For the second time, the University of Lincoln’s Students’ Union is holding a referendum on whether they should remain affiliated or leave the National Union of Students (NUS). The Linc has asked both sides to argue their case. In this article, we hear from Michael Daniell of Keep Lincoln Independent.
The idea of a collective body that represents students on a national level, whether it be post-16 education or at university, is one I wholeheartedly support.
The problem however is that the current body for such affairs, the National Union of Students, is unfit for purpose and has become an unwieldy creation ill-suited to student needs and is more for the political soapbox of a few as opposed to the needs of the many.
While many students suffer at the hands of increasing costs due to the removal of grants and the increase in housing costs, the NUS, rather than advertising or increasing awareness of existing schemes such as the NHS ‘Help with Health Costs’ (which gives low income groups – such as practically all students – free dental, optical, and prescriptions), is instead focused on ideological arguments with itself regarding comparatively minor issues that include whether there’s a need for an ‘NUS England’, if there’s really a need for gay men reps on LGBT+ committees, or arguing for prison abolition.
It doesn’t help that across the NUS they currently have over 1,000 live policies to follow.
The NUS is also causing division within itself by allowing officers to be active in party politics, hardening the image that they are nothing more than a wing of the Labour Party. For example the current VP Society & Citizenship and VP Welfare have been using their social media accounts that they use to spread their NUS work to also promote the Labour Party, including Labour groups and leadership candidates.
This not only creates the look of official ties between the two groups – putting off students from other political leanings or none at all – but could be in breach of the NUS’s own rules, which state that the organisation must be independent from any political party.
After our last NUS referendum and those by other universities around the country, the message that came from the NUS was ‘we hear you and we’ll change’ but after an entire summer the picture looks worse than before.
The NUS’s first claim of reform with the establishment of a new committee to look into racism, anti-Semitism, and fascism among others within the NUS itself was turned into a whitewash after the NUS Nationl Executive Committee (NEC) voted in favour of making it so that only NEC members would be on the panel, to the dismay of groups they claimed to be helping.
Even in the last week an open letter, once again admitting failure when it comes to anti-Semitism within the organisation – which has been signed by many of the NUS NEC – is missing notable signatures such as the President herself, clearly demonstrating the lack of commitment at the top of the organisation for meaningful change.
In conclusion it is my view that the NUS are increasingly out of touch with those they claim to represent and, with SU elections (which includes NUS Reps) only averaging 18% turnout, I can’t be the only one. We should therefore choose to keep Lincoln independent.
This article is written as a guest column by someone The Linc invited to put forward their point of view. All views are their own and they don’t necessarily represent the view of The Linc or any individual writers who work with us.Tweet