Open letter calls for York to leave “warped” and “self-serving” NUS

The undersigned demand a referendum on YUSU’s association with a Union “concerned with neither emancipation nor equality”

Image: NUS

A group of over 40 students at the University of York have together signed an open letter to YUSU, requesting a referendum on its continued affiliation with the NUS.

In the letter leaked to Nouse that calls the National Union of Students “a warped, self-serving organisation that works not to help students, but to divide and marginalise them”, the students disclose their doubts as to the integrity of the Union’s newly elected President Malia Bouattia, citing a condemnation of her campaign by over 40 Jewish societies at British universities, among other allegations of anti-Semitism. They also state their concerns regarding the NUS’s request that universities drop gay men’s representatives from their LGBT+ communities, and the degree to which the Union’s delegate framework is truly representative of students.

The letter concludes with a demand for a prompt referendum, this academic term, on the basis that “YUSU’s continued affiliation with the NUS sends a message to Jews on campus that they are not wanted, to gay men that their struggles are irrelevant, and to political organisations that they are wrong”.

Nouse understands that the students’ request will be further discussed at YUSU’s open Annual General Meeting on Monday.

The National Union of Students has been approached for comment.

The full letter can be read below.

 

Dear YUSU trustees,

We, the undersigned students and alumni of the University of York are deeply troubled by the University’s continued affiliation with the National Union of Students.

The National Union of Students, ostensibly a campaigning group that has the best interests of students at its heart, is a warped, self-serving organisation that works not to help students, but to divide and marginalise them. The recent election of Malia Bouattia as the Union’s President removes any doubt in this. Bouattia has been condemned by over 40 Jewish societies at British universities, has described the mainstream media as ‘Zionist’, and has described her university, Birmingham, as a ‘Zionist outpost’. We do not believe that such flippant and divisive comments would be tolerated had they been directed at any other minority group, and the approval of Bouattia’s comments by NUS delegates (shown by their election of her) shows that the NUS is concerned with neither emancipation nor equality.

This follows the NUS requesting universities to drop gay men’s representatives from their LGBT+ committees, on account of gay men not suffering sufficient oppression to warrant a dedicated liberation officer. This policy runs in direct opposition to the principles of solidarity and community on which YUSU LGBTQ Network was founded.

Not only this, but the NUS operates in a delegate framework, meaning that ordinary students do not get a say in the running of the organisation. While these delegates are elected, they are not accountable to the students who elected them, and they mean that NUS policy is dictated by a very small, very insular, and very political group of students who are not in any way representative of the UK’s student body as a whole.

Attempts by YUSU to change this to a One Member One Vote system have consistently failed.

We believe that YUSU’s continued affiliation with the NUS sends a message to Jews on campus that they are not wanted, to gay men that their struggles are irrelevant, and to political organisations that they are wrong. For these reasons, we demand a referendum, to be held promptly this term, on YUSU’s continued affiliation with the NUS, in order to give York’s student body an opportunity to affirm continued affiliation, or to separate.

Yours sincerely,

Ciarán Morrissey, class of ’16, Chair, University of York Liberal Democrats
Robin Brabham, Class of ’15, Class of ‘19, PhD, Chair, University of York Green Party
Adam Sutherland, class of ’17, Chair, Palestinian Solidarity Society 2016-2017
Jesse Raikes, Class of ’16
Mike Green, class of ‘17, former Chair, University of York Liberal Democrats
Kevin Augustine, Class of ’18, BME Officer, University of York Labour Club
Charlie Kingsbury, Class of ‘15, BA, Class of ‘16, MA, former Chair University of York Liberal Democrats
Thomas Turton, Class of ’17. Chair, University of York UKIP Association
Jayh Karia, Class of ’18
Callum Shannon, Class of ’16, former Chair, University of York Labour Club
Alexandra Nawrat, Class of ’16, former Secretary, University of York Labour Club
Oliver Angove, Class of ’16, former President, Club of PEP
Sam Linley, Class of ’19, Secretary, University of York UKIP Association
Jack Braund, Class of ’16, Honorary Vice President, York Conservative and Unionist Association
Niall Hegarty, Class of ’18
Matthew Dent, Class of ’16, Honorary Vice President, York Conservative and Unionist Association
Jordan Hennessy, Class of ’17, Secretary, Jewish Society
Bethany Wright, Class of ’17, Chair, York Conservative and Unionist Association
Charlie Reddin, Class of ’16, Honorary Vice President, York Conservative and Unionist Association
Uday Maudgil, Class of ’18, Committee Member, York Model United Nations Association
Cameron Smith, Class of ’16, Honorary Vice President, York Conservative and Unionist Association
Stephen Harper, Class of ’15, former Press and Publicity, York Liberty
Asa-Jai Farr, Class of ‘19
Rhys Thompson, Class of ’16
Elliott Banks, Class of ’16, Ordinary Member, York Liberty
Jack Merrett, Class of ’18
Harry Phillips, Class of ’17, Managing Director, the Yorker
Huw Davies, Class of ’16, Honorary Vice President, York Conservative and Unionist Association
Callum Delhoy, Class of ’18, Events Officer, University of York Liberal Democrats
Gabriel Bramley, Class of ’16, Ordinary Member, University of York Liberal Democrats
Joshua Stubbs, Class of  ’17
Madeleine Stone, Class of 16, co-Chair, York PEN
James Eyermann, Class of ’18, Ordinary Officer, York Conservative and Unionist Association
James Beck, Class of ’16, former Treasurer, Polo Club
Rajun Mann, Class of ’18, Merchandise Officer, Club of PEP
Felix Forbes, Class of ’16, Politics Editor, Nouse
Callum Alston, Class of ’18, BME Officer, University of York Labour Club
Michael Wigram, Class of ’19(PhD), Treasurer, Universiy of York UKIP Association
Henry Dyer, Class of ’18
Joe Morris, Class of ’16
Costas Mourselas, Class of ’16, Columnist, York Vision
Jake Weir, Class of ’17, President, Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
Daniel Gronow, Class of ’17, Secretary, Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
Louis Jani, Class of ’17, co-Editor, The Lemon Press
Michaela Tharby, Class of ’18, Internal Vice Chair & Trade Union Liaison Officer, University of York Labour Club

More signatures pending

3 comments

  1. 21 Apr ’16 at 8:25 pm

    Ciarán Morrissey

    Just to add to this, if you’re in any way interested in the disaffiliation campaign, please come to YUSU’s AGM on Monday https://www.facebook.com/events/973104066101073/ or message one of Ciarán Morrissey; Bethany Wright; Stephen Harper; Jayh Karia; Allie Nawrat; or Uday Maudgil on Facebook.

    Reply Report

  2. 21 Apr ’16 at 9:30 pm

    Stephen Harper

    Hi all.
    Just to confirm that this leak was a conflation of an old draft of a letter and a new list of potential signatories for easy data entry. As a result some people have their named signed to a letter that does not entirely represent them.

    Just thought I’d try and clear things up. I cant speak entirely for everyone in the campaign. Each nams is there for their own reasons.

    But a brief summary of reasons from our group:

    Malia’s election was damaging.

    The YikYak policy was laughable.

    The ‘gay men aren’t oppressed’ one equally so.

    Continued refusal to listen to disabled student’s requests for access at conference. (i know a lot of anti nus people constantly laugh at the whole “jazz hands” thing, but cheering/whooping/clapping during a speech makes it difficult/impossible to hear for those hard of hearing, and there are so many requests for people to not do that during conference and they are constantly ignored. That’s a shitty thing for a lot of the NUS to do.)

    Costs ~50k a year

    No OMOV

    Having elections in the conference makes policymaking biased and heated as so much of it becomes posturing from people trying to become sabbs.

    Some in our campaign want to Leave permanently. Others (like myself) are more interested in leaving but with returning on certain conditions, like OMOV, separation of policy conf and elections, removal from party political things (supporting jezza and fighting lib dems last GE(nus spent 40k on an anti lib dem campaign), I mean as a labour man through and through I personally am okay with these things but like come on our uni needs better student support and higher staff student ratios not unseated LD mps) etc…

    Just thought I’d give a more accurate update of our position.

    And to reiterate ciaran. If you have a reason to doubt membership and would like to consider the debate just let us know.

    These things have to be discussed.

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    • “The ‘gay men aren’t oppressed’ one equally so.”

      That’s ridiculously out of context, and actually wrong. The motion never said gay men aren’t oppressed.

      Reply Report

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