Rob Noyes: ‘Why I’m voting YES to NUS’

NUS represents 95% of students

As part of The Tab Newcastle’s NEXIT week, we asked Combined Honours, final year, Rob Noyes, to tell us why he thinks NUSU is better off staying a member of NUS. 

The disaffiliation debate has arrived in Newcastle, with anger at the National Union of Students ripe following the NUS conference. The campaign to leave the National Union of Students has condemned the NUS as an ineffective body, running unimportant campaigns in an undemocratic manner. I want to challenge these claims. The NUS is an invaluable institution, and we must take part in setting its agenda.

The campaign to leave has consistently asked the question, ‘What has the NUS ever done for us?’ So let’s answer it: in 2014, they successfully lobbied the Government to postpone cuts to the Disabled Students Allowance – protecting those in need on a national scale. Further, they have worked alongside Shelter and the Citizens Advice Bureau to ensure the Housing Bill included a ‘Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme’, saving students £52m in the process. These provide a mere snapshot of what has been done. Just because we don’t read about it, it doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

In challenges to the legitimacy of the campaigns run by the NUS we hear references to ludicrous motions, such as the one supposedly “banning YikYak”. But the NUS does not legislate fun. That would be ridiculous. It does, on the other hand, protect student’s welfare. By doing things like opening a dialogue with YikYak about blocking troll accounts that make vile death and rape threats against student campaigners. No, despite what you might want hear, it’s not ‘banter’ the NUS would like to ban. It’s feckless thuggery.

Another claim, that the NUS is undemocratic – deserves consideration. Certain motions are not heard at the NUS, with a limited group deciding what is discussed and what is. But the only way to change something is to shape it from within.

The majority of students interact with the NUS primarily through discount cards and savings of £42, 000 in drinks sold at the union, and the benefit they receive from the £18, 000 the union has made selling those cards – not to mention the condoms we give away, provided by the NUS. If there is something undemocratic about this – it is surely that a referendum itself could be started by 300 signatures in a 23,000 strong University – 0.01%.

There are problems with the NUS. For many, its political views are not palatable and its process slow and bureaucratic. So let’s change it. It is not enough to be part of the 5% of student unions not in the NUS and to engage with government policy on an individual basis. Certainly, the discrimination experienced by liberation campaigns does not exist in a small bubble. It is experienced nationally. And all students would unite to eradicate discrimination. It’s only logical to assume that such an aim requires national solutions and platforms. Like the National Union of Students.

Students can vote whether or not they want to remain part of the NUS until Thursday (12th May) by clicking the link below: