Labour Deputy candidates Peter Hain and Hazel Blears have called for YUSU to maintain its membership of the National Union of Students (NUS) when interviewed by Nouse on a range of student related issues.
In the run up to a vote on disaffiliating from the NUS, both Hain and Blears expressed their disagreement with the proposal. Hain highlighted the fact that although he did not always agree with the policies of the NUS, disaffiliation would weaken the student voice both at York and nationally.
Blears, agreeing with Hain, gave a stronger reply: “It would be a big mistake to disaffiliate from the NUS, no matter your frustrations and differences the way to influence an institution is to change it from within.” She added, “Shouting from the sidelines can be easily ignored”.
When asked about their views on ethical investment, given that it has been uncovered that the University has a substantial number of shares in arms companies such as BAE, Blears encouraged ethical investment from which the institution can also benefit. Hain cited the importance of groups such as the Sudan Divestment task force, of which York has its own branch, and said, “With 250,000 already dead in Darfur, I believe that everyone in Britain has an obligation to take a moral lead”.
Both Hain and Blears spoke in favour of increased diversity and efforts to further racial equaliy at the University. Blears added that it was disappointing when students stick to their own groups and thus avoid integration. However, she also commented that the Students’ Union is vital to integration and special programs so that international and home students can mix successfully should be employed.
At a time when green issues are at the forefront of political agendas, the Deputy candidates were questioned on the impending construction of the Heslington East campus on green belt land over possible brown field sites. Hain, viewing the environment as a sensitive issue, felt that any damage should be avoided, while Blears’ commented on the project saying, “It is right that more people experience the benefits of studying at York, and if the only way for that to happen is new developments, then it might be a necessary evil.”