The debate, which took place last night, saw speakers from each side put forward their arguments as to whether York should be part of the National Union of Students.
Representing the YES Campaign was Kallum Taylor and representing the NO campaign was Tom Morgan. The indicative vote showed a pretty even split on both sides of the discussion, with an ample amount of undecided voters also present. The referendum debate was quick to get started with issues such as cost, student support, drink prices and the general effectiveness of the NUS being at the forefront of the discussion.
Kallum and Maddie Kirkman, NUS Disabled Students’ Officer, emphasised that despite the NUS’ flaws “we will be worse off out of the NUS” arguing that leaving the NUS would cost York more money and give students less political power and protection. In contrast the other side of the argument, led by Tom Morgan and Sean Bossick claimed that the NUS was ineffective, didn’t represent students and made student drink prices higher.
Weighty allegations were made on both sides with Sean Bossick accusing Kallum Taylor of ‘scaremongering’ with regards to mentioning council tax in a Facebook post. Similarly Maddie Kirkman accused the NO Campaign of “walking away” from the problems faced by students rather than acting to change them.
The cost of alcohol featured heavily within the debate, with both sides citing Southampton as a case study. Team NO stated that through leaving the NUS, students were actually able to secure cheaper drink deals as they could barter with local businesses. The YES side stated that this was ludicrous and that cheaper drinks, whilst sustaining good wages and bar standards, are simply not plausible.
On a slightly more important note, the rights of smaller student groups were also discussed. Tom Morgan argued that student representatives would still be able to do a fantastic job without the help and control of the NUS. Thomas Ron, Disables Students’ Officer, disagreed, stating that the support he received from the NUS was extremely beneficial in helping him focus on bigger issues. Student campaigning was also raised with audience member Helena Horton putting forward the case of a Birmingham student who was facing a failed degree after campaigning and not receiving any protection from the NUS.
The debate ended with another fairly even split, however with far less undecided voters.
For live coverage of the event visit @nouselive on twitter
Voting opens today and close next week.