Tuesday, 22 November 2016
Behind the rhetoric and the negotiating positions, we cannot forget that there are real people- Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland President
NUS Scotland are proud to support STUC’s St Andrew's Day March. St Andrew’s Day gives us an important opportunity to show the strength of positive feeling that exists across our communities and country in standing up for those seeking a better life in Scotland. And perhaps in no year has that been more important.
The EU referendum has undoubtedly dominated the political sphere. But beneath the debates about timescales and negotiating positions we cannot forget that there are real people it has affected in a very real way: foreign nationals, living in Scotland and across the UK, who have faced an undoubted increase in horrific rhetoric, and even violence.
And if only it was rhetoric that stopped at the corridors of power – but it doesn’t. At times that rhetoric has started there. At Conservative party conference in September, we saw speakers falling over themselves to outdo the damaging and shameful speeches of whoever went before them, promising ever more damaging and shameful policies.
NUS Scotland is proud to make an impassioned case for the thousands of staff and students from other EU countries, and the thousands more from right around the world, who contribute huge amounts to our campuses, communities and country. In return, the least they deserve is to be treated with respect – not monitored and reported on, or used as a bargaining chip or target to be met. Foreign nationals living in Scotland are more than just a number – they are our colleagues, lecturers, fellow students, and friends.
And it’s not just with Brexit that we need to take action, and make that demand for a more compassionate country that works towards a better world. With the refugee crisis growing, and the daily and horrifying reminders we see of those feeling war and persecution, to be met by a disgraceful response from sections of the media and some politicians, it’s vitally important we unite in opposing racism everywhere it rears its ugly head.
While the St Andrews Day March evidences the huge number of organisations and individuals campaigning against racism and fascism, it’s a disgrace that responsibility has been left solely to our activists while governments across the world turn their backs. I want to believe – as a society, a country, and a world – that we’re better than that. That’s why I’m so proud we’re able to stand with STUC at this time, ensuring we make that message loudly to those who need to hear, and who must act on it.
NUS Scotland President