QM NUS referendum: Every reason to leave the NUS

The NUS have failed miserably to represent the interest of students

The NUS represents 95 per cent of the Students’ Unions in the country with the aim to lobby the government on behalf of students to affect national policy. But the service doesn’t come cheap, with Queen Mary having to pay £50,000 for 2017 alone.

For all the money the NUS receives, virtually nothing is done for students in return. Here’s what hundreds of thousands of pounds got Queen Mary students over 10 years:

    • Failure to stop Tony Blaire’s Labour government introducing tuition fees
    • Failure to stop the coalition government tripling tuition fees
    • Failure to stop cuts to maintenance loans
    • Failure to stop EMA being scrapped
    • Failure to stop Maintenance grants being scrapped
    • Failure to stop rising rent prices at universities (rose 10 per cent last year alone)
    • 60,000 pounds spent on a national Demo that the media didn’t turn up to, regarded as a ‘horrendous failure’

Students holding the ‘No to NUS’ campaign leaflets

But if these things didn’t cost you enough, don’t worry, because the NUS is only increasing affiliation costs for universities each and every year, so while you struggle with rent, rising debt and money for upkeep, the NUS is only set to become wealthier.

After the “NO to NUS QM” campaign gathered information from students, the faculty and the Students’ Union, it became clear that £50,000 pounds each year could make a tremendous difference to campus.

Due to many sports facilities being located far away from campus, sports teams often struggle to get transport from the university. Increased funding would change this drastically, allowing them to attend training sessions and competitions regularly.

Societies are often not substantially funded by the university and some societies are forced to get external funding, hence it’s indisputable that allocating money to this, as opposed to affiliation costs, would strengthen clubs and societies creating a much more active and inclusive campus.

In 2015, the NUS hired Simon Blake on a £100,000 salary, roughly five times as much as the average graduate salary and two years worth of Queen Mary affiliation costs

The money could go towards the Financial Assistance Fund, a bursary granted to the poorest students at Queen Mary to help with maintenance costs. In this year alone, many of these students have been rejected the bursary purely because the university can’t afford to cover all of these specific students. Re-allocating money to this would help some of the most underprivileged students manage, and I think that’s far more important than propping up a failing and parasitic Union.

The NUS’s record of ‘inclusivity’, which they claim is so key to their ethos, is utterly shambolic and contemptible. Remarks from president, Malia Bouattia, such as referring to Birmingham University as a “Zionist outpost”, due to its highly active Jewish society, labelling parts of the media as “Zionist-led media outlets” and stating that “Zionist lobby groups were responsible for the Prevent Strategy” led a cross-party parliamentary investigation to condemn the NUS as “outright racist”.

But these weren’t the only attacks they’ve made on ‘inclusivity’.

At the LGBT+ conference, white-cis-gay men were told to stand down from representative positions as the NUS claimed that “misogyny, transphobia, racism and bi-phobia” are more likely to occur under their leadership.

At the NUS National conference, a delegate was appraised with standing ovation for proposing to abolish Holocaust Memorial Day.

As a particularly diverse university we can’t, and never should stand for the aforementioned. We don’t accept it on campus, and we shouldn’t accept it from our national Union.

Credit: Guido Fawkes

Lastly, it’s important to mention the success and prosperity that disaffiliated universities have achieved. It’s typically argued by the NUS that benefits such as the trading block, which attempts to provide universities with cheaper products (food, alcohol, textbooks, etc.) by collective buying, are too important to walk away from. They also argue that students will be unable to access student discounts, as only affiliated universities can apply for NUS cards; both statements are incredibly weak in the grand scheme of things.

After Russell Group universities such as The University of Southampton, Imperial College London and The University of Newcastle disaffiliated, they were successful in making their own trade deals with wholesalers, which ironically were better than the deals made by the NUS’s trading block (cheers to their £2.20 pints). The argument about the NUS card is null and void, as Unidays (available free to all students) provides all the same discounts and most stores will just accept your usual student card anyway.

Voting to disaffiliate from the NUS isn’t necessarily political, nor is it inherently populist, it is instead the rational and reasoned decision to make, and there is without any doubt, no reason to assume Queen Mary cannot prosper outside of the NUS’s grasp.

To cast your vote, log on at the QMSU website here.

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