Chigbo Facing Crucial CUSU Vote

CUSU was today split down the middle by a row over its membership of the National Union of Students.

CUSU was today split down the middle by a row over its membership of the National Union of Students (NUS).

Tomorrow night the CUSU Council will vote to decide whether Cambridge should break from the NUS with immediate effect.

Ben Towse, Churchill College's external officer, told The Tab  that the NUS was an "an out-of-touch waste of time, dominated by incompetent careerist New Labourites".

He continued: "They seem to care more about vacuous grandstanding and self-promotion than actually defending students’ rights".

In an online review CUSU president Tom Chigbo strongly defends affiliation, saying that "NUS campaigns in 2009/10 have provided a strong and effective national voice to students and students' unions."

He also warned that disaffiliating would "severely damage our ability to support students, defend and extend their rights at university".

However Grayden Webb, one of CUSU's NUS delegates slammed Chigbo's report calling it "inaccurate". He condemned Chigbo for expressing "a very opinionated voice when he was only asked to provide specifics".

David Lowry, former Jesus JCR President and member of the university council, added his voice to the criticism describing the NUS as an "absolute joke". He said: "As far as I can discern, the NUS's campaigns have never achieved anything."

"They failed on tuition fees, they failed on top-up fees and they failed on points-based immigration. Why we would want to be associated with their undemocratic and unsuccessful campaigns is quite frankly beyond me."

Furthermore insiders at CUSU have laughed off Chigbo's defence of the organisation, pointing to his disastrous NUS-sponsored 'Town Takeover' in November which was attended by only 200 students – just 0.5 per cent of the Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin student body.

Disaffiliation would mean that students would no longer get NUS cards, and would have to say goodbye to the discounts from favourites such as McDonalds, Topshop, Pizza Hut and many more.

In his report Chigbo hailed the NUS discount cards as the "definitive national student discount card", the loss of which he said "would result in the loss of an income stream worth thousands of pounds to CUSU". The report's figures reveal that only 770 students in Cambridge – just 4 per cent – have applied for the cards which now cost £10.

The votes of just one third of the Council will send the issue to a campus-wide referendum in late February where all students will be able to vote. The student unions at Imperial, Southampton and Edinburgh have all broken links with the NUS in recent years.

One senior source at CUSU said that Chigbo seemed confident of victory in the crucial vote. However The Tab has learnt this evening that support is growing for disafilliation, especially among disaffected JCR Presidents.

CUSU Council will debate and vote on the issue of disafilliation in their public meeting at King's College on Tuesday at 7.15.


  • Jesus loves you

    Herrmann. You complete moron. Why are you promoting this elitist Tory anti-student crap. I thought the Tab was about giving students what they wanted-I want my discounts-we're not all rich toffs from Worth Abbey

    • guest

      I can't remember the last time I was denied a student discount, despite not having an NUS card. Almost everywhere will accept your University card as sufficient evidence… I'd rather save myself the tenner and not get an NUS card!

  • J Dunne

    Disaffiliation from the NUS is a positive step. The organisation has been failing for many years because it has become too close to Labour. Wes Streeting, the President, is so blatantly pro-Labour (just check out his Twitter account) that he won't stand up for students when they need it most. And they can't even run a sustainable budget (making massive losses year on year), so they now CHARGE students for an NUS card. This means students pay TWICE because CUSU already pays an affiliation fee. Students get no value from NUS affiliation. We should ditch them now

  • Ben

    £9000 is a drop in the ocean, disaffiliation would be petulent grandstanding. How the fuck will we have more influence without the support of at least some kind of national student union? I'm voting with Tom tonight.

    • Ben Towse

      Not for CUSU, which is quite a cash-strapped union. £9000 is almost double what we spend on all the autonomous campaigns at one. It's over half a sabb's salary.

      This money could be put to any number of better uses, from funding the ethical affairs sabb students voted to get last year, to improving welfare provision (e.g. we might choose to reduce the cost of CUSU condoms), to getting our voice out directly (rather than failing to do it via an NUS leadership which ignores the opinions at our level and just says whatever it likes), or simply giving the money back to JCRs and MCRs (which could always democratically choose to affiliate individually – in fact they would have proportionately more power within the NUS this way!)

  • David

    Where precisely does this national voice come in? The NUS hasn't managed to affect any of the major issues for students over the past few years: top-up fees, points based immigration, the minimum wage, interest on student loans, the generally awful student loans company, university closures, the cuts in apprenticeships, the presentation of young people as criminals, the resistance of FE colleges to unionisation, cuts in adult education etc. etc.

    And now they've thrown their all behind an absurd campaign to monitor and control student drinking.

    Good luck getting any influence in the NUS: its structures are so complex that there is basically no way for any individual not on the NEC to influence the organisation whatsoever.

  • Will

    Herrmann – I agree with Jesus loves you: there is a definite anti-Chigbo/NUS bias to this article. But something else annoys me more.

    If, as you say, only 4% of Cambridge students bother to sign up for an NUS card, and only 0.5% show up for Tom Chigbo's campaigns, why are you running this tiresome feature as your main headline? The way in which you've spun the statistics suggests that nobody will or should care about the outcome of this vote. I can't understand why, as editor, you've opted to write such a self-trivialising article. Show some discernment – I assume that the Tab aims for more than 4% representation of the interests of Cambridge students …

    • tabeditor

      Will Johnston,

      No anti-Chigbo bias is intended – he is quoted three times in fact. Neither I, nor anyone at The Tab, is closely involved in CUSU politics. I think it's a good story so I ran it.

      As for your concerns about our readership I wouldn't worry yourself too much. It goes without saying that your logic is laughable – why would those interested in paying £10 for a NUS card be the only ones interested in an article about a key vote at CUSU?!. A quick look at our readership figures for this story confirms this!

      If we're struggling for readers we'll give you a call for some editorial advice – at the moment I'd say we're doing just about ok!

  • Come On

    How can you say you represent the students when you aren't fighting for us over
    this issue! I voted against disaffiliating last year, so did 2897 other
    students. Just over 300 voted for it. Why does my vote sudddenly not count?

  • onlywentforthesweets

    If you want to talk about disaffiliating from a waste-of-space organisation, then JCRs disaffiliating from CUSU would be a step in the right direction. After spending a year as External Officer for my college JCR, I failed to see CUSU doing anything of worth that has had a positive impact on the student body. CUSU coucil is just a forum for sad people with too much time on their hands to bicker over pointless, petty student politics. They are undermined at JCR level, and truly are a waste of space.

  • Pingback: Confusion Reigns At CUSU « THE TAB – – All the latest Cambridge University news online()

  • ett

    does anyone care?

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