BREAKING: Cambridge votes NO to disaffiliation

The referendum failed to pass with the results saying 51.52% of Cantabs voted to stay with the NUS.

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In a record voter turnout, Cambridge has provisionally voted in favour of the NUS. 

The motion “Should CUSU disaffiliate from the National Union of Students?” has failed to pass, with an incredibly close vote. Only 300 votes separated the Yes and No campaigns.

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A record 28.76% of the student body turned out to vote.

Malia Bouattia, elected after 57 JSocs around the country expressed concerns with her anti-Semitic language, has been the centre of various disaffiliation movements around the country. After a tumultuous debate on May 3 at CUSU Council, a motion mandating a referendum passed.

Adam Crafton and Jack May, co-founders of the Let Cambridge Decide Campaign said “We are of course disappointed not to have seen this through and secured the disaffiliation vote. By calling this referendum, opening up this debate and engaging so many Cambridge students in the issues at hand, we can be hugely proud of ourselves.”

“We’d like to thank all those campaigners who have offered so much in their support, participation, encouragement and commitment throughout the last few weeks.”

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“We believe that we have awoken the Cambridge student community to the challenges facing Jewish students on British campuses in 2016 and that is an immensely satisfying achievement. It has been a draining challenge at times but hugely rewarding.”

“Congratulations, of course, should go to the Remain campaign. I truly hope they honour their campaigning promises to fight for Jewish students within the National Union of Students [NUS].

“However, our concerns persist. Today it has emerged that the President Elect Malia Bouattia was investigated by NUS for anti-semitism last year. Her punishment of an informal warning and an apology does not suffice. Moreover, it is appalling that the millions of students she will represent nationwide were not informed that this investigation took place. It it to the utmost credit of the student media that they exposed this. It would, once again, appear to demonstrate conclusive evidence that the NUS cannot be trusted to confront anti-Semitism.

“It is vital that the NUS do not see this vote as a legitimisation of the direction their organisation is taking but instead see it as a mandate from a very prestigious university to be allowed one last chance to secure the reforms that Jewish students deserve.”

The ‘No’ Campaign also gave a response, saying:

“We are delighted that Cambridge students have voted to remain affiliated to the NUS, and all the more so given the record turnout. Credit to the Yes campaign for bringing this important conversation to Cambridge. This is a mandate for national collaboration, but it is also a mandate for reform, for the NUS to tackle anti-Semitism. All of us at the No campaign urge NUS to take strong action on this issue, and on democratic reforms more generally. We need a National Union for so many reasons, but it must respond to a substantial body of students demanding change. Today, Cambridge students have given the NUS that chance.”

CUSU President Priscilla Mensah also gave a statement, saying:

“I am proud and encouraged by the historic levels of engagement in this referendum, and as a campaigner for continued affiliation, I am pleased that Cambridge students will continue to have a voice in shaping and changing NUS for the better.

With such high levels of engagement, this vote provides the team and I with a strong mandate to take forward the clear and legitimate concerns that Cambridge students have raised during this referendum. I have been explicit as a campaigner that NUS is far from perfect; with the confidence of Cambridge students, CUSU will continue to engage with NUS in collaboration with students’ unions across the country to ensure NUS becomes the inclusive and effective organisation students deserve.”

CUSU has now verified these results, meaning Cambridge officially remains affiliated to the NUS.