The NUS: An argument for remaining in

The National Union of Students provides institutional support in various under-publicised ways; by staying in we can force change

Image: Timothy E Baldwin

People will immediately criticise this piece. They will say a sabb should not be wading in, and should be allowing students to shape and lead the debate. I normally stay quiet on these issues for that reason, but I also believe that I was elected to serve the best interests of York students.

Staying silent on the NUS and not giving you the full picture of benefits and a balanced argument isn’t doing that. It’s time to set the record straight on why we should remain in the NUS.

Funding: YUSU is one of the lowest funded unions in the Russell Group, meaning every penny counts. Leaving the NUS would have a huge impact on our finances, which we use to support societies, sport, representation…the list goes on.

An NUS affiliation fee of £50,051 seems extortionate. However, from NUS Extra sales, Green Impact payments, and more, we get back £68,602. Being part of NUS means we are better off by £18,551. For perspective, that is around one third of the YUSU society’s annual grant budget. A budget that we simply can’t afford to lose.

What about your pocket? Affiliation means we stock YUSU bars at a cheaper price than if we were working alone. Plus the NUSExtra card nets you online discounts at ASOS, Amazon, Spotify and more With the increasing cost of living, you know that matters!
How else does being a member impact students at York? In a word: support.
The issues we at York face are felt by students up and down the country. Housing issues, sport facility costs, mental health and more. We are able to be more effective on these issues because of the invaluable training, resources and networks that are accessible within the NUS.

This extends to our liberation networks, who would arguably be hit hardest by a disaffiliation vote. The foundation of liberation is in the collective voice standing up for what is right. It is imperative that we don’t isolate the most marginalised in our society from national counterparts.

Essentially, what I’m trying to say is, even if you think the other YUSU officers and I are terrible at our jobs, I know that we would be far worse without the NUS.

Politics: Many concerns have been raised about the new NUS President, particularly by Jewish students and societies across the country. I want to make it clear that I share many of the concerns raised and she needs to give answers. However, let’s not let one voice define the movement, because that isn’t where the power of the movement lies. The power of the movement is in the 7,000,000 students that make it up.

At the NUS National Conference students from York fought for greater action on the mental health crisis and the Prevent Agenda, as well as supporting a successful campaign for a full-time NUS Trans Officer. York voices were heard, policy was passed, and now NUS is mandated to act. That is the power of the student movement.

Proponents of disaffiliation argue that if enough unions leave, then the NUS will have no option but to change. If leaders of the NUS really are opposed to change, I question whether 20 unions of over 600 leaving will actually have any impact?

Removing our membership is akin to saying X political party is 100 per cent going to win, so there’s no point in voting for Y. It simply makes no sense.

The only way the NUS changes is if we make it. If you believe that the NUS is a self-serving clique, why remove one of the strongest voices trying to break through it? There is no alternative, there is only alienation. Students across the UK lose a national voice and in the process make things worse on our campus.

I’m prepared to fight for what I believe is best for York students, and I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I wasn’t.

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