John Randall, former YUSU and NUS President has urged York students not to disaffiliate from the NUS, saying that it is “the student voice” and has the strength and credibility as a national organisation that individual institutions do not have.
Speaking on Wednesday evening as admist the University of York referendum on NUS affiliation he said the organisation is “about representing students, being the voice of students and the instrument to influence the policies that affect them both in individual institutions and elections”
“Politicians respond to the pressure and influence of representative groups like NUS, so my advice is don’t walk away from that. You won’t find it easy to recreate the influence that now exists, especially the access that NUS has got at ministerial level.”
Randell who was YUSU President between 1969-70 and then NUS President 1973-75 looked back over the last 40 years of the 85 year history of NUS, and warned students that if individual unions begin to disaffiliate “the organisation [NUS] itself starts falling apart”.
Randall who proved to be unpopular with many vice-chancellors as former head of the QAA encouraged students to get involved with NUS politics to make it “respected but not respectable”. He said “People in their student days should be critical of authority structures; it’s almost worrying if they are not.”
He put emphasis on the fact that changes to the NUS could only be made from the inside, stating that: “the politics of NUS is what you make it, if any of you don’t like the politics of NUS, change it… it’s in your hands”
Unlike many individuals who have criticised the international campaigns of NUS, Randell believes that international dimension is of vital importance and “provides tactical assistance to those that are in exactly the same position that you are, but have been denied most of the rights you have, so students should speak up.”