YUSU’s affiliation to the National Union of Students (NUS) is viewed by YUSU Officers with varying degrees of content.
YUSU President, Tim Ngwena, recognises that, due to democratic leadership, engagement is a crucial responsibility for NUS benefits. He explains: “It’s like a gym membership. If you pay for membership and don’t go, you only have yourself to blame if you’re still tubby round the sides.”
Charlie Leyland, Academic Affairs Officer, ran for NUS Vice-President for Higher Education this year, but lost by nine votes to Usman Ali.
Leyland says: “NUS assumes that you buy into the collectivist model in order to reap the benefits for students. I do… I can sleep at night safe in the knowledge that issues are being dealt with on a national scale as well as doing what we can in our own institution to safeguard students. Simply, we can’t do it alone.”
Student Activities Officer, Rhianna Kinchin, views her remit as under-represented: “Support to real, active students could be better.” Kinchin cites the effect of successful support within YUM, allowing “our community a strong national reputation”. However, debating over national issues “may come secondary to ground level support.”
Ben Humphrys, Welfare Officer, says that YUSU “can often feel unrepresented and disconnected.” Yet Humphrys praises the NUS as an aid to successful welfare representation which “puts students first”.
He adds: “I don’t always like how the NUS works, or even everything it does, but its overall impact is unequivocally positive; quite simply, we need it.”
“Pragmatically though, NUS membership entitles us to be members of NUS Services Limited; and income from NUS Extra and savings through the purchasing consortium totalled £35,667 last year. The £1671 variance between that and our 08/09 affiliation fee represents the real cost of the ongoing training and support that the NUS provides.”
YUSU Democracy and Services Officer
Lewis Bretts, Democracy and Services Officer, understands why York may feel nationally alienated. “I’ve always had a bit of a chequered relationship with the NUS – there’s no doubt that on a policy level it is more than a little detached from the average student at York.
“However…that’s part and parcel of a democratic organisation – sometimes we don’t get our way, but it doesn’t mean we should stop engaging.”
From a sporting perspective, York Sport President, Emily Scott, is less satisfied. “I don’t really feel I get much from the NUS, but they acknowledge this themselves.”
The NUS represents seven million individuals, yet despite expressing malcontent in its treatment of their remits, YUSU accept their membership as a necessity.