It’s hard not to get swept up in the fervour surrounding the disaffiliation vote. Following a controversial National Conference which saw what some regard as an anti-Semitic elected the national president, and motion put forward to cease singularly commemorating the holocaust, many students feel that the time has come to end their affiliation with the NUS.
Certainly, the NUS hasn’t helped themselves; snarky, indirect comments on social media, questionable uses of their power through intervention in university elections and a general sense of disregard for the issues that actually affect students has only damaged their reputation further.
Its not hard, therefore, to see why many have had enough of the NUS. I too felt this way initially; If the NUS fails to represent student – it’s primary task – why should we affiliate with and support it? Surely disaffiliating would, in the short term, allow our SU greater autonomy and in the long run force change upon the NUS?
Its not hard, therefore, to see why many have had enough of the NUS.
However, after this initial consideration, I stepped away from the fervour and thought about the issue further. At a time when university study is threatened with upheaval through a potential exit from the European Union and at the mercy of a further possible rise in tuition fees, some degree of unity is necessary to ensure that the student voice is heard.
While the argument can be made that the NUS won’t effectively represent this voice, it has always been my belief that change is most effectively enacted from the inside. It would be very difficult for individual students unions to oppose such changes, and only the assistance of an effective national voice can really fill this role. I understand the anger and the discontent surrounding the NUS.
While the argument can be made that the NUS won’t effectively represent this voice, it has always been my belief that change is most effectively enacted from the inside.
However to server all ties based upon a small period of discontent is to disregard the work that the NUS has done over its lifetime. The NUS is undeniably plagued by issues, both political and structural. But they are not insurmountable issues, and a push towards reform as a combined force of universities is always going to be more effective in the long run than the short term shock tactic of a disaffiliation.
The anger that people feel is justified, but this is a decision that should be made with cool, rational heads and not with the same self-righteous indignation that got the NUS into such a predicament in the first place.