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 5.Nat'l Policy Issues



5.1 EDUCATION

5.1.1 Comprehensive Schools (24.3.65; retained 15.11.90; retained 28.11.95; retained 8.11.01)

This Union, realising that full and equal educational opportunity is of vital importance in any progressive society believes that: A full comprehensive educational system should be instituted in Britain and deplores attempts to obstruct such change. A system of fee-paying has no place in the above, and therefore asks that private schools shall be fully incorporated into the State system.

5.1.2 Student Poverty and the Attack on Education (5.11.92, retained 11.10.98)

This Union notes:

  1. Students Grants have been cut and are constantly losing value
  2. Students are being forced into crippling debt to the student loan scheme and to the banks
  3. Students have been denied Housing Benefit
  4. Students have lost their rights to income support during vacations, making them one of the new groups in society with no right to an income
  5. More and more students are being squeezed into Higher Education without a proportionate increases in resources. Classes are getting bigger; facilities like the Library are overstretched with massive queues for everything
  6. Other attacks in the pipeline include an attack on the NUS, the introduction of a new four term, two year degree and the possible introduction of top-up fees
  7. Students have not been completely passive in the face of these attacks; there was a massive wave of occupations last year, including one in Sussex, which gave the issue national attention and gained some students local concessions
  8. In the past other attacks on students have been defeated by mass action and can be in the future - right now Italian students are participating with workers in mass resistance to austerity.

This Union believes:

  1. The attacks on students are part of a wider process of restructuring society against the interests of people, in favour of profitability, 'efficiency' and money. Other examples are the attempt to crush the miners, the commodification of health care and crackdowns on welfare recipients
  2. The state is trying to turn education into a factory farm, producing 'good' workers who don't think
  3. Student life should not be reduced to the conveyor belt production of people as objects
  4. That the only way to defeat these attacks and to restore grants and benefits is a campaign with maximum student involvement. We must build a movement, not a bureaucracy.
  5. With the present economic crisis, the attacks can only get worse. However, the crisis also shows the lack of room for manoeuvre on the side of the state. Rather than using 'divide and rule', they are being forced to attack wide sections of society at once. Their weakness is our strength. We must take this opportunity to fight for our needs.

This Union resolves:

  1. To fight the attacks on students by all possible means
  2. To build a mass movement with the maximum participation of ordinary students and not to rely solely on NUS 'specialists', whose campaigning against the attacks had been inadequate.

This Union instructs the Executive:

  1. To set up and provide resources for a campaign group open to all students. This group's mandate will be to investigate the conditions and real needs of students, to publicise the issues of poverty and overcrowding and to develop an effective campaign using all reasonable means to restore grants and benefits, involving both local action and a link up to a national movement. This group will regularly consult the Union Executive and report back to Union General Meetings
  2. To call the first open meeting of this campaign group next week.

5.2 LESBIAN AND GAY RIGHTS

5.2.1 Stop Clause 28 (of Local Government Bill) (28.1.88; retained 5.11.92; retained 11.10.98)

This Union notes:

  1. Clause 28 (formerly 27) of the Local Government Bill which intends to prohibit the 'promotion' of homosexuality and the funding of any group involved in so doing
  2. The atmosphere of increased hostility to lesbian and gay men including the tenfold increase in physical attacks in the last two years, the recent arson attack on Capital Gay, the witch-hunt of gays in the church and the bigoted hysteria of the gutter press
  3. Clause 28 represents a direct attack on this Union threatening the existence of the Lesbian and Gay Society
  4. The establishment of a national campaign to stop Clause 28
  5. The demonstration in Manchester called for the 20th February
  6. The extremely successful demonstration in London on 9th January which attracted 12,000 people - the largest demo for Lesbian and Gay rights since 1985
  7. So far the campaign has been conducted without the support of the Labour Party leadership.

This Union believes:

  1. That Clause 28 is not just an attack on lesbians and gay men but an attack on the right of everybody to determine their own sexuality
  2. Young lesbians and gays have a right to receive positive images and role models in schools, and that lesbian and gay relationships are equally as valid as relationships between heterosexuals
  3. That the Tory government is on a political offensive, of which Clause 28 is a part, along with the attack on women's abortion rights, cuts in child benefit and social security, the poll tax and education cuts. These attacks are the Tories' attempt to make the working class and oppressed pay for the economic crisis
  4. That Clause 28 will only be defeated through the joint activity and mass protest of lesbians, gay men and heterosexuals.

This Union condemns:

  1. The passive and tokenistic approach of the leadership of the National Union of Students to lesbian and gay rights.

This Union resolves:

  1. To support national and local campaigns against Clause 28 (or whatever else it might come to be known as)
  2. To organise and pay for a coach to the demo in Manchester on 20th February and to organise and to pay for leaflets, posters and publicity for the campaign. Money should come from the Contingencies, Campaigns, and/or External Affairs budgets
  3. To campaign for a policy of non-implementation: in particular:
  4. To defend the existence of a funded Lesbian and Gay Society on this campus against any attack
  5. To campaign for non-implementation among teachers and local government workers
  6. To campaign for the decriminalisation of homosexuality

5.2.2 Equal Rights for Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals, Transgendered and Transsexuals (11.10.98)

This Union notes:

  1. There are inequalities within the law regarding lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered and transsexuals.
  2. That the armed forced operate and explicit ban on gays and lesbians.
  3. That the University of Sussex branch of the Royal Naval Unit (URNU) is housed on campus and its members are students.
  4. That the URNU is part of the navy and as such also operates a ban on gays and lesbians.
  5. That URNU selection processes include explicit questions about sexual orientation.

This Union believes:

  1. There should be equal recognition for young lesbians, bisexuals and gay men in our schools, an end to homophobic bullying and the repeal of Section 28.
  2. There should be equal treatment under the criminal law, an equal age of consent and the repeal of gross indecency.
  3. There should be equal protection for discrimination in the workplace, in education and the provision of goods and services.
  4. That the armed forced ban is a clear example of discrimination in the workplace and in education.
  5. That gay and lesbian servicemen and women and students across the country who are members of URNU and OTC, experience persecution due to their sexual orientation.
  6. That the University has an Equal Opportunities policy, yet continue to support URNU on campus.
  7. That the presence of URNU on campus is threatening and oppressive to LGBT students and reinforces hetrosexism.
  8. That this Union has just passed an Equal Opportunities policy and should condemn the presence of URNU on campus.
  9. There should be equal recognition and respect for same sex partners.
  10. There should be equal recognition and respect for lesbian, gay men and bisexual parents and their children.
  11. That transgendered and transsexuals face a similar discrimination to lesbians, gay men and bisexuals.

This Union resolves:

  1. To mandate the Students' Union to actively campaign for equality for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in the first 5 points as outlined above.
  2. Where applicable in the first 5 points outlined above, to mandate the Students' Union to actively campaign for equality for transgendered and transsexuals.
  3. To mandate the Students' Union to actively campaign for transgendered and transsexual equality which is not covered by the above 5 points.
  4. To mandate the Executive to monitor the discriminatory practices of URNU, OTC and the Armed forces.
  5. To ban the armed forced from all Union events such as Freshers Fayre.
  6. To mandate the Executive to lobby the University to end its relationship with discriminatory organisations such as URNU whilst the gay ban is up held.

5.3 WOMENS RIGHTS

5.3.1 The Exploitation of Women (7.11.74; retained 15.11.90; retained 28.11.95; retained 14.10.00)

This Union notes:

  1. The recent NUS women's conference at Leicester
  2. The continuing oppression of women
  3. The working womens Charter drawn up by the womens' sub-committee of the Greater London Trades Council and adopted by many working class
  4. The recent militant strikes for equal pay
  5. The discrimination against married women in last summer's grant award in particular the spouse's contribution
  6. The under representation of women students in all decision-making and representative bodies of the NUS and local students unions
  7. The cut in Government educational spending and believes this will extend the already existing discrimination against women racial minorities and working class people
  8. The limitations of the last Labour Government's white paper on anti-discrimination proposals. This Union believes:
  9. That the working class women's charter provides the basis for linking the struggle of both women students and women college workers
  10. That equal pay strikes are essential to the overcoming of manoeuvrers such as regrading by which management attempts to bypass the equal pay legislation
  11. That more women's courses are essential
  12. That positive discrimination in favour of women in education is necessary to correct the balance by societyÕs negative discrimination
  13. That the nursery campaign remains extremely important.

5.3.2 Reaffirmation of support for the National Abortion Campaign (NAC) (3.12.81; retained 15.11.90; retained 28.11.95; retained 13.11.02)

This Union notes:

  1. Existing Union policy to support the aims and demands of the National Abortion Campaign
  2. That the National Abortion Campaign has extended its activities to all aspects of women's fertility control
  3. That the Brighton NAC Group cannot continue without financial assistance.

This Union believes:

  1. That a woman's right to control her own fertility is a basic and central tenet of the Women's Liberation Movement
  2. That active support for the campaign is essential if it is to be successful.

This Union resolves:

  1. To continue supporting NAC both nationally and locally
  2. To demonstrate support by donating £50 to Brighton NAC.

5.4 CIVIL RIGHTS

5.4.1 Legalise Cannabis Campaign (20.11.79; retained 15.11.90) (retained 28.11.95; retained 14.10.00)

This Union notes:

  1. That cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in Britain today
  2. That cannabis is one of the world's most intensively studied drugs and no significant damage caused to the health of users has ever been demonstrated
  3. That over 10,000 people are convicted of cannabis offences every year. That 86% of all drug offences are for cannabis, 82% of which are for less than one ounce
  4. That the cannabis laws are used in a discriminatory way, especially against black people, the younger generation and those with unusual (nonstraight) lifestyles
  5. That police powers to stop and search for drugs on suspicion are an infringement of civil liberties.

This Union believes:

  1. That the use and distribution of cannabis, including any substance, product, or by-product derived from a plant of the genus Cannabis are activities which should not be prohibited by criminal law
  2. That all criminal penalties for possession and cultivation for personal use should be removed immediately. The offence of allowing premises to be used for smoking cannabis should be abolished
  3. That all criminal records for previous cannabis offences should be destroyed following the repeal of legislation which created those offences
  4. People convicted of offences in other countries comparable with those cannabis offences repealed in the UK should not be refused entry or residence in the UK on these grounds
  5. That doctors should be entitled to prescribe cannabis for medical purposes in the same way as other medicine
  6. That pending full legislation, supply charges should not be treated as a serious criminal offence punishable by imprisonment, and supply charges should not be applied to all those cases where cannabis is being distributed on a non profit making basis
  7. That cannabis should be remove altogether from the UN Single Convention on Narcotic drugs or the UK should cease to be bound by the provisions of the Convention as regard cannabis
  8. Methods of legal distribution of cannabis should be investigated and put into action as soon as practically possible. These measures should include protection for the consumer, the restriction of advertising, and the protection of small scale producers and distributors
  9. That a permanent committee should be established under the DHSS to examine and publish information about all non medical drug user, whether licit or illicit to replace the present advisory Council on the misuse of Drugs (under the Home Office) which meets irregularly and does not consider the most widely used of these drugs: alcohol, nicotine and caffeine. The Committee should be empowered to make recommendations to Government as to drug policy and to publish these recommendations.

This Union instructs the Executive:

  1. To affiliate to the Legalise Cannabis campaign
  2. To establish a fund, provided for by voluntary contributions to aid Sussex University students charged with, or convicted of, cannabis offences and to provide legal assistance if required for more serious offences
  3. To regard overseas students convicted of cannabis offences and threatened with deportation, as special cases deserving full union support.

5.4.2 Freedom of Information Bill (2.2.84; retained 15.11.90) (retained 28.11.95; retained 14.10.00)

This Union notes:

  1. The new police powers bill which severely threatens personal liberty and particularly discrimination against minorities
  2. That this western country holds the most repressive Official Secrets Act in the western world
  3. That freedom of information acts exist in most other Western European states.

This Union believes:

  1. That the new freedom of Information bill would do something to offset the increasing threat to the individual by the state
  2. That in view of the proposed increase in police powers (which are already excessive) that the bill is more vital than ever.

This Union resolves:

  1. To affiliate to the national campaign associated with the Freedom of Information bill
  2. To invite a speaker for the bill to Sussex and to organise a petition in support of it

5.4.3 Police Brutality and Sam Cole (29.11.84; retained 15.11.90; retained 28.11.95; retained 14.10.00)

This Union notes:

  1. The increasing occurrence of acts of brutality towards members of the public by the police force
  2. Their use of minor public disorder charges to prosecute innocent people
  3. Their refusal of Legal Aid to people charged with such public order offences
  4. The need for adequate legal representation in court for a successful defence against such charges
  5. The failure of the police complaints procedure to acknowledge and rectify unlawful police behaviour
  6. The far greater success rate for civil proceedings against the police in such circumstances.

This Union believes:

  1. That its members should have a right to legal representation in court for criminal proceedings against them and that they should not have to pay for this individually
  2. That when assessed to be favourable by members of the legal profession, that its members should be provided with legal representation to proceed in a civil action against the police. This Union resolves:
  3. To mandate V.P.Welfare to draw up a list of so-called 'McKenzie Lawyers'. These are untrained representatives who, through their personal experience in court, can help those facing criminal proceedings in court
  4. To mandate the Executive to look into the methods of other colleges who operate a legal loans fund
  5. To mandate Finance Committee to find practical ways of implementing the principles and spirit of this motion This Union deplores the political use of conspiracy charges against nine members and friends of Alconbury Peace Camp for following their belief that nuclear war must be prevented by those whom it would destroy and we call for charge to be dropped. We also call for an end to official harassment and abuse of members of the Peace Movement, i.e. politically restrictive bail conditions, road blocks, forcible photography and telephone tapping. We call for Union support in the mass civil disobedience against the defence policies of the Government and specifically the mass trespass of U.S. Alconbury on Sunday 2nd December.

5.4.4 Simon Jones Memorial Campaign (14.10.00)

This Union notes:

  1. Simon Jones, a Sussex student was killed on 24th April, 1998, aged 24, on his first day as a casual worker at Shoreham dock. He was sent to work unloading cargo inside a ship - one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. He was given only a few minutes 'training' and was killed within hours of starting work.
  2. Personell Selection, the employment agency that hired Simon did not check the job was safe and have not been held in account.
  3. Euromin, the company responsible have not been prosecuted.
  4. It has taken a judicial review to make the CPS investigate the case. This still has not happened.

This Union believes:

  1. The huge growth of casualisation, where people especially students are forced into low paid jobs with little or no training, no job security, no sick pay and no holiday pay means bigger profits for companies and more deaths and injuries for the people working for them
  2. That the failure of the CPS to prosecute is a national disgrace.
  3. That the H.S.E. is failing workers all over the country by allowing companies to escape scrutiny and be held accountable.

This Union resolves:

  1. To support and raise funds for the Simon Jones Memorial Campaign.
  2. To raise awareness and campaign against the growth of casualisation.

5.5 STUDENT UNIONS

5.5.1 Free and automatic membership of Student Union Services and NUS (11.11.93; retained 11.10.99)

This Union notes:

  1. The announcement by the Secretary of State for Education, John Patten, that the Government will introduce legislation to destroy the NUS totally and Students' Unions as we know them.
  2. Union policy passed last year to campaign for maintaining free and automatic membership.
  3. This Union is one of more than one thousand Students' Unions in the United Kingdom which will be affected by any legislation.
  4. The work being done by both NUS and South East Area NUS East to provide a secure future for NUS and Students Unions.

This Union believes:

  1. That many students, especially first years, have little or no knowledge of the current situation.
  2. The government attacks on NUS and Students' Union are unfounded and misinformed.
  3. The Government legislation could mean the end of Student Unions and therefore the campaign should be one of the most prominent campaigns of the year.
  4. Any effective campaign against the legislation must be a national one, involving as many students as possible.
  5. Any divisions between students or student unions will only frustrate the campaign. Students and Student Unions must all work together to ensure their future existence.
  6. In order to ensure collaboration a national body is essential, and we have this in NUS.
  7. Any attempt to disaffiliate from the NUS in the current climate would be disastrous to the campaign.

This Union resolves:

  1. To take a full and leading role in the national and area campaigns for the maintenance of free and automatic membership to ALL aspects of the Union.
  2. To publicise the Government attacks on NUS and Student Unions and ensure information on this issue is available to every student.

5.6 HOUSING

5.6.1 Campaign against Government Housing Bill and form Improved University Accommodation Measures (28.1.88; retained 5.11.92; retained 10.11.98)

This Union notes:

  1. The White Paper, 'Housing: The Government's Proposals' which aims to take more housing out of the public sector and deregulate the private sector. This will mean higher rents and less security; lower standards, greater poverty and more evictions. This legislation does not address homelessness, it is not designed to do anything but benefit landlords
  2. The Government's plans to limit Housing Benefit still further, awarding it only on rents deemed 'reasonable' by Rent Officers
  3. That public spending on housing has been cut by nearly 60% since 197
  4. Every country in Europe spends more than the U.K. on housing
  5. That over 80% of Houses in Multiple Occupation many of them housing students, have been found to be dangerous and nearly half require substantial repairs
  6. That half a million building workers are unemployed
  7. That an estimated 250,000 people in Britain are now homeless
  8. That students spend 80% of their grant on food and accommodation. Rent rises above the rate of grant increases cannot be tolerated. This Union believes:
  9. That leaving home is a natural and fundamental part of growing up and becoming independent. Students have a right to cheap, secure accommodation. The Housing Bill will further deny this right
  10. That students in Brighton face a worsening housing crisis over the coming years, leading to hardship and further reducing access to education for the poor.

This Union resolves:

  1. To organise a joint campaign with the Polytechnic and Further Education colleges in Brighton to inform students about the Government's proposals and oppose them
  2. To liaise with and support the Brighton Private Tenants' Action Group (BPTAG) and Private Tenants' Information Campaign
  3. To organise a lobby of local MPs to publicise the BPTAG Public Meeting in Brighton on 28th January 1988 and to organise further meetings and events on campus and in Brighton
  4. To make links with Council Tenants' Groups, Trade Unions and voluntary agencies in Brighton
  5. To support all NUS and Sussex Area NUS initiatives against the Housing Bill
  6. To support Shelter's campaign 'Let's Get to Work' to get more money put into building and repair work
  7. To campaign for no campus rent increases above student grant increases (i.e. no increase above 4% for 1988/89)
  8. To campaign for an improved University Accommodation Bureau incorporating thorough surveying of all properties with survey available to prospective tenants, more advice and clear policy on negotiation of rent levels and deposits
  9. To campaign for emergency 'crash' accommodation provided on campus by the University for homeless students at the beginning of the Autumn Term 1988.

5.7 RACISM & FASCISM (IN THE UK)

5.7.1 Anti-Fascist Action (29.10.86; retained 15.11.90; retained 28.11.95; retained 13.11.02)

This Union notes:

  1. The growing wave of racial violence and attacks aimed at black people across the country
  2. The increasing militaristic and violent activities of fascist groups, in particular the National Front and the British National Party and their growing links with far right groups abroad
  3. The growth of Anti-Fascist Action as a broad-based, non-sectarian organisation, free of party affiliations and uniting groups campaigning against racism and fascism
  4. The National March on Remembrance Sunday in memory of ALL victims of racist and fascist violence (yesterday and today) and to expose the hypocrisy of allowing the National Front to march on the day. This Union believes:
  5. Racism must be countered both ideologically and physically on the streets by direct action
  6. Due to the absence of any positive action by those in authority we must fully support the right of black people autonomously to organise in self-defence.

This Union resolves:

  1. To affiliate to Anti-Fascist Action
  2. To take out a supporters' subscription to Searchlight, the voice of the anti-racist and anti-fascist movement in Britain
  3. To publicise and send a coach to the National March on November 9th
  4. To help to monitor racist and fascist activity in Brighton in co-ordinating with black students.

5.7.2 Affiliation to the Anti Nazi League (11.11.93; retained 11.10.99)

This Union notes:

  1. The rise in the number of fascist attacks since the establishment of the BNP Headquarters in Welling, South London.
  2. The corresponding rise in racist incidents and graffiti both on campus and in Brighton.
  3. The NUS declaration of the right to study in an environment free from discrimination. This Union believes:
  4. That the rise of the BNP and of fascists and racism generally needs to be confronted by students and workers everywhere.
  5. That the most effective way of organising students at this University for this purpose is by affiliation to the National Anti Nazi League.

This Union resolves to affiliate to the national Anti Nazi League.

5.8 HEALTH SERVICE

5.8.1 Campaign to Defend the National Health Service (28.1.88; retained 5.11.92; retained 11.10.98)

This Union notes:

  1. The current 'crisis' in the National Health Service, particularly in the hospital sector
  2. Calls by nurses for strike action in support of their pay/conditions demands
  3. The recent climb-down by the Government, following nurses' strike action, concerning 'special payments' for night work and the blood transfusion service
  4. That students and their families make regular use of NHS facilities and are directly affected by an underfunded, understaffed NHS.

This Union believes:

  1. The Government is not funding the NHS sufficiently to meet the demands upon it
  2. That such underfunding is a result of deliberate policy aimed at creating an inadequate service which will lead to calls for privatisation, health insurance schemes, and so on
  3. That all health services should be freely available to all members of the community
  4. That nurses are vastly underpaid and required to work exhaustively long hours
  5. That the Royal College of Nurses' 'no-strike' clause of membership encourages the Government to ignore nurses' demands
  6. That ancillary health service workers are underpaid.

This Union resolves:

  1. To support, in whatever way possible, any action taken by health service workers in support of wage/conditions demands and/or demands for improved funding of the NHS
  2. To mandate the Executive Committee to contact any health unions, eg. the Confederation Of Health Service Employees, the National Union of Public Employees and the Royal College of Nursing, contemplating or actually taking action, offering our support and facilities
  3. To offer any of the above unions space in Unionews to explain the situation in the NHS
  4. To support any strike action which takes place on February 3rd 1988.

This Union agrees to send the attached motion to NUS Conference.



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