Chigbo Facing Crucial CUSU Vote

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

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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.