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York students seeking NUS withdrawal described as “transphobic” by campaigner

Image credit: The Yorker
Image credit: The Yorker
Image credit: The Yorker

Students wishing for the University of York Student Union (YUSU) to leave the National Union of Students (NUS) have been described as “transphobic” by a transgender rights campaigner.

Ashley Reed, the former LGBTQ Officer of YUSU and founder of the satirical news website Campus Rag, took to Twitter on Friday to voice her frustration at the desire of over thirty students from numerous political societies for YUSU to abandon the NUS.


Last week, Reed said that all the York political parties are “shit” and also described the cross-political movement to leave the NUS as the “Axis of Awful.”


Reed also disclosed her opposition to ‘one member, one vote’ (OMOV), a motion submitted by YUSU at the 2016 conference in Brighton, saying that it would silence the voices of minorities.

The Yorker approached Reed for clarification of the views expressed in the Tweets, but she declined to comment.

Over thirty students have signed an open letter to the student union, calling for YUSU to depart the NUS following controversial events at the 2016 conference in Brighton. In particular, these students oppose the election of Malia Bouattia as the organisation’s president, stating that she cannot be trusted to represent Jewish students on campus. Secondly, the rejection of OMOV has been described as undemocratic. Furthermore, the NUS’s discussions over the anonymous social media platform Yik Yak were “laughable.”

A draft of the open letter was leaked to the campus publication Nouse on Thursday 21. However, Stephen Harper has clarified that the leaked letter was not the finished document and that the signatories should not be held exactly to the articulated statement.

In response to these allegations, The Yorker can produce a statement, kindly provided by Ciarán Morrissey, on behalf of all of ‘No2NUSYork’:

We are very disappointed to have such loaded and baseless accusations levied against us so early into this campaign. This is about York’s continued affiliation with the NUS, nothing more, nothing less. Blanket accusations of transphobia are not only false, they are a deliberately damaging attempt to smear a grassroots, pro-democratic campaign at the university. We hope the debate can evolve away from such insults and into a more productive discussion of the pros and cons of NUS membership, so that students at the university can make an informed decision when they go to the polls. None of us are transphobic, and we expect those arguing the opposite case to rise above personal attacks and defend the NUS as an institution. We will continue to argue the NUS is an undemocratic and unaccountable organisation.

Members of No2NUSYork are expected to propose a referendum on YUSU’s membership of the NUS at the YUSU AGM later today.