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Sabbs decline to take position on YUSU membership of NUS

Image: the University of York Students' Union (YUSU)
Image: the University of York Students' Union (YUSU)
Image: the University of York Students’ Union (YUSU)

All five Sabbatical Officers of the University of York Students’ Union (YUSU) have declined to state whether they believe YUSU should remain affiliated to the National Union of Students.

In the coming academic year, students at the University of York will vote on whether their Students’ Union should continue to be a part of the NUS. The vote on NUS affiliation takes place at YUSU once every three years, the most recent vote having been held in 2016.

However, none of the five Sabbatical Officers stated whether they believe YUSU should remain affiliated to the NUS when asked by The Yorker.

The YUSU President, James Durcan, the only officer to respond to questions sent by The Yorker to all five members of the Full-Time Officer Team, said that it was presently “extremely important that we explore our NUS membership before passing judgement on whether we should continue with our affiliation.”

Referring to the 2016 EU referendum, a “certain national referendum [that] highlighted the importance of understanding all the information available on the impact of remaining affiliated with, or choosing to leave,” Durcan told The Yorker that YUSU “would like to spend time over the upcoming year looking at all the implications of our membership, covering all aspects from financial to the support that the NUS provides to many of our Liberation Groups and wider student body.”

Durcan drew students’ attention to the Sabbatical Officers’ recent meeting with Amatey Doku, the NUS Vice-President for Higher Education. “[As] part of the conversations that we shared,” stated the YUSU President, “we discussed how the NUS can do more to support, represent and to interact with its membership.”

When The Yorker pressed him to offer a view on whether YUSU should remain part of the NUS, Durcan assured The Yorker that the YUSU-NUS relationship was the topic of “discussions at length” among the Sabbatical Team, from which “the consensus is that it wouldn’t be right to rule out any option without assessing all the relevant information.”

“Thus, I would argue,” concluded the YUSU President, “that we are all taking a stance, which is centred on making an evidenced-based judgement in the future, once we are fully aware of the implications of all options.”

In 2016, students voted to remain part of the NUS in a referendum brought forward following extensive controversy surrounding the NUS National Conference and the election of Malia Bouattia as the organisation’s President.

15.7% of students at York participated in the 2016 democratic exercise, with 1461 voting for YUSU to continue its association with the national organisation, beating 1233 votes against.

Amatey Doku, formerly a Sabbatical Officer of the Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU), was re-elected to his position of NUS Vice-President for Higher Education at the 2018 NUS National Conference.

The Yorker contacted Amatey Doku for comment, but received no response prior to this article’s publication.