Today will see OUSU council debating a motion on disaffiliation from the NUS. The motion, proposed by NUS delegate and member of the Oh Well, Alright Then slate David Klemperer, has attracted criticism from various sources.
In an email to all OUSU officers, Aliya Yule, ex-WomCam officer, has urged the voting members of OUSU Council to vote against the motion to have a referendum on the University’s affiliation with the NUS. She claimed supporters of disaffiliation “support disaffiliation only… when the leadership of NUS no longer looks or thinks like them.” Really? She also criticised the motion for using NUS motions as a means to ridicule the organisation.
She proceed to argue that by the logic that only 0.005% of students in the UK voted for Malia, then we should also ‘disaffliate’ from the House of Commons, as votes only pass with 0.0005% of the UK population. VERSA isn’t really sure what disaffiliating from the House of Commons would look like, although we would quite like to point out that we do all get to vote for the Prime Minister every five years and we’d all be rather unhappy if it was just MPs who did this.
Yule was not the only person to criticise the motion, with a strongly worded attack in the Cherwell penned by former editor Luke Barratt. In it he raised similar points about the NUS motions being used as a weapons, with the Yik Yak motion – which drew especial criticism – being in his words “a resolution to speak to various social media sites to examine the possibility of reducing levels of hate speech”. Doesn’t stop it being an authoritarian and ridiculously unachievable idea – not that we expect anything else from the NUS.
David Klemperer, who proposed the motion, responded to criticism, telling VERSA: “We at Oh Well Alright Then support disaffiliation because we believe that the NUS no longer works. Rather than seeking to represent all students and working to address the issues they face, it engages in party political posturing, irrelevant grandstanding, and elects as its president a woman condemned by every university Jewish society in the country.”
He continued, “Given the level of controversy now surrounding Oxford’s relationship to the NUS, with numerous students, and a majority of the NUS delegation now questioning our affiliation, we support a referendum so that Oxford students can each express their stance the issue. It is the most democratic way in which this decision can be made, and we are disappointed that some in OUSU are going to such lengths to try and deny students their say. We are confident that this evening OUSU council will show its respect for students and in particular for Jewish students, by voting for our motion to hold a vote.”
Indeed, anti-semitism has played a large role in the debate surrounding the NUS, with Malia being accused of having made anti-semitic remarks by numerous groups and media outlets. On the subject of disaffiliation specifically, Oxford’s JSoc President, Isaac Virchis, told VERSA: “There have been problems in the past with anti-Semitism in the NUS that persist to this day and issues with previous statements from President-Elect Malia Bouattia. Whether this means we should disaffiliate or not is another question and one which Oxford JSOC will, if the motion passes, hold a meeting on to discuss”.