The timing of the elections for the University’s NUS delegates has been criticised for being so close to the NUS’ policy submission deadline on 6 March.
Beth Curtis, who was re-elected as one of the four NUS delegates on Friday, said: “I think it’s incredibly inconvenient, allows no time for discussion or debate of policy submissions, and really weakens YUSU’s position on the national stage.”
The NUS delegates are responsible for representing students’ views and vote on national policy at the annual NUS conference.
Stephen Harper, who was also elected NUS delegate on Friday, said: “They’re unfortunately close but I’ll be working as hard as I can with the other delegates to work around the timing to get the best policies submitted and will be speaking to YUSU staff on Monday to see what … can be done in future to prevent similar clashes from happening.”
YUSU trialled holding the elections for NUS delegates in November for two years but moved them back to Spring Term in 2013.
A proposal to get YUSU to move the dates of the NUS delegate elections back to the Autumn Term was submitted by Jack Chadwick, Chair of the Socialist Society, in October.
As well as highlighting the impact on the amount of “say” the University’s delegates have over what is discussed at conference, he argued that the role is “overshadowed” by the other positions being elected in the Spring Term.
He received a reply the following day saying the policy idea submission would “hopefully … soon be reviewed by the [Full Time Officers]” and that a decision would be made where his ideas would be “instantly actioned” or taken through the policy proposal. After not receiving any further communication from YUSU, Chadwick sent another email at the start of December asking for an explanation.
He was told: “We have tried this in the past, but the number of candidates drops significantly. Anyone can propose a motion, whether they’re a delegate or not so that shouldn’t be an issue.”
Chadwick told Nouse: “The mishandling of this case brings to mind other examples of problems within the shadowy new policy process … The new policy process is incredibly flawed.”
Liam O’Brien, Policy Coordinator, told Nouse: “The idea was not taken any further than the initial ideas stage as experienced members of YUSU staff pointed out that students intending to run for NUS delegate can and should submit motions before they are elected. They also noted that when NUS delegate elections have been held earlier in the year, the number of candidates and the interest of the student body in the elections dropped significantly. Students are more likely to run or vote for NUS delegate positions when the election rides off the excitement of the YUSU elections.”
He added that if the Officer Group’s grounds for rejection were deemed unsatisfactory it would be “open” to the resubmission of the idea.