My Week: Aaron Porter

The new president of the National Union of Students reflects on a nerve-racking election triumph
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The Independent Online

Monday

I'm hugely busy preparing for the National Union of Students (NUS) conference in Newcastle. I'm 25 and I've been involved in student politics since doing my degree in English Literature at the University of Leicester.

I'm now vice-president of the NUS, though on Wednesday I'm standing for president. Today it's my job to meet and greet the delegates from all over the country and to familiarise myself with the city. It's the first time we've held the event since moving the conference from Blackpool so it's new territory for everyone.

Tuesday

I start the day with my usual bowl of Weetabix, no sugar. It's nice to be out of London because it usually takes me an hour-and-a-half to get to work, always facing the perils of the Underground. There isn't really a typical day in my job – it's a range of campaigning, lobbying and meeting students and staff, but it depends on the issues of the day. Today is day one of the conference and there are some intense policy debates, particularly on lowering the voting age to 16, something I'm hugely in favour of. People can join the Army at 16, so why should they be barred from voting?

Wednesday

The second day of the conference is incredibly busy. I'm on BBC news in the morning before the NUS presidential election. I'm nervous, a few butterflies in the stomach, but I have an equal measure of confidence. After the reaction I received yesterday I really feel I can win. When I find out that I have won I'm absolutely elated and get really excited about the year ahead. The fate of current students and those of tomorrow rests on the shoulders of NUS. It's a humbling but focusing thought. Thankfully I'm able to have a few pints in the evening to celebrate.

Thursday

I watch the party leaders' TV debate with a few of the people who've been helping me with my own election. Watching the leaders is great; it's nice to see someone else going through the torture of a campaign. I think the debates are a great innovation and it's a huge step forward to have them. It's a good chance to see a little bit of the personal side of the candidates, but the sterile atmosphere detracts from the debate a lot; the audience should really be allowed to react. It's clear that the two main parties are keen to take the fight to one another and I respect that.

Friday

I'm up at 6 and the day is a return to reality after the conference and the election. I make a keynote speech at a Higher Education Academy conference at the University of Glamorgan. I wouldn't say I'm a workaholic. Yes, my job can be tiring, but I enjoy nothing more than going around the country and putting forward the student cause. It's where I'm in my element. In the evening, I finally see my mum in London for some home cooking and there's a bottle of champagne on ice. Rare pleasures after a hectic but satisfying week.

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