The clash of unarmed protesters and heavily militarised police is unfortunately all too familiar in 2016. From Black Lives Matter to tuition fee demos, the response to popular protest now regularly involves some level of violence, even when activists are employing entirely peaceful methods. Protests at Standing Rock in Dakota, opposing the construction of an oil pipeline, have been the most recent example of this.
But after months of action, last week brought good news for those at Standing Rock. Their fight against the construction of a section of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will transport oil produced through fracking across America, was vindicated as the US Army Corps of Engineers announced they would not give permission for that section to be built.
Activists had camped out close to the reservation of the native American Sioux tribe since April, demanding that the US government refuse contractors a permit to build through the area; they argued it would not only threaten the supply of clean water, but would destroy sites sacred to the Sioux tribe.
It was a campaign that brought together native Americans and environmental activists, fighting to protect the planet and the rights of indigenous people. It was also a protest that was proudly and defiantly pacifist.
A Lakota man locks himself to construction equipment in protest
Guns and other weapons were banned from the protesters’ encampment from the outset, and even faced with police violence protesters did not respond in kind. Yet the reaction to this clearly peaceful protest was ruthless violence, from local police forces and private security forces. In fact, the pipeline protests only came to mainstream attention after Democracy Now reported on the use of police dogs against the protesters, resulting in bites and other injuries.
Since then, Standing Rock has faced tear gas, rubber bullets, sound and water cannons, tasers, and a plethora of other devices described as ‘less-than-lethal’ munitions. The tear gas grenades used have been banned in many other US states, whilst the water cannons’ effect has been amplified by the below freezing temperatures at Standing Rock, leaving protesters coated in ice and unable to recover properly in their basic camp.
One protester is reportedly facing possible blindness in one eye after being hit by these weapons, whilst another nearly lost her arm. When questioned local police claimed they were using violent measures appropriately – for example not aiming water cannons directly at protesters – even when video footage clearly showed otherwise. The situation at Standing Rock became so hostile that a group of US veterans moved in and formed a protective barrier between protesting civilians and police and security forces.
State violence of this kind is always abhorrent, but against patently unarmed civilians it becomes ridiculous. People engaging in legal protest and civil disobedience were met by enforcement agencies as though they were an armed brigade, as though this was a war rather than a demonstration.
In fact, the equipment being used by police were instruments of war; following the decrease of America’s military presence in the Middle East, heavy duty equipment used in these conflicts has been sold off to police forces across the country.
This is why we see images from America of police responding to events dressed for war, riding in armoured tanks and grasping automatic weapons. Thus the violence of the Dakota Pipeline protests can be directly linked to the violence of recent wars.
Dakota Access Pipeline protest at the Sacred Stone Camp
But at Standing Rock, protesters held out against this uneven power struggle and have halted the construction of the offending section of the pipeline. Peaceful yet determined activism has won. In fact, the injustice of the heavy militarisation of the police response has been key in gaining mainstream media attention, as well as the sympathy and support of large swathes of the public across the world.
Standing Rock has highlighted the almost commonplace nature of police violence, as well as proving it doesn’t work. A group of environmental activists and native Americans, armed with nothing but their convictions, have faced the might of a militarised police force – and convincingly shown their peaceful methods are the ones which work.
The term “ignorance is bliss” has never quite resonated with me as much as when I returned to the office after the end of the American Presidential Election and I reread my “Clinton, Trump and Daisy” blogpost. I can remember writing the article, all the while thinking it is almost implausible for the eventuality that Trump would actually become President. Yet lo and behold… here we are.
Now the word “cynicism” now springs to mind.
Cynicism – ˈsɪnɪsɪz(ə)m/Noun, “an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest; scepticism.” Or, “Public cynicism about politics”. Synonyms: scepticism, doubt, distrust, mistrust, doubtfulness, suspicion, disbelief, incredulity.
The new President-Elect has caused quite a stir on the world’s stage with his dangerous rhetoric regarding the notorious American nuclear codes, and his outward looking approach on the rest of the worlds’ relationship with nuclear weapons.
Looking back to the last few days of the election, the rumour spreading around that Trump had his Twitter Account confiscated from him was fuelled by Obama’s statement in Florida;
“Apparently, [Trump’s] campaign has taken away his Twitter. In the last two days, they had so little confidence in his self-control, they said, “We’re just gonna take away your twitter.” Now, if somebody can’t handle a Twitter account, they can’t handle the nuclear codes. If somebody starts tweeting at three in the morning because SNL made fun of you, then you can’t handle the nuclear codes.”
One of the major anti-Trump arguments was in line with what Obama said – how can we trust a man with the nuclear codes who has a temperament of a toddler? Especially when there is no eventuality within American politics that would be able to stop Trump from pushing the big red button! Even if all his advisers and field experts tell him otherwise, Trump is still allowed to press the button (or use the nuclear biscuit, which is the nickname given to the credit card-like material which holds the nuclear codes!).
Bearing this in mind, there has been an alarming sense of confusion with regards to the President-Elects position on Nuclear Weapons. He is now denying that he ever promoted horizontal nuclear proliferation (more countries acquiring nuclear weapon capability), despite proof of him saying it in late March whilst being publicly interviewed during his campaign trail.
He argued that there could be a change on outward nuclear policy in favour for proliferation, in which he explicitly referred to allowing Japan to develop their nuclear capability. He hasn’t ruled out the possibility that he would use nuclear weapons in times of necessity. And even more worrying than these two comments, is his blatant dislike and distrust for the Iran-Nuclear Deal – as he has the very real opportunity to un-do the hugely significant and successful deal between two previous disaffected countries.
Now having a Republican as President and an overall right wing sentiment within the House (who are ready to work with Trump when he takes up his presidency post), it is increasingly likely that the Iran-Nuclear deal will be up for discussion once again. It will be both simultaneously interesting and alarming to see what steps Trump will take in order to reassure the global nuclear stability – or in fact, do quite the opposite.
Many members of the Left, throughout the world, have joined a widespread outcry at Trump becoming the 45th President of the United States due to his lack of political experience and his unsettled temperament. But despite a unison of worried politicians and loud voices declaring their contempt for the President-Elects previous statements, there seems to be a prevailing feeling and rhetoric of cynicism.
2016 has been a bit of a rubbish year across the board. It will always be the answer to the “guess the year” round in a pub quiz. Or if you have a political question that seems completely and utterly bonkers, the odds are in your favour that it happened in 2016. Not just politically, but within pop-culture too, there seems to be a downtrodden feeling towards 2016. Prince. Alan Rickman. David Bowie.
Even the word of the year, nominated by the Oxford Dictionary has underlying links with cynicism; Post-truth.
Post-truth –/ˌpəʊs(t)ˈtruːθ/ adjective, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion of personal belief.”
Rather than remaining cynical, depressed and making memes about how bad 2016 has been, we instead need to join together and create a leading opposition to the new right-wing, populist parties that are gaining popularity amongst the people. We need to ensure we need to work together and rally against them even more, rather than giving up on hard struggles when faced with a strong opposition,
The need for reorganising ourselves in a constructive manner against the seemingly mainstream rightwing was epitomsied in Sarah Marshs’ ““I hate cynicism; you have to fight” 1960s activists on Modern Politics” article in the Guardian. It has made me realise that every generation growing up fights a different battle – whether it was a World War, Civil rights movement, Womens liberation movement, the Cold War, Genocides, etc… Every young and politically minded individual grew up with a variant of the “impending doom”.
For us today the threat of impending doom is a complex one (I’m by no means belittling the previous historical problems we had, but hindsight is a wondrous gift), globalisation, climate change, global terrorist network, rising tensions between U.S. and Russia, refugee crisis are just a few amongst many. To add to this list is now President-Elect Trump and his actions towards creating evident instability on the world’s stage with regards to nuclear weapons.
Marshs’ article is a simple but eloquent reminder that in the face of harsh struggles, instead of allowing our cynicism to take control and block any forward movement. That we need to unite, engage with our disappointment in a constructive way and find a way forward. Students are essential to this type of forward movement.
Students are known for their prolific engagement in politics. We are just starting to engage with and understand a world bigger than our homes towns and we are not quite yet lumbered with the responsibilities of adult life. We have the curiosity and the passion to question the zeitgeist, and enough autonomy to partake in events that show our disenchantment with the direction that things are heading.
This year seems to have really highlighted the fact that we have had no progression on disarmament of nuclear weapons, especially when considering the British Vote on Trident Replacement. But this does not mean that we are complacent in our vehement opposition to the replacement of Vanguard-class submarines that have the capability of causing excessive harm. We are still meeting together, still discussing how to move forward, still illustrating that we will not remain silent on this matter.
Whether you’re holding a small event at your university or school, attended a march wielded with a placard with anti-nuclear weapon sentiments, or simply RT’d and raised awareness of the dangers and illogical reasons of possessing a nuclear weapon – it is important to remain positive and forward thinking and to continue pushing for a nuclear free world!
Remove the cynicism in your life, and channel your passion by joining us in the active fight against nuclear weapons possession and proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout the world by becoming a member of YSCND today.
With the new President of the United States to be elected in less than 10 days, I’ve been following along to see what each candidate says about nuclear weapons. My love for Netflixs’ House of Cards combined with little in-depth knowledge about real American politics means that I personally find the whole American political processes nothing short of bizarre. If it wasn’t such a terrifying prospect that Trump may actually become President, I probably would have found it more comical than troublesome.
My love for Obama’s personality, combined with not being too overzealous about Clinton means that I have had a similar position to 4 year old Christopher from Las Vegas(I highly recommend watching this video if you want to see possibly the CUTEST and most hilarious opinion on US politics going). However, after Trumps confusing and nonsensical comments on nuclear weapons, it has made many seriously doubt his competency to be in charge of such a force.
Obama hasn’t exactly been fantastic with regards to his non-proliferation and disarmament of nuclear weapons. He gave a fantastic speech back in 2009, in which he broke the nuclear taboo and publicly announced that he wanted to seek a world where there are no nuclear bombs. This, he called “global zero”. This gave hope to many grass-roots activists of a real, progressive change.
So despite an encouraging and inspirational start to his eight years in office, which gave hope to many grass-roots campaigns like CND and other international groups, Obama has actually done seemingly extremely little for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
A new President could seriously shake up the current way America looks at its nuclear weapons. As a result, the nuclear weapon debate has come up several times across several months in the presidential debates, and rightly so. Whoever becomes the next leader of the free world will have an immense amount of power and control over one of the world’s biggest nuclear stockpiles.
Several heated discussions between Clinton and Trump have occurred over nuclear weapons, and it would be tedious to outline them all here.
However, I’ve found it very interesting the strategic move by Clinton yesterday (31st October 2016) by releasing a new TV advert, which illustrates a very powerful message Trump’s stance. It briefly highlights the historical relationship between America, its nuclear weapons and the culture of fear that many young Americans were raised in; nuclear annihilation is never too far away.
Clinton drafted in Monique Luiz, who as a child starred in a famous political attack advert about nuclear weapons during the 1964 presidential race between Johnson and Goldwater. The original advert depicts a young girl, who is standing in a field plucking the petals off of a flower and counting down. When the girl reaches 10, the camera zooms into her eye until you see the notorious mushroom cloud explosion that is synonymous with nuclear obliteration.
In the 2016 “Daisy” advert, Luiz encourages citizens to vote for Clinton on the basis that Trump’s temperament and rhetoric surrounding nuclear weapons is deeply disconcerting. Fundamentally the aim of this advert is illustrate the horrors that could potentially ensue if nuclear weapons are within reach of such an unpredictable character like Mr. Trump.
“The fear of nuclear war that we had as children, I never thought our children would ever have to deal with that again” – Luiz, 2016 (the Daisy Girl)
To me however, it highlighted something a little more than that. Not only is it a terrifying prospect if Trump would have unequivocal access to nuclear weapons, but the remake of this advert speaks volumes about how little we have progressed in respects to global non-proliferation and multilateral disarmament. For an advert to hold as much significance in 1964 as it does in 2016 is quite frankly demoralising and distressing.
Think of what the world was like in 1964, and how far we’ve come since then on a varying array of areas.
Nelson Mandela began his prison sentence in South Africa.
Robert McNamara gave US military increased resources to fight in Vietnam.
The Civil Rights Movement was still ongoing.
Khrushchev was still leader of the Soviet Union.
Harold Wilson became the first Labour party Prime Minister for over 13 years.
Che Guevara addressed the U.N.
Nicholas Cage was born!
All of these events are historical moments in time that are now subject to history textbooks. Everything has come such a long way from this date; Nelson Mandela was President of South Africa, Vietnam won the war and the Soviet Union no longer exists. Yet we still have the exact same fears about nuclear weapons as we did then.
It’s incomprehensible, that in a modern and globalised world that has seen so many fantastic progressions across the board, that we still have the same, basic security fears that we had over 50 years ago. Nothing has significantly changed, with specific regards to nuclear weapons, over that period of time enough for this fear to be removed from our collective societal worries.
The lack of progress on disarmament and non-proliferation is disheartening. In over 50 years, we are still discussing the same worries to our global security due to nuclear weapons. Clinton’s PR team have done a fantastic job focusing on Trump’s unreliability of being in possession of America’s nuclear button.
But in my eyes, they’ve done an even better job at emphasising the sad reality that global security still mirrors the same nuclear concerns from over 50 years ago and that the nuclear capable states need to be leading the way forward towards multilateral disarmament.
**Please note, the views expressed in this piece are that of the individual, and not representative of CND as an organisation***
Monday 24th October 2016 marked the beginning of the UN disarmament week. This week was called for in the Final Document of the General Assembly 1978 special session on Disarmament. Why the 24th October? This date was particularly chosen because it marks the anniversary of the inception of the United Nations. It offers a chance for reflection on the world and its relationship with nuclear weapons.
As the UN celebrates its 71st birthday, it has been widely recognised as a positive force, and that despite all of the criticism that the UN may have faced, there is still an ever-growing need to fight for positive progression in creating a more stable and peaceful world – particularly with regards to nuclear issues.
Although our generation is lucky to have not lived through a world war like the generations before us, it is important that we do not forget the importance of global security and a way to successfully implement it by learning significant lessons from the past.
The connection between the cessation of a global war and the creation of an inter-governmental organisation is extremely prevalent, especially today. While the potential threats have changed dramatically since the start of the UN (chiefly because the technology since then has become so advanced), the overall aim of international peace has not wavered.
No one wants a repeat of the World Wars or the Cold War. In spite of several countries refusing to get rid of their nuclear weapons, and others decidedly blocking legislation that would encourage global disarmament (ahem Australia!), there have been several important steps over the previous year’s towards ultimately achieving global nuclear disarmament.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The International Atomic Energy Agency. Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. SALT talks which turned into the New START talks between Russia and the U.S. Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (PTBT). United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA). This list is just scraping the top of the barrel when it comes to the vast amount of grass-roots movements, organisations and agencies that all work towards a shared goal of nuclear disarmament.
There are also region agreements against nuclear weapons and the implementation of Nuclear Weapon Free Zones, which current encompasses 39% of the global population. So just over a third of the planet live in completely nuclear free areas!
Even with several failings of the UN to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons in its totality, the world has seen several (aforementioned) outstanding contributions towards global disarmament of nuclear weapons – which are all little stepping stones towards the final goal.
Most notable of these global contributions to the disarmament of nuclear weapons is the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) which came into force in 1970. The United Kingdom is a signatory of the NPT, and fundamentally the renewal of Trident in July 2016 means that we have flouted our agreement of non-proliferation and to begin disarming ourselves.
“The elimination of nuclear weapons would also free up vast amounts of resources… The consequences of any further use of nuclear weapons, whether intentional or by mistake, would be horrific. When it comes to our common objective of nuclear disarmament, we must not delay—we must act now.” Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations General Secretary (2015) 
Over 45 years after signing this international agreement, we are continuing to ignore our prior commitments.
Even though the NPT talks were held in the United States, the US have not done particularly well with regards to meeting its obligations to the NPT. However, this was thought to have changed one fateful day in 2009 in Prague. Regardless of your personal thoughts on Barack Obama, he has set a new precedent for American Presidents of the future in his speech in Prague in 2009, by stating that the current US Administration is the idea of “global zero”.
Global zero is the idea nuclear weapons and capability for every country will be non-existent in the foreseeable future. The idea that we should not accept any governments renewing their military and civilian nuclear stores at a ridiculous expense (£205 billion for the UK, and $1 trillion in the USA) whilst they remain signatories of international treaties that oblige them to begin disarming. And we should not allow for the possibility that nuclear weapons have the potential to fall into the wrong or untrustworthy sources, which could potentially mean that the world is not safe from nuclear threat.
Was Obama’s Prague 2009 speech filled with hollow rhetoric? Potentially.
Does it seem wholly utopian and unattainable? Not really.
Obama was realistic when he said that it may not happen in his lifetime. In fact, it may not happen in the generation after him, or even the generation after that! What is important to remember, especially during Disarmament Week, is how far we have already come. But it is even more important to note how far we have yet to go…
Its cliché to for it to be a comparison, but I’m going to push the boat out and say it anyway. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream which he shared with a group of protesters at the “March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom” in 1963, which reverberated throughout the world and is one of the most well-known speeches ever given. At the time of the speech, it didn’t feel like in his life time there would be quality. Lo and behold, with the passion and fervour of thousands of people working towards this shared infamous dream, it is now a reality.
If we continue to work towards the shared goal of a nuclear weapon free world, and we keep pushing a little bit further towards our goal, we may one day too achieve our dream.
Despite Obama not pursuing his great passion for his vision of a great nuclear free world, it is still of significance that he said it. Being the leader of the free world with such clear aims can only reverberate positivity across the four corners of the earth. Obama has broken a nuclear taboo which many presidents before him have failed to address so publicly and with such disdain.
This year within Nuclear Disarmament Week, on Thursday 27th October 2016, there was an important document signed which 123 countries have voted to support negotiations for a global nuclear ban at the United Nations General Assembly today. Resolution L41 was adopted by the First Committee and means ban treaty negotiations will be convened in 2017. Just 38 countries voted against the resolution and 16 abstained. Again, this is another incredibly important step. One that must neither be under or overestimated.
As a period of reflection, the UN Disarmament Week is good for shining the light on what the world is doing for Nuclear Disarmament as a whole. It highlights the sheer amount of people who are in agreement that nuclear disarmament is still in the fore of peoples minds and illustrates the sheer determination to people whom have dedicated their lives to achieving change. Not only is this important for the morale of the grass-roots campaigners who can visibly see that change is happening from the top down (no matter how slowly!) – but it is also a clear message to countries across the world that humanity will not tolerate, or quietly accept, a severe increase in nuclear weaponry.
***Please note: the pictures are a compilation of general UN Disarmament Posters that were found online**
Having been a fresher just over three years ago, I can remember the palpable mixture of excitement and nerves, heading around the stalls in your strict groups of 7 people that you now share a flat with, having not known any of them existed the previous week. LMU Freshers fair reminded me of the vast pool of opportunities that are ahead of you in the first few weeks of university.
Amongst the numerous stalls in the LMU hall, CND put up our colourful stall and we stood at the ready with tablets, temporary peace tattoos and badges eagerly awaiting the influx of students. As a single-issue campaign organisation, our message is pretty clear. No Nuclear Weapons. No Trident replacement. No Nuclear Power.
Being politically active and engaged for the first time can be a little bit daunting. A number of students at LMU initially retreated by saying “but, I’m not political.”
However, when posed with the questions;
“Do you agree with Nuclear weapons?” – “No.” “Do you support the government spending £205 billion on Trident replacement?” – “No.” “Do you wish the government could spend that amount of money on your current education and future jobs?” – “Yes.”
Being politically active doesn’t mean you have to grab your soapbox, stand in Speakers Corner by Hyde Park and scream your heart out. Nor does it mean that you have to watch the Andrew Marr show religiously or read Private Eye every fortnight. If you have strong opinions about government choices and you actively want to be a part of the change, you are political.
By giving your e-mail to a direct action campaign, like CND, you are taking a small step into a world of grass-roots protest. At LMU alone we managed to collect over 200 signatures. These signatures and e-mail addresses will be sent to the government to show the howthousandsof students, all across the UK, are disappointed with the replacement of Trident in the face of increasing cuts to student bursaries and increased student fees.
For the past few years, “millennials” have been constantly mocked and accused of not being politically interested or engaged. We are accused of spending all of our time devoted to mindless social media, reality TV shows and spending money solely on booze and nights out. Yet the engagement that we received from such an eclectic mix of students at LMU fly’s in the face of the idea that the youth don’t care.
Initially, we were greeted by the Sabbatical Officer and deputy President for LMU Students Union Barbara Ntumy who readily signed up to our petition and wielded herself with a placard (pictured above in the red jacket). The majority of students we engaged with knew immediately about the catastrophic result of the recent Trident vote, grabbed our tablets and sign-up sheets to proudly voice their concern.
Even if they hadn’t heard of CND specifically, the vast majority new and disliked Trident and the government’s proposal to replace it. Once they’d signed our campaign sheets, taken advantage of the free peace tattoos and played around with our placards, many asked us exactly how much the government was spending on the replacement of Trident. Unfortunately, that answer is £205 billion.
Two-hundred and five billion pounds.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think anyone can truly comprehend that amount of money. Even one billion pounds seems pretty intangible to me if I’m honest, let alone 205 of those. This is the figure that CND have estimated that Trident will cost over the course of its lifetime. This is a worryingly huge amount, given in current economic climate of austerity in Great Britain.
Imagine the amazing and incredible resources that university’s and schools could acquire if we pumped this money into them. Imagine how our NHS would look with the heightened care the public would receive from well-paid and well-rested staff with good resources. Imagine how the money would ease the housing crisis that we are currently facing in the UK exponentially. The possibilities are endless if you consider where else the Trident pay-cheque could be spent, to create a more direct and positive impact on our lives.
“the very same people who made the argument for austerity are now telling us that we can afford to write a blankcheque for these useless weapons”
This blank cheque could be better spent on a many number of things that our government have cut in the previous few years in power. At CND, we focus on four areas in which we think are priority issues, which we have hashtags for in order to put all discussion around these topics in the same place;
Particularly amongst students, there was a strong feeling of resentment towards the Tory government for the increased cuts towards university bursaries and the increased student fees to the ridiculous £9,000 a year. Specifically at LMU, who are renowned for having a particularly green and clean university campus, the #ClimateNotTrident was also a prevalent campaign many wished to pursue.
Having spent several hours talking about and discussing Trident with students at LMU, and having spoken to students all across the UK previously, we are certain that young adults and students have a strong opinion on the replacement of Trident. In extension, many of the youth would not consider nuclear weapons to be a significant security threat looking forward. These are the groups of people for whom the Cold War is within history books and not on the television, they have grown up with global terrorism being the prevalent threat instead of nuclear war.
Student and youth engagement generally in politics is on the rise, especially in the wake of Brexit, Labour Coups and an increase of MP resignations in 2016 alone. Whatever you may personally think of the Milibaes and the Corbynista’s, they are emerging groups of dedicated and passionate young adults who are engaging with politics in a new, humorous and exciting way. We urge you, regardless of your political leniency, to sign the petition that over 200 students signed last week at the LMU Freshers Fair.
We currently have 4 university societies set up across the UK; Stirling, Goldsmiths, York and SOAS – and we want CND to become a staple society at most universities with your help! The example below is by no means the only way in which you can run your society, but is simply a starting point for those of you who are passionate about the campaign but are about overwhelmed by where to start.
Being a recognised Student Union Society
Each university will have their own individual way in which you can start up a society. It will most likely involve a little bit of paperwork and an initial overview of what your society’s activities will entail. Although a little time-consuming, these are normally relatively straight forward if you have an initial idea of the day-to-day running of your society.
For example; Southampton University Student Union (US) has an online form which you fill out to create an affiliated group. Whereas London Metropolitan Student Union (Met SU) has a 13-page “New Society Pack” which you fill out and send to them to get started. Go online or speak to your Student Union directly to find out the most effective way to get started.
Please do not hesitate to contact us directly if you have any queries that you think we might be able to help you with whilst in this initial phase of setting up.
Basic things to organise
Students are incredibly flexible, and almost everyone that is a part of your society will have a completely different timetable – so the first thing would be to decide a meeting time where you think that most people will be able to attend.
Once you have agreed on a meeting time which is good for your members, it is good to book a room within your Student Union. If it’s on campus, all of the students at your university will have access to it and are likely to know where to go.
This would normally be done in the preliminary stages of getting an affiliated group with your Student Union – however this may not be automatic and you may need to get in contact with them again to book a room separately.
You should consider a membership fee for your Society. To begin with, it is likely that your society will be low on money and this would be a good way to get some initial funds. Have a look to see what other societies with similar aims/outcomes to yours are charging their members. If you mirror the standard price, you won’t make the mistake of overcharging people and it being so high that people won’t join, but also it won’t be too low that it won’t really benefit you in the long run.
Once you have permission to be a society, an agreed time and meeting place – now is the time to promote!! The most effective way to do this is flyering (outside the library, Student Union building or the busiest places on campus are the best places to start) and via your Facebook or Twitter.
Fresher’s fayre / stall check-list
If you are lucky enough to be starting your society up at the beginning of term/semester and you have the opportunity to have a stall at a fayre to promote – do so! This is the most convenient way to get your society seen, and by people who are open-minded and willing to join a new society.
Ensure that your stall has a table cover (to make it look more professional), you have leaflets and information about CND as a whole, or your society-specific information. Have badges, tattoos, resources. Students come to student fayres for FREE STUFF. So if you have peace stickers or badges, anything to give away for free with the CND symbol on it would be great.
Bring a laptop / tablet, so people can sign up to your mailing list or join your Facebook group directly. Many students at fresher’s fayres will seem interested in your society… but once they walk away from you onto the next stall they are likely to forget! Don’t take it personally, but make sure that you captivate the student’s attention – and grab their e-mail addresses so you can keep in contact with them afterwards.
One good example of something to do at a fresher’s fayre is to have a photo campaign. Have a placard or something of interest for the students to have a photo with and get them actively involved by taking a picture of them. This is a really great way to show your creativity, but also ensuring that the students go out of their way to find the photo of themselves on your Facebook account. This way, if the students manage to avoid giving you their e-mail address for your mail list – you have an increased chance of finding them on your Facebook group and keeping them in touch with your society that way.
Before the fair, draw up a rota for the stall – you’ll want at least two people on it at a time, and you won’t want to be sitting there all day! Make sure there are enough of you at the beginning and end of the day to set up and take down the stall.
Also, make a list of everything you need and are going to take to make sure you’ve got it all ready. Be sure to bring scissors, sellotape and blue-tack because they always come in handy in some way that you never realised. Make sure everyone knows where they need to be, and when.
At the fayre
Make sure you get there with plenty of time to set up before all the students arrive! Ensure your stall is eye-catching – if you don’t have a big banner or backdrop, maybe wear CND t-shirts to make it immediately obvious who you are. When it comes to attracting visitors, freebies are always a winner! Bring a bucket-load of penny sweets, a tub of chocolates – or if you have time, bake a batch of personalised cupcakes or cookies.
Engage with everyone – say hello, ask them questions, offer them a leaflet, ask them to sign up for your emails. If possible, don’t sit behind the stall and wait for people to come and talk to you; they’re much more likely to respond if you approach them first. When talking to people, be as open and accessible as possible.
Many may never have been involved in activism before, so avoid using acronyms or jargon, or talking in too much detail about subjects many people may not be familiar with. Some may be intimidated by the idea of activism and protest, so explain that there are loads of different ways of campaigning – from meetings to leafleting to direct action.
Furthermore, CND is general quite a serious topic – so try not to come across as too intense! Not only is the point of a society to make a real, grassroots change and have a tangible impact with our aims, but it is also to mingle and meet like-minded people – and especially as a uni society, everyone is there to have fun!
Ellie Kinney, from Goldsmiths CND, said that the best way to engage and start a discussion with new students who don’t know anything about CND is starting with…
‘we’re a society that campaigns to stop the Government spending £205 billion on nuclear weapons, and tell them spend it on education or the NHS instead’, that way it doesn’t sound too intimidating to anyone not involved in campaigning before.
As you are highlighting the clear link between the replacement of Trident and student cuts, you are showing the student the real impact that the government policy will have upon their individual lives – if we didn’t have this ridiculous cost for Trident, the government may have supported students with better grants and loans. This will be a great way of encouraging people to partake in our campaign, as it is something that affects them directly.
Your first meeting
Make sure your first meeting is as open, accessible, and social as possible. The week after Freshers Week is the best time for a first meeting, because it’s soon enough that people won’t forget, but it’s not happening during the time when people want to be out having fun with their new flatmates.
Keep it informal – a good start would be an introduction to CND’s aims and campaigns, or an introduction to the UK’s nuclear weapons. PowerPoints and short films are always a good way to help introduce the massive topic that is Nuclear Disarmament.
Remember to send an email reminder the day before using the mailing list from the fresher’s fair. Most universities have their own bulk mailing system – however if yours does not, or you are unsure of how to use it, Mail Chimp is a fantastic and free alternative.
Free food is always a draw! Advertising the meeting as a ‘Welcome social with tea and cake’ is likely to attract far more people than just a ‘CND society meeting.’
At the meeting, give a brief talk about your chosen topic. You should be able to find all the information you need in our briefings and info sheets. You could structure the talk around the history of CND, its original aims, some of its most notable campaigns, and where we are now – or you could give an outline of the main arguments against nuclear weapons.
As you know, CND is a serious topic – and you don’t want to put people off by introducing it as a big, impossible and daunting task! Simply give them the foundations of CND, but make it as light-hearted as you can.
At the meeting, get people enthusiastic about being involved. Make it clear what your aims are for the next few months, and how you plan to get there. Talk about any events you have planned, and give examples of what other CND societies have achieved – give your members something to aspire to!
Give students the opportunity to take on a committee role within the society. (see below for more a more detailed list of potential committee roles). After the meeting, you might want to go off to a nearby pub or the Union bar so people can get to know each other a bit more. You’re much more likely to get people to keep coming back to meetings when they know a few of the other people there, and know that there’ll be a drink at the end of it.
Make sure you follow up the meeting with an email thanking everyone for coming and reminders about your next event. Keep your social media accounts active, so it’s easy for anyone to see what you’re up to and get involved.
Your first month as a society
By now you will be in the full swing of things with your society. As a new society, things will constantly change to suit different people’s needs and wants, and this is to be expected! Good communication between the committee and members is the best way to ensure that everyone is happy with the direction that the society is going.
Josh Foskett, from University of York CND (UoY CND) said,
“We make sure to have weekly meetings, which usually have a specific draw to them: i.e. one week we might be bringing in our local MP, the next we might be watching Threads. I think it works really well for engagement when you can try to consistently put on “an event” as such, rather than just a standard meeting (although these can work really well in lower amounts to fill the gaps)”
It would probably be best to have a semester long campaign (either two or three campaigns a year max!). This way, you and your members can really get your teeth stuck into a campaign. Get prominent people involved, invite local MPs, have speakers to come in and hold a debate within your society.
The great thing about having a university society is the sheer volume of different things you are allowed to try. You can get as creative as you want to with your campaigns, protests, meetings and fundraisers.
Ideally, you would meet weekly – this way you are more likely to keep people engaged with your society as a whole and are more likely to keep members engaged. If you decide one week not to have a meeting, do encourage the group to get together, even if it’s for a social night or a coffee afternoon.
In addition, it would be good in the first several weeks to arrange a fundraiser. This will achieve two things; firstly, it will show that you are a pro-active society that is worth remaining a member for, and secondly, you will increase your funds that you have to play with in the future for other events. Funds are important to get more resources, subsidising member’s travel of going to National CND events or to see how much money you can raise and give to CND at the end of the year!
An overview of your society
Generally speaking the overview of your society will be whatever you think is best for you and the members of the group! Whether you have two or three campaigns, or decide its best to stick to a yearlong campaign is completely your choice – it will be whatever suits your society’s needs.
With regards to the committee members, here is an example of the six potential committee roles you may decide you would like, and also general expectations of the other members. You may not have the need for 6 committee members, as most university’s require you to only have three (generally President, Secretary and Treasurer) but this will give you an idea of the roles you need to fill between yourselves.
As the title suggests, this is the person in charge. This person’s duties include:
Organising/running the weekly meetings and any additional events.
Making sure that all events conform to any health and safety regulations and are cost/time effective.
Dealing with any problems the society has.
When doing group or collaborative events, meeting with the president of the other society and making sure everything works.
Just in general be awesome, relatively relaxed if there is a problem and being good at dealing with anything that happens.
Similar to the President as said above, however you don’t get blamed if it all goes wrong. This person’s duties include:
Most of the above and is mainly there to help take some of the pressure of the President/fill in for them if they are ill, have work or any other reason.
Sometimes if the society has many commitments, and need to be in two places at once, the Vice President acts as second in command
The person with all the money!!!! … Sort of. This person’s duties include:
Looking after the society’s bank account (all of the information and expectations of this role will likely be a part of the application/affiliation process at the beginning of this!! Again, all uni’s will be different so it is important to adhere to any specific requirements)
If any resources are going to be brought/any event or trip is going to be subsidised, then it is the role of the treasurer to make sure that it fits into the budget given to by your Student Union
Good for anyone who likes list and organisation. This person’s duties include:
Taking the minutes of a meeting (Writing down everything that has been going on and making sure that anyone who wasn’t at the meeting knows what’s going on – it is good to post these on Facebook for either all the committee to see/or all your members – depending on how transparent you’d like to the society to be).
Contacting other people/groups/societies such as the societies
Supplying the snacks/biscuits for general and committee meetings (this is an optional task and can be applicable to anyone of the committee members you decide!)
Publicity officer / Web Wizard
For anyone with an artistic flair and a creative mind. This person’s duties include:
Making posters/leaflets for the weekly meetings as well as for any special event such as showing films and any stalls outside Student Union.
Writing/sending the weekly emails to everyone.
Running the Facebook/Twitter/Instagram page.
Keep in contact with YSCND – keep them updated about everything that you get up to, and they will publish it on their main website
For people who like to party! This person’s duties include:
Organising social gatherings for the society. This can be from going to clubs, pubs, to Laser tag or to meals out. Anything that involves getting the CND society (and possibly other societies) getting together for fun.
General things expected of all members
To be able to attend most meetings (obviously there will be times with essays, deadlines and illness when you can’t to this).
To behave in a responsible way and take the society seriously.
To keep an eye on what is going on with National CND and YSCND. We don’t expect everyone to be completely up to date on every issue, but to have some general knowledge.
Most importantly to want to work with a team of people to help change the world by fighting towards non-proliferation and disarmament!
If you are successful in setting up a society at your university, please get in contact with Youth and Student CND and let us know! We can offer you support and guidance throughout your time at university with regards to the CND society; giving you some ideas, sending resources or simply promoting your events on our Twitter and Facebook accounts.
As the academic year begins, the excitement of moving to new place, living independently and meeting new people is sadly met with financial worry for many students. September welcomes in the first year of new students starting university since George Osborne announced he was scrapping the maintenance grant, a vital lifeline given to help students from low income backgrounds cover rent, food and bills. Instead, students from low income backgrounds will find themselves leaving university with around £3000 more debt that those from a privileged background. According to the Chancellor, there was a ‘basic unfairness’ in the taxpayer aiding less privileged students to thrive at university.
Youth and Student CND believes there’s a basic unfairness in charging £9000 a year for education, slashing funding of schools and colleges, and forcing students from low income backgrounds to take out larger loans while committing to spend over £200billion on nuclear weapons. Our nuclear weapons system remains outdated and unnecessary, not protecting us from the main security threats facing us and certainly doesn’t invest in our future. Free education is a valuable investment and is far from an unachievable goal- whilst our university fees are the highest in Europe, Germany, Sweden and Norway are just some of the countries offering a successful system of free university education.
But before you up sticks and move to Norway, join Youth and Student CND in sending out the message to our Government that we won’t accept their austerity education! We’re holding a rally on November 24th to declare ‘No War! No Austerity!’ and unite student activists from across anti-war and anti-austerity campaigns. We think it’s refreshing to hear Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal of a National Education Service, investing money into education to enable people of all ages and backgrounds to access education and training at any stage in their life- this is why we’re excited to welcome John McDonnell to join us for our rally. A far cry from ex-Chancellor Osborne who waged war on education, McDonnell believes education is a right, not a privilege, and we couldn’t agree more.