What does the NUS do for us? No, seriously, can you name one benefit we get from the NUS apart from the discount card? In most cases, the answer in no. We don’t think about it that much, but considering our student’s union pays tens of thousands of pounds a year to be affiliated, you would like to think being a member would be in students’ best interests. The problem is this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The last sentence of the NUS’ mission statement claims “We are 7 million student voices”, however, however those at the recent national conference didn’t seem to get the message. The motions and amendments discussed and passed highlighted the regressive left’s stranglehold on the conference and how the views of most of the delegates do not represent those of the average student. Although passing motions boycotting the NSS and restricting social media accounts during SU elections stood out, they all paled in comparison to amendment 404a. Not only did two delegates argue against commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day, but both received applause.
Sadly, the organisation’s issues with anti-Semitism do not stop there. The newly elected president, Malia Bouattia, has a troubling track record that severely undermines her election promise to “put liberation at the heart of everything [the NUS] do”. Past actions include claiming the University of Birmingham was “something of a Zionist outpost”, suggesting we have a “Zionist-led media”, working with CAGE (a group who previously described ISIS executioner ‘Jihadi John’ as a “beautiful young man”), and opposing a NUS motion condemning ISIS, claiming its wording was Islamophobic.
It is doubtful that someone with such an apauling tack record would have been elected if the voting system had been different. The NUS’s structure means that only those at the national conference were allowed to vote in the presidential and vice-presidential elections. When only 700 members out of 7 million students decide the organisation’s leaders, it should surprise no-one that so many students feel disillusioned.
I am sure those who were able to get elected within the NUS in its current form will be campaigning to get SUs to remain, proclaiming that it is better to stay and reform from within. Sadly, this argument doesn’t hold water, especially at our University where our SU president has had the chance to make changes as a member of the NEC (the most powerful elected body outside national conference). A prime example of the failure to enact much-needed reform was the vote at this year’s conference to change the election process for presidents to one member, one vote. Not only was the important proposal treated with contempt, but it was resoundingly voted down.
In my view, it’s clear that the NUS no longer represents the views of the majority students and is impossible to reform from within. In the upcoming months students at Leicester will have the chance to make a stand and vote to leave as one of 25 universities across the country holding a referendum on its NUS membership. If you want to be a part of our campaign to make this happen, get involved by liking our FB page (facebook.com/leicesterleaveNUS) and sign our petition.
By Nick Frost