The SU has been accused of “undermining the democratic process” by using its social media accounts to urge people to vote leave in the current NUS referendum.
Voting in the referendum opened yesterday morning and at the same time, a post by the University of Lincoln Students’ Union (SU) on its Facebook page urged people to vote to leave the NUS.
The post features an image of the SU’s President and four Vice-Presidents under the banner: “Leave NUS. Vote No in the referendum.”
A message at the top of the post read: “We believe that we should disaffiliate from the NUS.
“The SU spend over £58,000 on NUS affiliation annually, but our students are not seeing the benefits of this.
“That money could be better spent directly on students at the University of Lincoln; on advice services, sports and societies and more campaigns that are relevant to out students.”
The message then contained a link where students could vote.
After receiving several complaints over social media, the SU’s Returning Officer released a statement later yesterday that read:
“We have recently received several complaints from students regarding the NUS referendum and the SU’s decision to use its social media accounts to promote its stance on the referendum.
“There is nothing in the bye-laws that states that this is not allowed to occur. It is apropriate on some occasions for the union’s Executive Committee, and thus the SU, to have a position on a matter, as its electorate would expect it to offer a view on decisions taken to referendum.
“It is the responsibility of the Returning Officer to uphold the governance surrounding referenda, and as such, I find no reason to uphold these complaints.”
But in a statement to The Linc, the Campaign for Lincoln Democracy group said: “The argument that technically no bye-laws are broken is a weak defence.
“Allowing the union’s resources to be used for one side of the debate exclusively gives that side an enormously unfair advantage and undermines the democratic process.
“The statement put out that ‘the union wants to disaffiliate’ is also untrue – the whole point of this referendum is to decide what the union’s position is.
“If the officers have a view they should express it as individuals – they are not the union on their own, we all are.
“It’s time for a properly democratic Students’ Union.”
Voting in the referendum will close at 9am on Tuesday morning.