VERSA | VERSA debates: Why we must leave the NUS

That there should be a referendum in which every student can vote is something of a no brainer – it affects everyone, so it’s fair to let everyone vote, rather than leaving it down to a select OUSU few.

Considering the last referendum was judged to be void following rigging of votes this will be most Oxford student’s first chance to vote on the issue. The counter-argument that extensive campaigning will be required by the opposition, which is unfair because Trinity term is “busy”, also seems unconvincing. Are no decisions to be made at all in the whole of Trinity term, ever? During the recent council meeting the issue was also raised by the opposition that Michaelmas would be too busy because of “freshers”. I’m pretty sure Oxford is busy all year round so delaying a vote on the grounds of preoccupation because you know you’re going to lose just looks like a cheap tactic.

The actual advice that NUS offers to OUSU, the bread and butter of their involvement and support, is publicly available and “not that great” in the words of one OUSU delegate. As for their help preparing things like consent workshops and diversity talks, Oxford already has very many people involved and aware of those sorts of issues. I wouldn’t be surprised if Oxford was collectively better equipped than the NUS on issues of social justice and awareness, which only recently elected a trans representative.

As for the glorified advertising vehicle that is the NUS card, the modest financial benefits it provides – like 15% off at redhotsunglasses – aren’t worth supporting, with your own money, an organization whose leader has lost the support of over 50 Jewish groups. For Oxford students an NUS card, which you have to pay 12 quid a year for anyway, is more or less pointless because most Oxford businesses that have a student discount accept good old bodcards.

Finally, the Malia issue itself is less down to the fear that she might actually implement anti-Semitic policy, although the threat to scrap holocaust commemoration was very troubling, and more down to what it says and represents about the NUS as a whole – aside from all the reasons why the NUS isn’t much use, there’s a grander point to be made about the whole state of student politic groups. It’s absolutely hilarious to me that Malia should even be in a political zone where she’s accused of ISIS sympathy or anti-Semitism – it’s student politics! It should be, at the very highest level, representing student interests on a national level, not fighting “Zionism” and discussing Israel.

OUSU should hold a referendum because spreading the vote out so that all students get a say might pull student politics’ head out of its own arse, and we should leave partially to shock some sense into the NUS’ overblown sense of importance.

Tags: debate — leave — NUS — NUS referendum — oxit