Since the weekend, NUS has stood with those demanding justice for Sarah Everard. We organised in memory of students Libby Squire & Blessing Olusegun, too. Many students organised physical & digital actions in resistance, often joining groups like Sisters Uncut, building on the long tradition of incredible student activism against sexual violence. While the arms of the state attempt to crack down on us, our resistance was not and will not be silenced.
Since NUS started campaigning against sexual violence on campus over a decade ago, we have fought for a culture of consent, for community safety and collective care. Alongside FemSocs, Women’s Officers and student activists across the country we have called for proper support through trauma-informed counselling, survivor-centred support services and for the devastating cuts to domestic violence services to be reversed. We have never asked for more policing on campus or for more police powers, because this has never been what makes us safe. Criminalisation will not prevent harm, nor will it prevent trauma. Further, as marginalised communities have known, or are sadly learning, police are all too often the perpetrators of this violence we face.
The carceral state, meaning the fact that surveillance and punishment are perceived as the foundation of our society, was not built to protect us. Its roots are entangled with colonialism, the patriarchy, ableism and cis-heteronormativity. At its core, it aims to control our communities’ power to self-determinate and prevent our collective liberation.
Defunding and abolishing the police requires us to shift resources away from an overblown criminal justice system and towards community care, accountability and transformative justice. We must invest in healthcare, education and the vital support services that have been neglected by this government. This is the effective response to sexual violence and this is the only path towards our collective liberation.
Our Decolonise Education national campaign is grounded in collective care and transformative justice. To succeed, it requires us to build alternatives to state violence – join the campaign.
Sara Khan, NUS VP Liberation & Equality