NUS passes controversial reforms

After a great deal of debate and discussion, the National Union of Students finally passed reforms which are set to radically overhaul the structure of the NUS at a conference in Wolverhampton on last Tuesday.

The reforms passed with about 90 per cent of the vote though it was impossible to count the actual number of votes due to disruption by the delegates on the floor.

The Warwick Students’ Union, which has chopped and changed its position over the past two terms, voted in favour of the reforms though they were not all that it would have hoped.

“It is about trying to make NUS an effective body” said Andy Glyde, Finance and Governance Officer of the Warwick Students’ Union, during a discussion on RaW News Insight. The NUS had been seen as “inefficient and ineffective at times…it was not representing students in the way that it should” he went on to say.

Glyde added that the “reforms were to allow for more effective representation at all levels”.

In an interview with _The Guardian_, Wes Streeting, President of the National Union of Student said that he was “ecstatic” adding “the gravity of the decision taken today is without doubt the biggest shake up of NUS’s democracy and status in its history”.

The reforms, despite large scale support from delegates, were not universally welcomed. One student said “the reforms totally screwed the LGBT, women’s and black groups’ autonomy. It was wrong for it to pass.”

According to the NUS the changes in the constitution are meant to benefit disabled, minority, black and women’s groups but many gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and black students wanted to see an impact assessment made before the reforms were passed.

In Term 1, Union Council opposed the reforms because they did not go far enough. However a meeting of Council on Monday 19 January saw this position overturned. “We brought it back up again,” said Glyde, “because we thought new information had come up”.

Council also saw controversy surrounding the role of NUS Delegates. A motion was passed by Council that gave delegates the right to abstain and told of their right to resign if a policy was changed after they were elected.

Puneet Dhaliwal, the Welfare Committee Chair said “it would seem that a lot of people in the debate are misnaming the term delegate.”

“A delegate ought to be representing the will of the students” he continued, “constitutionally a delegate should be representing a given decision”.

Previously the reforms had been rejected by the NUS. Last year in Blackpool, the reforms narrowly missed being ratified by 25 votes. The passage of these reforms marks the ends of several years of conferences and discussions which have dominated the NUS.


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