhelming and exhausting. There was an awful lot packed into a small amount of time, which made it a very inaccessible event, resulting in me having to leave just to get some rest for the next day. 

    However, I also saw some very inspirational leaders from students’ unions and the NUS as a whole. The speeches were inspiring and there were many excellent candidates.

    The entire Sabbatical Officer team at Warwick receive so much support from the NUS that we wouldn’t be able to do our jobs nearly as effectively without them. There certainly are things that we could do to change NUS - but we can only do it from inside the organisation. I would therefore urge students to look beyond some of the more salacious and misleading headlines which inevitably accompany these events to see the real benefits which come from our association with the NUS, rather than simply accepting these reports at face-value!

    FULL REPORT

    As one of your delegates, this extended post offers a rundown of some of the big decisions that were made including who I voted for, and why.

    The headline announcements from conference: 

    • Conference voted to support an organised sabotage of the NSS in order to fight against the HE reforms announced in the HE Green Paper.

    • Voted to campaign against the marketisation of education, calling for a “free, publicly funded education system for all, driven by democratic values and duties for the good of society.”

    • Unanimously voted in favour for the creation of a full time, paid, autonomous Trans Officer.

    • Elected the first female black Muslim President in the NUS’s history.

    • Sadly voted to pass a regressive policy in favour of criminalising legal highs.

    • Overwhelmingly voted to recognise the rise of anti-semitism on campus and commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.


    Who I voted for:
     

    • President: RON (Re-Open Nominations)

    • VP Education: Sorana Vieru

    • VP Welfare: Shelly Asquith

    • VP Society and Citizenship: 1. Chloe Schendell-Willson 2. Robbie Young.

    • VP Union Development: Richard Brooks.


    President - Why I Voted RON


    It’s been a difficult year for Higher Education. With the removal of Maintenance Grants - the single biggest ideological attack on low-income students in a generation - the freezing of the student loan repayment threshold, the announcement of the HE Green Paper, potential rises to tuition fees and the further privatisation of our education, we need an NUS that would lead a strong national and coherent response. I’ve been frustrated to see that this just hasn’t happened so far - it’s been left to underfunded activist groups to organise protests and direct action. Instead, the President’s response, the #CutTheCosts campaign, was simply too vague and ineffective to be the strong response students were desperately calling out for. While I have an awful lot of respect for Megan Dunn, I believe that a radical change in leadership was needed.

    The alternative candidate running for president, Malia Bouattia, the current Black Students’ Officer is an impressive and formidable candidate and activist. I had previously announced my intention to vote for Malia as I feel she was exactly the sort of leader the NUS needed. However, in the days running up to the conference, a series of open letters were published by Jewish students expressing concern about statements made by Malia regarding an alleged endorsement by an organisation no-platformed by the NUS.

    I was contacted by concerned Warwick students represented by the Jewish-Israeli Society and, after weighing up the articles, open letters and replies before the conference, I came to the conclusion that I could not vote for Malia. I did take the opportunity to speak to her over the phone about her campaign, but sadly I felt that her responses to these concerns were not sufficient, nor did she offer any proactive steps to ensure that Jewish students would not feel marginalised by the NUS. It was for these reasons that I decided to vote to re-open the nominations for President.

    On Saturday Malia wrote an article for The Guardian  responding to many of the concerns raised about her victory and the vitriolic coverage of her election in the media. I am glad that Malia has met with the Union of Jewish Students and will be continuing to meet with them. I am hopeful she will continue to take the actions required to ensure that Jewish students are not left out of our movement and that anti-semitism is taken seriously. I do have faith that she will provide a robust response to the upcoming reforms to higher education over the coming year.

    The Vice-Presidents


    VP Education: Sorana Vieru (elected)

    As Education Officer, Sorana has been incredibly helpful - I’ve seen first-hand the support she has given our SU and Warwick students, and just how hard she has worked in responding to the HE Green Paper, along with providing resources to SUs to write their own response. Sorana has also provided valuable training for our Course Reps. I’m looking forward to her continuing with the campaign to liberate the curriculum and I trust she will lead an excellent response to the upcoming HE White Paper.

    VP Welfare: Shelly Asquith (elected)

    Shelly has been a downright amazing VP Welfare and completely deserved to be re-elected. From campaigning against Prevent to helping with the Bursary or Bust campaign, Shelly helped Warwick SU with the Rent Rants campaign and I was proud to vote for her.

    VP Society and Citizenship: 1. Chloe Schendell-Willson 2. Robbie Young (elected)

    My first and second preferences actually came as a bit of a surprise. Chloe ran as an independent candidate from the two major factions in the elections, and took the time to ring me up and discuss what she wanted to do as Vice President. I was impressed by Chloe’s track record of winning for students at the President of Bournemouth SU and I thought she had a positive attitude that would have been an asset to the NUS team. When someone is brave enough to run outside the two factions as an independent candidate I thought it was important to support them with my vote in order to make sure the NUS elections are not just a two-horse race every year. I would love to see more candidates running for NUS elections in the future, and hopefully this should encourage more officers like Chloe to run.

    Robbie got my second preference after delivering an barnstorming speech to conference. I could see his passion and dedication was clear, and he had already delivered a huge amount for students as the LGBT officer by successfully campaigning to extend the HPV vaccination to men that sleep with men on the NHS. I also was won over by his manifesto pledges to promote trade union membership on campuses, fight for the living wage, and support divestment from fossil fuels.


    VP Union Development: Richard Brooks (elected)

    I’ve been impressed by how much Richard has engaged with students’ unions and provided support to Sabbs across the country. I’ve had some great conversations with Richard at NUS events and I voted for him as I trust him to be a strong VP Union Development. I’m now hoping that over the coming year he will ensure that NUS communications are reviewed to be more effective.


    Motions, Motions and More Motions: the highlights


    We had a 156 page document of several hundred motions being proposed to NUS conference. As a first-time delegate to the conference it was difficult to keep track of what was happening, particularly as we seemed to rush though many of the motions and move to a vote with very little time to think. These are a few specific motions which I wanted to highlight from each zone of the conference. If you would like to know how I voted on any specific motion or amendment then please send me an email at education@WarwickSU.com. The full 156 page document of the proposed motions can be found here.

    Education Zone

    This was the first section of motions to be debated and, as you would expect from the Education Officer, the ones I was most interested in. It was frustrating that we ended up running out of time to debate most of the motions as a lot of time was taken up with procedural motions, votes of no confidence in the chair, and some very close votes which required a count.
     

    • 201: Divorce our courses from market forces. This motion put forward an alternative vision for higher education that the NUS should campaign for. It called on the NUS to reject the marketisation of education and higher fees, and make the case for free, democratic and liberated education. I was very pleased to vote for it and I trust the Vice President for Higher Education will implement it. This is exactly the kind of campaigning I hope the NUS can take a lead on - making a positive alternative vision for our education - where we don’t see students as consumers, but active partners in their education.
       

    • 201b: NSS sabotage. I’ve written a blog post about how an NSS sabotage could be a very powerful tool in campaigning against the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). It was great to see the conference vote in favour of this motion and I hope the NUS will look into its potential.


    Union Development Zone
     

    • 315 KWAF KWAF KWAF IS ON FIRE. KWAF = Keep Wednesday Afternoons Free. Conference voted unanimously for the NUS to support local campaigns to keep Wednesday afternoons free for sport and societies. It’s an example of how the NUS works to campaign on so many issues that affect students.


    Welfare Zone

    There were so many awesome policies proposed in this zone, from supporting the NHS, campaigning for living grants for students, mental health, PREVENT, rent strikes and not-for-profit halls.
     

    • 404 Anti-Semitism on Campus and 404a Commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day. This was an important motion to recognise the worrying rise of anti-semitism on university campuses. Both here at Warwick and over at Birmingham University there have been concerning incidents of  anti-semitism and it’s right that the NUS voted to recognise this and work to raise awareness of anti-semitism The outgoing President, Megan Dunn, made an impassioned speech in favour. All Warwick’s delegates, along with the conference itself, voted overwhelmingly in favour of both of these motions.
       

    • 411 Legal Highs: While there were a lot of well-written motions, I was puzzled by this one that resolved to criminalise and ban legal highs on campus. While I do not disagree with the intention that legal highs can be dangerous, this motion represents a very regressive policy that, if implemented at Warwick, would have serious welfare implications for students caught with legal highs. I therefore had to speak and vote against this motion.


    Society and Citizenship Zone


    The motions in this zone focused on refugees, education for people in detention, and climate change. One motion about providing personalised toolkits for lobbying MPs and councillors became an oddly contentious policy, which seemed to become a microcosm of the debate over how the NUS should campaign. I voted in favour, as the NUS has provided valuable briefing documents and toolkits tailored to the main parties over the issues of maintenance grants.


    Annual General Meeting

    This section of motions came right towards the end of the second day. It had been a grueling and exhausting time in the conference and I’m sad to say that I felt rather unwell and had to go back to the hotel out of exhaustion. 
     

    • 605 A full-time paid NUS Trans Officer. I was really pleased that this motion passed to create a full time Trans Officer - it was a hard-fought campaign after it was voted down last year, but this year there was a strong campaign in favour resulting in an almost unanimous vote. Had I been there, I would have proudly also voted in favour.
       

    • 609 One Member One Vote. There was a very interesting debate on the introduction of one member one vote for NUS elections. I came to the conference in favour of the idea, but there were some important points raised on both sides. On the one hand it would open up election to all students and potentially engage more people with NUS democracy - however, on the other it could potentially damage the representation of small and specialist unions, apprentices, and further education colleges. In the end I abstained, but I think we need to continue the conversation about how the NUS can better engage with its members.


    Jewish Students and Anti-Semitism 


    It is deeply concerning to see the rise of anti-semitism campuses over the last year, and the allegations of anti-semitism in the left. When students got in contact with me, it was right thing to take their concerns seriously - hence why I changed my voting preferences for President. The motion to recognise and raise awareness of anti-semitism was an important step in the right direction, and I hope it continues. 

    Incidents and allegations of anti-semitism need to be taken incredibly seriously, as we should do with any form of racism or discrimination. Sometimes it feels like liberation is viewed as a  zero-sum game where advances will come at the expense at others - this simply is not, and should not be the case. Our politics must be intersectional and listen to accusations when they are made. 

    I am positive that steps will be taken, while the conversation that this has provoked is also beneficial in terms of creating discussion and awareness of the issue.


    “Hang on, you voted to ‘ban’ YikYak?”


    WE DIDN'T VOTE TO BAN YIKYAK.

    HONESTLY.

    I PROMISE YOU. I WAS THERE. I VOTED FOR THE MOTION IN QUESTION.

    I READ IT.

    WE DIDN'T BAN ANYTHING.

    SCOUT’S HONOUR!

    Motion 303 entitled “Safe Social Elections” highlighted the abuse that many candidates standing in SU elections have received by anonymous trolls through Facebook, Twitter and YikYak.

    I’ve seen this first-hand at Warwick: people hiding behind the veil of anonymity to insult, abuse and belittle candidates. It’s caused serious damage to the morale of candidates and their teams, and represents the truly ugly face of SU elections. It’s this kind of abuse that can put students off running or make them withdraw from elections entirely - anonymous abuse is bad for diversity, bad for student choice, and it’s bad for democracy. It was right that this policy was discussed and that the NUS does something about it.

    What the policy actually resolved to do was simply a single point: “That the NUS open a dialogue with Facebook, Twitter, and YikYak to introduce restrictions on ‘anonymous’ or troll accounts during election periods”. What I hope is that we can put in place some provisions that make SU elections a more friendly and respectful place on social media.

     

Charlie's Election

The election for Education Officer takes place during the Officer Elections in term 2.