A referendum on YUSU’s affiliation with the National Union of Students will take place before the end of this term, YUSU President Ben Leatham has announced in a blog post this afternoon.
The vote was due to take place in 2017 as per the three-year referendum cycle, however following the submission of a proposal to YUSU by ‘No2NUS’ campaigners earlier this month, the Policy Review Group has decided to accelerate the referendum.
Campaigning will begin on 23 May and voting will open on 1 June. Every student is eligible to vote, ‘Yes’, ‘No’, or to abstain from answering the question: ‘Should YUSU Remain Affiliated with the NUS?’. The outcome will be decided by a simple majority, which requires at least 5 per cent of YUSU members to vote.
A referendum debate is set to be held on 31 May, and key facts on the NUS, including arguments both for and against affiliation can be found on YUSU’s minisite. Chris Wall, outgoing YUSU Activities Officer, will be heading the ‘YES’ campaign, while Robin Brabham, PhD student and leader of the York University Green Party, will take the ‘NO’ side. YUSU itself will remain neutral in the campaign.
The result of the referendum will be announced on 9 June.
James Humpish, YUSU Policy Coordinator, said: “We have decided to move ahead with this for a number of reasons. Firstly, we have noted that affiliation with the NUS affects every member of YUSU and continuing membership has become a contentious issue within campus with some voices for and against having been expressed earlier in the term.
“Having said this, a referendum provides the opportunity for every student to express their opinion on continued membership and by proposing this two weeks in advance, there is a healthy timeframe for both a ‘Stay’ and ‘Leave’ campaign to develop and effectively coordinate themselves so as to share their arguments for and against continued affiliation with the NUS.
“It was further noted that question of NUS membership has been raised in multiple universities across the country with some unions having decided to stay in the NUS and others deciding to leave. Holding a referendum provides capacity for students in York to demonstrate democratically where our university stands on the issue.”
Robin Brabham, head of the ‘No2NUS’ campaign, told Nouse: “YUSU has done the right thing and given York students a voice.
“We now can have a considered debate on whether or not the NUS is an organisation we feel comfortable allowing to represent us.”