NUS bi update – August 2005

BCN caught up with the new bisexuality women’s place representative of the NUS’s national executive, Bethan.  

First of all congratulations on getting elected as one of the NUS’s bi officers.
Ta very much! This was one of the first years that there was any competition for the positions, so I’m pretty chuffed to get it.

What are you aiming to do in the coming year?
Anything I can really.  There’s been so many years gone by with so little done that even if I just do a little to set a standard for people next year it’ll be an achievement. I’ve already set up a yahoo group for bisexual students and members of the NUS (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Bi_NUS_LGBT/ should any students be reading this), and advertised it to HE & FE institutions by emailing all those with an LGBT group I could find.

I’ve also managed to get to know and network with various members of the national bi movement through BiCon and BiFest, which means that I have access for resources and support should I need it. Other than that I want to make flyers about bisexuality accessible to student unions by this years’ Fresher’s weeks, organize a stealth bi visibility campaign to get bisexuality seen and noticed with posters, without having to focus all the attention on the one out bi person in any union or LGBT to represent all bi people everywhere.

Also I’ll be dragging myself to every bi event I can make, hopefully be running a workshop for/about bisexual students at the next BiCon, and running my very own NUS bi networking day in spring term. I also want to promote the non-student events within the NUS so other students can come to realise that the support for them is there if they need it, and of course hopefully prepare my successor to go on to greater things.

I’m glad to hear it.  There doesn’t seem to have been any conscious joint working with the bi movement since about 2000 and the days when people like Beth Aze and Gina Roberts were involved.
I couldn’t possibly comment on the work (or lack thereof) of my predecessors, cos they’re bigger than me.  Other, of course, than to say that I’ve heard great things about Gina in her day.  On the flip side of the coin this means that I have a totally blank slate to work with so I can make the campaign into what ever I want it to be, and it’ll be very hard for anyone to compare me badly with my predecessors.

Does your remit just extend to the universities or to HE / FE colleges too?
It extends to all members of the NUS really, but I know I can only work with whom I can access.  I’ve emailed about myself to all the institutions with LGBT groups that I could find addresses for, including some FE and HE colleges, but I also know that the NUS as a whole often barely reaches beyond universities except to distribute their membership cards, so I doubt my capabilities as a part time officer will solve this.  However, I’m of course here for any bi student who I can reach or who can reach me.

What problems do you as NUS bi officer face?
As an officer I’ll face a lot of the problems that bi people as a whole face. Bisexuality is still not taken seriously within what is the NUS LGbt movement, so a lot of my work is to simply promote visibility.  Then there’s issues that all officers face – the NUS has a negligible budget, so raising money to get anything done is very difficult.  And of course, so little activity from bi officers for so long has meant that there is no standing bisexual student network. I’ve been trying to create one by emailing LGBT groups and setting up the yahoo group, but I feel that a lot of this will just be groundwork for later officers to hopefully build on.

Good luck, see you at BiCon – and keep BCN informed about what you’re up to!