March 26, 2015
NSS: An Open Letter to Third Year Students at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University

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You’re going to cast your vote in the General Election aren’t you? Of course, you are. It’s one of the duties of responsible citizenship and a right that has been bought for you. In South Wales, where Bob and I come from, the Chartists laid down their lives at Newport, Gwent to secure a People’s Charter that would make for a more democratic country. In particular, they fought for the right of every man of twenty-one years of age to vote. That was in 1839. It took nearly eighty more years for women to secure that entitlement for themselves, following the stalwart and self-giving work of the Women’s Suffrage movement. Last year, we honoured the dead of the First World War — those that quite literally put themselves in the firing line to protect those freedoms that we have, perhaps, become too familiar with.

Voting in the National Student Survey will not change the world. That’s not the point. It’s more the principle. You have the opportunity and the obligation to speak, if not for yourselves then for those who come after you. The NSS is a small example of the general liberty that has been blood bought. Remember, the survey is not there to serve the interests of the gripers. Honest, thoughtful criticism is always welcome at the School of Art. So don’t hold back. However, the survey is also for those who wish to celebrate the quality of education and care they have received. So, if you’ve benefited, if you’ve been enriched, if you want to commend an art school which has given you the best possible introduction to your subject and the world of work …  take 1 minute, and fill it in. Not much of a sacrifice, right?


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