Underdog ousts Bouattia to clinch NUS presidency
Shakira Martin took 56% of the three way vote yesterday and will now replace divisive one term president Malia Bouattia.
Shakira Martin, aged 28, won the battle to represent students across the country after campaigning on a promise to heal a fractured student body.
She pitched herself as the centrist candidate against the controversial and vocally left wing Malia Bouattia in the first NUS election to boast two black women competing for the position.
The third candidate, Tom Harwood, is a politics student at Durham University who previously ran a “Students for Brexit” campaign. Harwood received 35 votes to Martin’s 402 and Bouattia’s 272.
Martin is the current NUS Vice President of Further Education and defines herself as a black single mother from a working class family. Her campaign focused on the lifeline that education is for many young people.
The new president will be the second non-university attending president. The first was Toni Pearce, who served between 2013 and 2015. Martin dropped out of school aged 16, falling into crime before later attending Lewisham College to train to be a teacher.
In her acceptance speech she said “I am honoured and humbled to have been elected as NUS’ National President. I take this as a vote of trust that our members believe I can lead our national movement to be the fighting and campaigning organisation we need it to be, representing the breadth of our diverse membership.
“Further Education made me who I am today and I look forward to sharing stories of just how powerful all forms of education can be when we’re all given access to it. During my term in office I want to spend my time listening, learning and leading.”
Bouattia, the first female black Muslim woman to hold the coveted position, endured a year filled with allegations of anti-semitism.
Immediately following her election there were votes in 26 student unions to disaffiliate from the NUS. 3 were successful.
Martin said that members had felt the NUS was too out of touch and that her presidency would focus on bringing the focus back to student issues rather than foreign policy and politics.
The Union of Jewish Students welcomed the victory, saying that she demonstrates a “rejection of the divisive rhetoric used by the current president”.