With voting under way, both the Leave and Remain campaigns are pushing for your votes. One argument used by both sides is the idea that the NUS needs reforming and change is needed within the organisation. The Leave campaign has said on multiple occasions that the NUS no longer represents students and that while change is needed, the Leave campaign believe this won’t happen. On the other side of the referendum the Remain camp have admitted that the NUS isn’t prefect and aren’t claiming this to be the case. But they believe that reform and change can be achieved from within the NUS. Believing the best way to make a change is change the NUS from within.
Many have been saying that with some unions having already voted to disaffiliate- including Hull, Newcastle and Lincoln and many other unions along with LSU having referendums, then why isn’t the NUS beginning its reforms now? Well the fact is that there is already a growing momentum and strive for change coming from within the NUS.
Richard Brooks, NUS Vice President, on NUS Connect following the NUS Conference, wrote about the growing disaffection with the NUS, addressing the growing calls for disaffiliation.
In this article Richard understands and admits that the NUS is not perfect but is clearly passionate and believes that the NUS has a “significant positive impact on students’ lives”. Recently the NUS has joined the fight for Trans Students’ rights, introducing a full-time Trans Officer and a Trans liberation campaign within the NUS. Along with this the NUS runs many other campaigns, including ‘Out in Sport’, lobbying the government over NHS Bursaries and the ‘Cut The Cost’ campaign.
Richard addresses the growing number of Students’ Unions thinking of disaffiliating, he states that unions are stronger together and that the only reason the NUS gets to be in national parliaments or government offices is that it is the National Union of Students, representing 7 million people through it’s 600 members. Richard believes that once that goes, there is no getting that back.
Yes, the NUS did fail to stop the rise in Tuition Fees and the scrapping of Maintenance Grants, but they did represent you. If the NUS was not as large as it is, weaker through unions leaving, then who would have represented you? Yes, unions can pressure their local MPs, students can write to MPs and sign petitions, but the NUS at the end of the day are the ones sitting in the room, representing you.
Richard concludes his article saying, “listen, I understand the concerns you have – I share many of them. But NUS is something special and worth fighting for”. The belief held by some in the NUS is that change can be achieved, but whilst this happens it is important to stand together, united and strong against many of the threats faced by students’ unions at the moment. From LSUs point of view, we will have to see whether the NUS does reform- whether we are part of that or not is up to Loughborough students.
-A comment piece from Jack Berisford
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