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Referendum in sight, says ‘No2NUS York’ campaign

Image credit: The Huffington Post
Image credit: The Huffington Post
Image credit: The Huffington Post

The University of York is destined to hold a referendum on the student union’s membership of the National Union of Students (NUS), says the ‘Yexit’ campaigning group No2NUS York.

Just under seven hundred students have contributed their names and support to a petition to the student union’s trustees, requesting an earlier opportunity for York’s students to decide on their university’s position in the NUS. To achieve an extraordinary referendum, nine hundred signatures are needed.

“The two referendums in Newcastle and Lincoln demonstrated that we’re part of a strong national movement and that the NUS is neither the organisation that we need nor deserve,” a spokesman for No2NUS York informed The Yorker.

No2NUS York is working in conjunction with the University of York Student Union (YUSU) to hold a referendum in Week 8 of the Summer Term. “[YUSU has] been more than willing to help us and we look forward to holding a clean campaign under them,” said the No2NUS York spokesman.

The Yorker has heard that the national campaign is comprised of a notable amount of right-leaning students who believe that the NUS is an organisation that works against the political Right. However, No2NUS York contends that this is an inaccurate description. The spokesman continued:

The NUS is trying to portray this fight as one of ‘right vs left’ and that is totally inaccurate. The true progressive argument is that for disaffiliation, and this cynical manipulation of students won’t work. Whether you are liberal, socialist or conservative, the fact remains that the NUS does not represent us. At York, I am proud to say that we are running the most pluralistic campaign this campus has ever seen. To look around a room and see Labour, Conservatives, Lib Dems, Greens and UKIP all nodding together in agreement is truly extraordinary. This isn’t a fight for any one party’s political supremacy – this is a fight against a warped and broken organisation which illegitimately and undemocratically claims to be the voice of all students.

York’s membership in the National Union has divided opinion on campus. Those in favour of staying within the national body have appealed to the funding the NUS provides York, discounts and the NUS’s past achievements in representing students in the United Kingdom. Those against have criticised the alleged anti-Semitic opinions of the new President, Malia Bouattia, various decisions made at the recent Brighton conference, and the NUS’s preference for representative democracy over direct democracy.

“The only way the NUS changes is if we make it. If you believe that the NUS is a self-serving clique, why remove one of the strongest voices trying to break through it?” remarked the YUSU Sabbatical Officer for Activities, Chris Wall, in an article for the campus newspaper Nouse. “There is no alternative, there is only alienation. Students across the UK lose a national voice and in the process make things worse on our campus.”

Besides York, Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick and a handful of other universities are considering holding referenda on their places in the NUS.