November 17, 2008 by Lee Vernon
I just wish to start by saying how much I hate NUS. Words can hardly do my bitterness justice, but saying I despise it with every ounce of my being is a pretty good description. I’m kinda the NUS expert around the Union and I challenge anyone to take that honour (god, please do).I attend just about any NUS event going only to sidelined, write numerous policy submissions that get ignored and speak at conferences only to be shouted down. Yep, I really hate NUS and yet, I say no to disaffiliation.
Yes the NUS is run by a bunch of bureaucrats and New Labour stooges who are hell bent on wrecking democracy and stand opposed to a lot of what Sussex stands for.
As a committed socialist and a member of Socialist Students, the NUS leadership is the evil doppelganger of all my beliefs. But this isn’t enough to warrant disaffiliation. Why? Because us leaving it would only disadvantage and isolate us whilst the NUS leadership would be overjoyed and the left wing weakened. Sussex remains one of the NUS’s biggest critics, and you can guarantee at every meeting, conference and event we’re there pushing for a strong democratic NUS that fights against marketisation and for free education.
Thanks to Sussex’s role in Save NUS Democracy, the first constitution got voted down, embarrassing the NUS leadership and forcing them to back down on and give us concessions.
We raise the political debate and show that a Union that engages it students and fights for them goes out and wins. We inspire other smaller Unions to campaign in the same way and are one of the few that hold the NUS to account at every corner.
Without us, I guarantee the NUS bureaucrats will sleep safer at night, knowing that it will be twice as easy to get its motions rubber stamped without so much as a peep. But we’ll be making a political statement I hear you say, I mean, really?
Sussex, with its reputation as the most left wing union in the country, leaving will hardly cause a ripple as one Union leaves and NUS continues as usual. And what happens to us? We become one Union against the world, with no national or regional representation.
Though we will save the £36,000 we give in affiliation fees. And then lose between £50,000-60,000 in savings in beer and shop goods we get through NUSSL (the NUS’s purchasing consortium). Not to mention all the training, connections, networking and resources we also get from NUS, along with the 10% student discount.
So to conclude disaffiliation gives us :
- A 30k budget deficit
- No representation nationally
- No say in policy debates
- No arena for networking
- And of course, no discount card….
It is vital that Sussex stays in NUS, not just for the resources it gives us, but to continue to fight and hold it to account, networking and uniting with other activist unions and showing them that the way forward is genuine democracy, engagement and resistance.
The student movement needs an organisation to bring together all the Unions to fight nationally whilst supporting locally, and the NUS for all its faults is that organisation. Say No to disaffiliation, so we can continue to both fight and inspire on a national level .