A campaign has been launched challenging the University of Lincoln Students’ Union (SU) over its decision to leave the NUS without holding a referendum on it.

Lincoln Students' Union (SU)
The SU says the decision avoided having to pay another year’s membership fee. Photo: The Linc.

In June, the union’s Board of Trustees voted to notify the National Union of Students of its intention to disaffiliate from the group – with the leaving date currently set for the last day of December.

But campaigners say the decision should not have been taken without holding a referendum for all students to vote on the matter.

Bradley Allsop, an ex-Postgraduate Officer with the SU who has spearheaded the campaign, said: “I can understand that the NUS was struggling to be relevant for a lot of students, but the fact is that it means we don’t have that national voice.

“This hasn’t been done democratically and, similar to the debate about Brexit, I think it’s much better to stay in a group and fight to reform it than to just leave it.

“Mainly though, rather than the pros and cons of being in the NUS, this is a debate about the way in which the SU has taken such an important decision here without consulting properly.”

A petition by the campaign group calling for a referendum currently has over 100 signatures, and they intend to present it to the SU when it has reached 150.

But in an interview with¬†The Linc, the SU’s President, Cassie Coakley, said that the decision had been taken by the Board of Trustees to avoid having to pay another year of membership fees.

She said: “There’s been a lot of confusion about this, but the fact is that we haven’t left yet.

“There was a deadline of June 30 for when we had to notify them by, otherwise we’d have paid another year’s membership fee and still have been members until 2021 – which could have cost ¬£70,000.

“Our notice expires on December 31 so if on December 30 there’s a decision that we want to stay, we’ll stay.

“So we’re still consulting with students now, we just had to be proactive so that we didn’t have to pay another year’s membership.

“We have been consulting with students for around two years on this, we’ve held meetings, spoken to societies and course reps and a lot of feedback came back suggesting that students didn’t really know what the NUS was and what we got from being in it.”

A meeting for students to vote on whether to agree with the decision by the Board of Trustees has now been set for next week.

But campaigners have criticised the SU for holding the meeting when students from many courses are on reading week.

Addressing that issue, Cassie Coakley said: “That wasn’t an issue for us because reading week is a time when students should still be in Lincoln reading anyway.

“Not all courses will be on a reading week and we just had to pick a date when everyone could be there from a student, SU and legal perspective – we really do want as many students to come as possible.”

The All Student Members’ Meeting will be held on Thursday, October 31, from 3pm until 5pm in room 0312 of the Minerva Building.