York representatives sent to NUS conferences are to be held accountable for the way in which they cast their votes. Following a successful motion in last week’s UGM, delegates will be mandated to ensure that their vote reflects the views of the Union and student body.
NUS Conferences are an opportunity for universities to play a role in determining the direction of national union policy for the coming year. For next year, prominent issues are likely to be top-up fees and work placements. Each university is allowed to send a number of student delegates to represent the views of their Union. In the past, there has been concern that York student delegates have not fully understood their role.
YUSU President Anne-Marie Canning is automatically entitled to attend these conferences, and has voiced concerns regarding the attitudes of delegates sent in the past: “One person who was running for delegate said, ‘well I’m not there for the students, I’m there for myself’. No you’re not. You’re there to represent our students and you should vote the way our students want you to vote.”
York has an allowance of 8 delegates to send to conference. Last term, the issue in point was the NUS Governance Review; a motion to restructure the organisation of the NUS. The delegates were not compelled to report the way they had voted. It is believed that the votes cast did not represent campus opinion.
“They should be voting in the way the students who have elected them expect them to vote, they should be accountable to the people who have elected them” said Canning.
“I want to put through this policy so that our delegates vote the way our policy steers them. I’m not trying to clamp down on anyone, that’s not my aim. People can pursue their own political interests outside of the conference hall,” she continued.
Support for the motion, which passed by 399 votes to 42, demonstrates a recognition that this mandate will see the views of York students accurately depicted at conference.
Tom Langrish, who seconded the motion, said: “What this does is ensure, as much as we can without actually forcing tickets up in the air, that they vote with York students.”