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NUS Conference 2008: Review

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Apr 04 2008 18:12

With most of Imperial's delegation coming back disillusioned and calling for disaffiliation from the NUS, Live! reviews what went on.

Click Here for the Full Article

1. jess   
Apr 04 2008 18:30

i completely agree with everything said by jen and kirsty...i don't think you could've put it any better

2. ke   
Apr 04 2008 20:37

So why don't you get lost and leave then? We'd be much better off without you campaigning for stupid things like supporting military recruitment.

3. ummm   
Apr 04 2008 21:04

Well we are trying, just having to go through all the formal rigmarole and paperwork to make sure at least our union stays somewhere near a democracy and something students can be proud to work with....

Incidentally, any volunteers to run the stay in the NUS campaign?

Apr 04 2008 21:04

Funny how the far left agrees with us that 16 year olds are capable of deciding whether to continue education or not, but thinks they're too stupid to realise that joining the army means you might get killed, or experience war.

Wouldn't NUS be better off if it focused on student problems, rather than trying to tell people what they can and can't do all the time? University students are supposed to be smart (or they shouldn't be at university) - they can figure out if they want to go join the army, or OTC, or URNU etc.

5. John   
Apr 05 2008 03:23

I entirely agree that we should conduct the disaffiliation referendum before the next academic year. I remember as a Fresher last year being assailed at Freshers' Fair by campaigners trying to explain the intricate workings (or failings as the case may be) of the NUS when all I really cared about was getting as many freebies as possible whilst wondering where the next pint was coming from. If we wait for the autumn term we will not only have lost our impetus but will have to inform a whole new generation of generally apathetic students of the issues. Also if Imperial can disaffiliate soon we can pave the way for other SUs (who may not have had as much practice as we've had) to follow suit.

I also believe that as a delegate elected by the students Camilla has acted disgracefully in breaking mandate three times. Even as a person with left wing views she should at least believe in the concept of democracy. Indeed the Student Respect website states "Respect, Equality, Socialism and Community" as four of its core values- does she not believe in respecting the views of the community that had elected her? And how does equality between her and her fellow ordinary students feature into her beliefs, if she thinks herself superior enough to use her position to impose her own views? And how about socialism, a doctrine rooted in deriving policy by representing the views of the majority? However she has done well in providing an example close to home for the A-NUS campaign of what the NUS has become- self-obsessed, redundant and uncontrollable.

6. @ ke   
Apr 05 2008 11:21


7. hmm   
Apr 05 2008 12:00

@ Ashley: Of course the NUS would be better off if it focused on student problems, but that's not going to happen - you've seen it first hand.

@ John: Yours is probably one of the best comments I've seen on Live recently - giving a view from an ordinary student (who is well informed) and moving the debate on with a sensible suggestion.

So, does anyone know if the disaffiliation Referendum is happening? I concur that it should happen now.

People will be well informed on the issue this time around. The last one was largely won with the uninformed Fresher vote (who had been fed lies about 'discounts').

Hopefully this time the NUS won't send those godawful 'representatives' i.e. people with nothing better to do than walk around spouting bulls**t dressed in penguin costumes!

Apr 05 2008 12:13

Unfortunately it is likely the NUS will send those "godawful representatives again" as they are desperate not to lose our affiliation fee (we were one of the highest are the other Unis who are considering disaffiliation). It has been suggested that we carry out the referendum vote at the same time as a number of other Uni's referendums so that the NUS's resources are stretched so the penguin population is not concentrated on just one place.

With regard getting a referendum taking place, there were two routes for this. One was getting a 2/3 majority at council and the other was getting 500 names. Because the 2/3rd majority at council would be easy it was thought getting 500 names would let the campaign gather some momentum. To add you name to the list go to....

..and invite everyone to join!

Apr 05 2008 12:57

Security should remove their supporters, as I bet none of them have official visitors badges. Also, all visitors to college " should not wear clothing in such a way that it obscures the face", so the penguin outfits are not allowed. If enough of a fuss is kicked up you can put a dent in their propaganda.

Or we could just pie them :-P

10. Jess   
Apr 05 2008 13:23

there was talk of getting the returning officer to make a ruling that if nus did send staff onto campus then the "No to Disaffilition" campaign would be punished or automatically lose...something along those lines

Apr 05 2008 13:42

A joint campaign is prob the way forward. I could see Kings and (maybe) UCL joining us...

The far left are a joke.. if they want to talk c**p and get nothing done so be it.. but we shouldnt have to pay them to do it.

Apr 05 2008 14:28

"The far left are a joke."

I agree, and so are the far right. Anything with far in their title tends to have both an over-idealised opinion of reality and horribly over-simple solutions: be it revolution or repatriation. The worrying this is the far-left's influence in the NUS which has been there for decades, and with hindsight it does appear naive to think it could have been reformed.

The NUS basically sees itself as both a Trade Union in the radial mould and something resembling the LSE in 1968. The problem is that socialism has been partially integrated into the centre-ground and radial socialism has been killed off as a consequence - I understand this myself as Socialist Democrat. It has also become harder to protest at the "compassionate" New Labour, that and they make it illegal and f**king hard to organise protests. One ends up feeling resigned to this for lack of alternatives.

In order to get p***ed off with things and really wave your fist in an overly idealistic way you need to get more radical, hence the amount of "loony lefties".

What I think students really need is an independent, apolitical Royal Society for the Protection and Care of Students that works with Union Sabbaticals to stop us from damaging ourselves and sole concern is education and welfare and NOTHING ELSE. That, or I think we should all just hug each other. I'd like that.

Apr 06 2008 02:23

This is all rather depressing. I voted to affiliate with the NUS because I thought it would give a national, united voice on things that matter to students. I was wrong. They bicker, mostly about things which they really shouldn't be spending their time discussing. I'm rather reticent about disaffiliating so soon but the prospects for change in the NUS seem rather grim. It does look like I'll be voting in support of a referendum at Council.

Apr 06 2008 02:38

Although Iraq, Darfur and Palestine are incredibly serious issues, will a stance that the NUS takes really make any difference? its much more constructive to engage the student bodies on a local level and to leave the NUS as a place for serious and focussed discussion on student issues.

I really think that all students who are members of NUS unis should be allowed to e-vote on issues for a much better consensus, quicker action and greater results.

Conferences where driven members from unis who become NUS delegates to represent others, but in reality represent their own far left or right priorities, are an ineffective way of running an institution in modern times. if everyone could have a say, it would take a lot of the ego, drama and centralisation out of the process.

15. ke   
Apr 06 2008 11:23

It's not just about NUS taking a "stance" on issues like Darfur and Iran - those kind of motions include provisions to fund the campaign organisations and support students who want to protest and campaign. They're student issues - students have been the leaders of every protest going back decades, and their national union should support them.

Apr 06 2008 11:55

Compare the number of students who actively campaign on issues such as Darfur and Iran, to the number of students who face issues affecting them as students. Is it not a more worthwhile use of the NUS's time and resources to help change the issues affecting students, rather than worldwide issues?

You seem to be stuck in your idealistic world, where you believe that the world governments listen to students over major world issues. When the NUS puts forward a coherent, logical and sensible argument, presented in a clear manner, then maybe people will listen, or at least take you seriously.

Apr 06 2008 15:00

"You seem to be stuck in your idealistic world, where you believe that the world governments listen to students over major world issues". Vietnam is an obvious example of where student pressure in the U.S.A. led to change on a major world issue i.e. the Vietnam War.

The N.U.S. should represent students. Do students care about world issues? Yes definitely. Therefore the N.U.S. taking a stance on world issues is logical. Do Imperial students care about world issues? Not as much as other universities. Clearly Imperial is not interested in protesting for human rights, while the N.U.S. is; this doesn't make the N.U.S. wrong, it just means that Imperial may be incompatible with the N.U.S.

Apr 06 2008 15:40

Do students care about world issues? Yes.

Does the world care about student issues? Well, I can tell you it's not a firm "Yes".

Should the NUS concentrate on student issues rather than career posturing at other peoples' expense? Yes.

Apr 06 2008 15:43

The USA pulled out of Vietnam 35 years ago, and that was (partially) due to opposition from a wide variety of walks of life, not just students. I cannot think of a major event where students have contributed to change in the way that you are suggesting.

As for your question, do students care about world issues? I do not deny that. But by your logic because say for instance teachers care about world issues the National Union of Teachers should be protesting about involvement in these situations. Look at it this way, and you see how ridiculous the argument becomes.

Apr 06 2008 16:47

a comparison between the n u t and the n u s, does not stand because they are too different.

what i'm saying is that there is nothing wrong with students making a formal stance on world issues. there may be a lack of balance within the nus, i.e. they don't spend enough time on domestic issues regarding higher education but again this doesn't mean that spending time on international issues is wrong.

Apr 06 2008 16:49

"Vietnam is an obvious example"

Correction: Vietnam was an obvious example.

Nowadays when students don't really care too much about the distant world and even mass protests do not have any effect on govt policy, what difference will the NUS make? The modern medium for engagement is the media, the internet and a greater micro-level interaction with students and people at large.

Vietnam etc were successful because icons such as Lennon made it cool to protest. Nowadays its not cool but it is simultaneously more important.

Mass protests are still needed but resources need to be utilised wisely to bring change and counter the mass govt spin and public apathy/insulation. Being emotional and hijacking the NUS's function is passion & energy for the right causes expended wastefully.

Apr 06 2008 16:55

"a comparison between the n u t and the n u s, does not stand because they are too different."

Thats the whole point! One does something for their members, is respected and listened to by the government, and makes logical demands. Can you guess which one I am talking about?

If students want to take a stance on international issues they should join amnesty international etc, not turn the organisation that is meant to be representing students into some deluded organisation that sets out to save the world. Horses for courses.

Apr 06 2008 21:07

Ammar Waraich

I don't disagree necessarily with your comments. I agree there is a question of how effective mass protest is anymore; consider the march against the war in iraq. However this shouldn't be exaggerated.

I don't dispute that there are problems with so called 'hijacking' of the N.U.S. however there is a knee-jerk reaction, on Live! at least, to motions regarding human rights etc.

Andrew Holland

The n u t is different because its members are professional employees, not students. A big reason why the government listens to teachers, although we could argue about that as well, is they have the ability to strike. In other words they have the ability to engage in mass action, that disrupts the country and gains publicity. Also the co-operation of teachers is needed for the government to implement policy.

a balance is needed in the N.U.S. to ensure that domestic issues are given due attention, i don't dispute.however some issues deserve to be heard on every possible platform, yes some things are just that important.

Apr 06 2008 21:17

The NUT was a random example, but I agree with you in that trade unions have something to barter with in negotiations, as their members provide a service to society in general. As much as certain people seem loathe to admit it, students have very little with which to negotiate with. This means that our limited negotiating power should not be spent on issues that other major organisations campaign on, and which NUS involvement will have minimal influence. Dozens of organisations campaign against third world debt for example, but there is only one national voice for students.

Apr 06 2008 21:49

This report is both innacurate and incredibly self centred. The NUS was never meant to be an organisation that was focused entirely on students, it is, and always has been an outward looking organisation which represents student views on a larger scale. It has from its conception campaigned on wider world issues from apartheid to the Vietnam War and for you to discredit the importance of taking a stance against war is disgusting and exposes you for the self important git reminiscent of Harry Enfield's Tory Boy.

Jennifer Morgan:

"There?s no way a third of British students are respect/far left but there is at least that fraction at NUS"

This is a complete falsehood, meaning you are either a liar or are incompetent of making a point without stretching the truth. There were around 80 Respect delegates at conference, altogether around 150 belonged to left wing groups, this number constitutes less than half of those who voted against the governance review.

If you feel that the NUS is not adequetely representing you as a person who is 'white, middle class and enjoying an education in my own country' then why not dissafiliate. I am confident the loss in funds for the NUS will be made up for by the absence of an institution focused so inwardly on its own needs.

Apr 06 2008 22:18


I'd be happy to correct any inaccuracies - please let me know where they are. As far as I can see the article above the "views" is a fair reflection of what went on.

"incredibly self-centred"

I'm afraid our union exists to look after the needs of our students, not all students. Consequently we go to NUS conference to look out the needs of Imperial students. Why should we expend resources on things not related to our students?

Apr 06 2008 22:25

"t has from its conception campaigned on wider world issues"

Which is why we've been out of NUS for more years than we've been in.

Apr 06 2008 22:43

Our delegation didn't count the respect/far left delegates, sorry, I suppose you might have expected more of scientists and engineers. I can't believe your estimates though. It certainly felt like there were a lot more than you are trying to suggest. Perhaps it was their pushing of newspapers and flyers, domination of the stands and fringe events, graffiti in the toilets and billpostering near the train station that made it seem a little crowded with green!

Apr 06 2008 22:49

As a generally "apathetic" and uninvolved Imperial student I may be somewhat uninformed - so I decided to google "NUS conference" and all I could find were reports and bloggs moaning about the dire state the NUS is in.

Perhaps our delegates' comments and all those other articles are "inaccurate" and "self-centred". Or maybe it's all part of a right-wing conspiracy? Somehow I think not.

Say what you like, but I believe we (those who would like to leave) should forget justifying ourselves to those who have made up their mind and focus on our efforts on bailing from this dysfunctional, self-serving union asap.

Apr 07 2008 01:14

"Say what you like, but I believe we (those who would like to leave) should forget justifying ourselves to those who have made up their mind and focus on our efforts on bailing from this dysfunctional, self-serving union asap."

You are contradicting the exact argument made by everyone else. You cannot argue the case for dissafiliation because the NUS 'wastes time' talking about issues that don't affect Imperial College such as war with Iran, then claim it is self serving.

It is Imperial College which is self serving, if you want to disafiliate wih the NUS because it doesn't pander to the needs of Imperial College and wastes time discussing world issues which could mean life and death for students elsewhere then go and leave, my opinion is it would be better without such a selfish union.

Doris: as for you not believing those numbers it makes no difference, it may have seemed like there were more of us because of our campaigning, that might be true, it is precisely because we campaigned and actually engaged in the debate that we were able to convince enough people that the review was a bad idea, despite the threats of this being 'the last chance' for the NUS.

The theme of this article seems to be, why should we be in the NUS if it doesn't do what we want it to. The idea of a union is that it represents the group as a WHOLE, if you find yourself so far removed from the rest of the students in the United Kingdom and unable to reach a common ground, then leave. Either that or stop wining like spolit brats when your views don't match the majority of the country.

Apr 07 2008 01:19

the comments regarding innacuracy were aimed at the delegates reports, the criticism of the article being self centred stands.

Apr 07 2008 03:15

I wonder how many student unions have to disaffiliate before the NUS can no longer claim to represent the students of "virtually every college and university in the country"?

Apr 07 2008 07:32

At disgusted at Imperial, if you are going to slag us off can you at least have the courage to use your own name.

To address your points one at a time:

Claiming that the NUS has always been outward looking is ridiculous. Even if it was outward looking when it was first founded, the make up of students back then (ie 99% white male upper class) meant that there were less problems that 1923 students faced than todays students face.

Whilst calling Jen Morgan a liar, you mentioned some figures. Essentially she said that 33% of delegates were from left wing groups, whilst you said that around 20% were. A simple mistake in counting. It may be true that you make yourselves known, but as somebody has said you were graffitting and billposting, and generally annoying not just students but members of the public. If you want to "make a stand" try doing it more sensibly. "No to the governence review" does not have the same ring to it as "no to apartheid".

As for selfishness, do you believe that spending the individiual students unions time, resources and money on campaigns that have no benefit to students is unselfish. NUS elected officials are there to represent their students, not to pander to their political views. For many Imperial students the breaking of mandate by Camilla Royle was "selfishness". You are the selfish ones.

Apr 07 2008 09:04

@ "disgusted with imperial"

OK, the article was supposed to be self-centred and I don't deny that fact. That's the point of reporting back to students about how their needs have been served - that was also in the manifesto under which I was elected.

I could have said "NUS decided to screw you over, but its all fine because they took a stand against a non-existent war", but that wouldn't have washed with the people who elected me...

35. Flower   
Apr 07 2008 09:39

To be honest I think that "disgusted with imperial" has shown up the problem with the NUS in three easy posts.

When I'm new somewhere I'll listen for a bit, sit down, chat, debate my points of view and allow negociation to take us to some middle ground view point.

The perception of the left wing is that they will arrive, shout "you're all wrong", or be generally rude "this report is..." and then stand in such a way to prevent negociation.

That's why I don't like the NUS - the perception is that there is a very large block of people who you can't do business with.

So whats the business case for investing ?40000(?) a year when you can't get anything done?

Disgusted, could you comment perhaps - what is our business case please? I want to know what it is.

Apr 07 2008 10:00

Having been a first time delegate at the conference, i felt appalled at the state of the NUS. 3 days of bickering, and infighting interspursed with repeated calls for access (campaigners disrupting everything again) achieved nothing. A complete waste of time!

37. Jen   
Apr 07 2008 10:47

@ Disgusted with Imperial. I'm so sorry I didn't see fit to count, a third was an educated guess. If I hadn't have known any better I would have said 3/4! You were everywhere! Blocking the doors left, right and centre! (love the pun). Do you know I went out of conference for 5 minutes, I came back to find a disabled student who was literally terrified to cross your river of paper thrusting people. When I went and asked people if they could just step back a moment I was told to f**k off. So quite frankly disgusted, I am truly disgusted with you and those you represent.

I do not give a flying monkeys what politics people have, in fact I'm more like a pendulum throughout the left-right spectrum, but at conference everyone grouped themselves and instead of engaging with the student issues being discussed you were engaging in war with anyone who dared to disagree with you.

Consider the example of the government. It offers charity and humanitarian aid to people in need. Even though there are a range of organisations that specifically deal with such issues and there 'is no direct benefit' to its citizens, the government still does its part.

Obviously this parallel can be disputed on the grounds of difference in effectiveness, however the principle still stands

Apr 07 2008 11:02

That simplifies the issue of international aid. There are very good reasons to provide international aid which do provide a benefit to the politicians or citizens of a country. a) it can win votes in an election. b) aid money flows back to the countries that gave it, as economies develop. c) cutting poverty and deprivation tends to reduce extremism, terrorism and war as the pressure on resources reduces and education improves.

The NUS derives no such benefits from screaming and shouting about every international issue going. It is an organisation which has no bargaining power: students cannot strike. Without such bargaining power it has to rely on what little political capital it has, that being the power of students to vote. Squandering that political capital on international issues is a waste while the student vote is so weak - when it is stronger, then maybe it makes sense.

Personally, I'd like to see a powerful student voice, representative of the majority (but which protects the minority), which can go into parliament and say "this is what we want, give it to us or all seven million students we represent will vote you out".

Then we'd be in a much better position to say "Darfur is wrong, get off your a**es and do something about it". But we aren't in that position, nor are we at the point where NUS represents students views well enough to get to that point - it isn't credible enough to make a block vote work.

40. Jess   
Apr 07 2008 11:06

@ Disgusted with imperial: "The idea of a union is that it represents the group as a WHOLE"

the NUS does not represent the group as a WHOLE though does it, and that is the WHOLE reason we are so disillusioned with the union as a WHOLE because we are not represented at all!!!!

41. ke   
Apr 07 2008 11:20

Just wanted to say that this whole thing about 'breaking mandates' is ridiculous - mandates are inherently undemocratic. Delegates are elected on clear manifestos by cross-campus ballot to represent their own views. If you're going to make them all take the union's line, then what exactly is the point of that? You might as well just send the SU president to vote - they could do it online even...

The delegates of a particular university should proportionally represent its views. I'm sure Imperial has at least some lefties, and so Camilla Royle was there as their sole representative. Trying to bully her into voting your way is just unfair and wrong.

Apr 07 2008 11:36

i think disgusted at imperial has a fair point:

Did anyone read the NUS constitution? if it does indeed have in it that the NUS will take a serious stance on global political issues then we should accept the NUS as it is and have a referndum on whether we want our voice to be expressed along side a "socialist" party like respect.

Apr 07 2008 11:48

I don't have a problem with it taking a stance on global issues - just not the divisive ones. Darfur isn't a divisive one, except on the point of whether the troops should be supported. Anything on Palestine gets divisive, anything on the middle-east in general gets divisive. If we can't come up with text with 90% support, it shouldn't be supported.

How can we have a National Union of Students when we have no unity? Divisions are caused based on issues that aren't about students as students. Fine, lets have arguments about national bursary schemes, lets universally condemn what's happening in Darfur, but lets not argue about Palestine, and have to throw people out for anti-Semitism... It's a pathetic joke.

Apr 07 2008 12:04

The post-conference newsletter from the NUS:

45. @ ke   
Apr 07 2008 12:09

the reason delegates are given mandates is because that is what our union has democratically decided what our union as a whole wants and believes and many of our delegates were elected not for their views but because they promised to report back on what actually happened!

46. Flower   
Apr 07 2008 13:04

Am I missing something?

Under finance there is a line and a half concerning the financial situtation of the NUS whilst there are two bald paragraphs on climate change?

Please tell me that this doesn't represent the time spent at conference, and that sufficient time was devoted to making sure that the finances are, actually, correct.

Nothing about next years budget?

I'll answer your points one by one.

Andrew Holland: "It may be true that you make yourselves known, but as somebody has said you were graffitting and billposting, and generally annoying not just students but members of the public. If you want to "make a stand" try doing it more sensibly."

If we had been allowed to debate the governance review sufficiently we wouldnt have had to campaign so hard. It wasn't an option to campaign nicely nicely, we had to work our a**es off to get our point across. We were denied a room in the Winter Gardens to hold a rally, the reasons supposedly that there was no room, only to find out a week later that Gemma Tumelty had booked the room after us to hold a 'pro review' rally. An open letter was written asking for an open debate in this space but was ignored. At the extraordinary conference debate was stifled, only a 5minute speech for and against was allowed and the rest of discussions were on ammendments. My point is, if we were allowed to debate, we wouldnt need to campaign, as we were stifled we had no choice.

If your candidate Camilla Royle was elected on a mandate to oppose the governance review she has every right to do so, her being elecdted on that platform outweighs any mandate from the union.

Flower: "The perception of the left wing is that they will arrive, shout "you're all wrong", or be generally rude "this report is..." and then stand in such a way to prevent negociation."

IF this is the perception it is innacurate to single the left out, all sides campaigned extremely hard. The reason the governance review fell is because we provided detailed arguements as to why the governance review was wrong, I would be happy to provide you with all these arguments if you care enough. We did not just shout, that is more true of those supporting the review, empty calls for change were met with detailed arguments.

"So whats the business case for investing ?40000(?) a year when you can't get anything done?"

Again your completely wrong when you say nothing got done. Plenty of motions were passed that benefit the whole student population, they were voted on by the majority of students at conference. What you mean to say is why should we be in the union if it doesnt do what we want, which is a valid question. As I said previously, if Imperial College is so far removed from the view of the rest of the country then maybe it should disafiliate, the NUS can't change to cater to your needs, it represents students as a whole.


For you to claim that those campaigning and blocking the door were all lefty's and that somehow we are mre inconsiderate than those for reform is laughable, it is also untrue. There were a massive amount of campaigns going on all through conference, when I came out the door I saw not a huge bunch of lefty's getting in everyones face and the rest stood patiently at the side, those blocking the doors were from both sides, this was clear in all the access statements so stop misleading people.

"but at conference everyone grouped themselves and instead of engaging with the student issues being discussed you were engaging in war with anyone who dared to disagree with you."

Again I disagree with you completely, personally I had a huge number of lengthy discussions with those who were undecided and those who were voting for the governance review, we were there purely to debate with people and attempt to change their minds, it would do us no good to shout at people and declare war and that is not what we did, again I think you are misleading in your comments.

Jess: "the NUS does not represent the group as a WHOLE though does it, and that is the WHOLE reason we are so disillusioned with the union as a WHOLE because we are not represented at all!!!!"

No no, as previously stated, as is the whole point of this article, you are disillusioned because the NUS doesn't represent the views of Imperial College, it does represent students as a whole. All motions are passed by a majority and without consensus this is the only way to represent a group. Just because the NUS doesnt pander to the needs of Imperial College London that doesnt mean it doesnt represent the whole.

Ashley Brown:

I don't want to get bogged down in discussing global issues, my personal belief is that the NUS can and should take an interest in global affairs, it has, and always should campaign on these issues.

Also I know you probably will not agree with this but the Israel-Palestine question, while it is devisive, is very clear in that one country is being occupied, and the other is occupying. It is only because the Zionist movement has such a loud voice that this issue remains so devisive. Again, to get bogged down in this debate would be a waste of time.

Apr 07 2008 14:17

Richard Hill:

If, as you claim, you were campaigning in the heavy way that you were because you were not having your voice heard, you have obviously failed to have done your homework. The NUS likes to mention things such as opposition to to apartheid the Vietnam war, but fails to see that two of the most influential movements in the 20th Century, namely Indian independence and the US civil rights movement, were based nearly entirely on peaceful protesting. Talking sensibly works better than shouting your head off.

Camilla stood for the postion, and was elected, knowing that she was supposed to obey the mandate. She lied. That is what people are annoyed about, not at her political views.

Apr 07 2008 14:25

As far as I can see, the one thing that seems to be agreed here is that the NUS can do nothing for Imperial. This is a point even Richard Hill makes repeatedly. We apparently have this crazy notion of wanting to represent the needs of our students- madness! We don't want anymore factional bickering so things that would actually serve the needs of students- like a national union with real bargaining power as has already been said- what heresey! Reform to do this? Blasphemer!

The NUS has done nothing for us except a pathetic and lacklustre discount scheme that very few people at Imperial use and trying to blacken the name of our university by banding us with one group of people or another. If the NUS does nothing for us, let's leave. It seems the NUS need us and (more importantly) our cheque more than we need them. As a medical student, we're always in the business of "?300000 on PR!? That could be spent on x amount of ITU beds!" I wonder what ?38000 could be spent on at Imperial. The Beit redevelopment perhaps?

As for Camilla Royal... I assume the trip was paid for by the union? If she wanted to go against the mandate then she should have paid to go to conference herself, rather than use union funds. As for undemocractic, the mandate is part of the democratically ratified constitution and so disgaree with it through the proper channels.

50. Seb   
Apr 07 2008 14:27


Be careful what you wish for. A stampede to the door from the big unions that provide the bulk of the funding means there won't BE an NUS. You will be worse off.

A majority voted, in the end, for the Governance review. How does that square with this idea that Imperial is so far removed from the rest of the country?

Apr 07 2008 14:28

Andrew Holland I think you are confused. You are somehow suggesting that we didn't engage in peaceful protest? That handing out leaflets is somehow a violent act? EVERYONE was leafleting, to claim it was just the left doing it is idiotic, it was clear to see that EVERYONE was conducting an agressive leafleting campaign, you are misleading people by singling one side out.

We HAD to leaflet at conference otherwise no one would have heard our argument, we couldn't have just set up a stall and waited for people to come over and have a chat, we had to go out and engage people in debate. If the NEC had held a proper debate over the review it wouldn't have been necessary, as it was they didn't.

Apr 07 2008 14:31

Vandalism, stopping disabled student, billposting etc

Apr 07 2008 14:34

Seb: "A majority voted, in the end, for the Governance review. How does that square with this idea that Imperial is so far removed from the rest of the country?"

This would seem to sugest that the failure of the governance review was the only gripe Imperial had with the conference, that wasn't the impression I got. The article and several of the comments have made the point that the NUS does not represent Imperial, in other words, the majority of the NUS votes differently to Imperial. You are contradicting the point that everyone else has made.

54. Seb   
Apr 07 2008 14:37

Wow... just wow.

Writing to RBS to tell them to stop funding oil exploration, in the financial section of the report. I hardly think they should be lecturing their bankers when the liklihood is that they are going to be asking for overdraft facilities before long.

Cutting oil exploration isn't going to stop climate change, crude is the feedstock for everything from plastics through to lubricants and medicines.

Even if we eliminate oil as a fuel source, we are going to be dependent on it for a long time.

55. Flower   
Apr 07 2008 14:51

"Plenty of motions were passed that benefit the whole student population, they were voted on by the majority of students at conference."


Next question - and I'm going to assume the same thing happens every year - how many of last years motions have had tangiable results, or is SMART* not really applicable?

I'll be honest, much like the UK's position within the EU I realise that you have to be in something with two feet to make changes. I also realise that a nationally strong NUS is a good thing.

My concern is that the NUS has turned into a "youth" parliament. That is not something that I believe ICU should invest in.

*Specific, measurable, achieveable, realistic and timely, or something like that.

Apr 07 2008 14:53

"Be careful what you wish for. A stampede to the door from the big unions that provide the bulk of the funding means there won't BE an NUS. You will be worse off."

Exactly why? The idea that a bunch of far left egits can represent the views of the people of Darfur/Tibet/Wherever.. *no sorry* our views better than our president elect is bizarre.

The NUS cant continue in its current state and if it has to die to change so be it

57. Jen   
Apr 07 2008 14:55

Ooo petty bickering what fun! I assure you disgusted that the majority of the flyering/door blocking/telling me and the disabled student to f**k off-ing was done by those in green t shirts!! There were a few orange t shirts plodding around before the reform motion (pretty early on in conference) and after that I just saw green! Whilst our president and deputy president were speaking at the rostrum all you could do was yell at us! I reported back how I felt and what I saw in the article above. But let me tell you I truly wanted the NUS to work for us and when my fellow delegates were muttering disafilliation by the end of the first session I was the one who said "we'll see, let's remain open minded" but after three days and even the nights (in the bars and clubs) we were shunned and made to feel like dirt and I don't have time for a collective like that.

I just hope that this is all sorted out (either way) before I get into office because I want to be dealing with issues that are important to Imperial students as students and not still mopping up this mess!

58. Seb   
Apr 07 2008 14:57

In the wider sense, yes. There is that too.

Ultimately, it seems a politically active body of left wing students wants the NUS to be a platform to talk about global issues. The NUS should pass motions where consensus can be achieved, rather than a 51/49 organisation relying on emotional blackmail to amplify the voice of a small minority to claim to speak on behalf of all students.

Fundementaly, this isn't 1968, the demographics are against us. Back then, the number of young people outweighed the old. Check the demographics now. As a block vote, students are weak. Pensions get a bigger vote than grants. We need to couch our arguments carefully and logically.

Furthermore, back then was an era of consensus politics, which doesn't exist so much any more. Just being a "representative body" doesn't automatically get you a voice at the table, unless the body you represent is important enough in some way to effect the Government.

Say "we represent all students!" to Government. The Government will turn around and say "and so what? You are a small demographic, largely concentrated in certain areas, few of you vote and even fewer of you are likely to change vote based on our policies".

A good number of Labor MP's have been involved in the NUS, and probably know just how little an NUS policy or statement will actually cause students to change their votes at the ballot box. As a form of collective negotiation, it is irrelevant in terms of leverage except perhaps in the field of education.

Organised as students, we don't have the punch. The NUS is not the appropriate platform for effecting change on national and international policies, whereas there are numerous platforms for making a difference. Platforms that could actually achieve things, and could do with the time, energy and manpower of student volunteers.

Of course, that means being a small fish in a big pond, rather than the biggest fish in a tiny puddle.

The typical Imperial response is not "we don't care about these issues" as it is often characterised, but one that recognises that if you want to stop the war, the best place to do that is from a "stop the war" communities and organisations, not from a stop the war community within the student "movement".

59. Seb   
Apr 07 2008 15:00

@ nus is dying:

"Exactly why?"

I was talking to Richard Hill. If he honestly thinks that the NUS is better off being of 100% unified voice for his faction by having the others leave, he will find the organisation will collapse, and he will be worse off.

60. Jen   
Apr 07 2008 15:04

I think Seb is pretty well bang on the nose in post 58.

Apr 07 2008 15:34

I think it would benefit most people commenting on here if they took time out from ranting on Live! and learnt basic spelling and grammar instead.

Oh, and Imperial should disaffiliate.

62. Jess   
Apr 07 2008 15:36

@ Richard Hill

this may be a rather silly question, but are you a student @ Imperial?!??? it may help me understand your arguments a little better...

@ Jen and Seb

a round of applause for you, i agree with every word

Apr 07 2008 17:41

"It is only because the Zionist movement has such a loud voice that this issue remains so devisive"

Oh Great, another person who believes 'Zionists' control the media!!

I wonder what other theories you have ...

64. hurrah   
Apr 07 2008 18:12

seb post 58 has got it right me thinks.

if only i knew his surname i could search him on facebook :(

except i really do believe that many people at imperial don't care about certain important issues but thats just a minor point

Apr 07 2008 18:26

"wastes time discussing world issues which could mean life and death for students elsewhere then go and leave, my opinion is it would be better without such a selfish union."

Yeah, cos you can save the world via the NUS, mmm hmm, let's pay 40,000 to help you do that whilst you heckle us at the same time.

Apr 07 2008 19:07

Seb (post 58) is an ex-Imperial Physicist, his surname is - rather suprisingly - in his e-mail address...

Apr 07 2008 19:40

I think you will find that like most institutions, most students at Imperial do care about World issues. Certainly most of my friends did. There will always be a minority of people who really don't care. Having said that majority of Imperial students just choose to talk about those issues away from a platform that was designed to represents students on stuent matters. This doesn't mean they don't have a view of their own on such matters and this certainly doesn't mean they don't want to do anything about the issues.

68. Seb   
Apr 07 2008 20:52

Who says ex?

I'm in write up at the moment, so ex member of ICU I suppose. Did my UG here too.

Apr 07 2008 22:50

I thought you'd finished at Imperial and were permanently working in Oxford? I knew you were ex-UG at Imperial, I remember many a conversation with you about nuclear Physics in the Blackett computer room...

70. Seb   
Apr 08 2008 00:37

Nah, it's an Imperial PhD but the experiment is MAST, which is out near Oxford. Exiled, basically :).

Hmm. Trying to figure out who you are. Drop me a line on facebook.

Apr 08 2008 03:07

live! does do some good :)

72. uh oh   
Apr 08 2008 09:25

Come on people this is the home of petty bickering anonymous, we can't have anyone being friendly or our funding might be cut from the BNP!

Apr 08 2008 10:32

Nah, it's fine, we're not engineers.

Apr 09 2008 14:56

Someone should have told NUS Stephen Brown what Imperial thought of conference before he wrote his leaving speech. This is a paragraph from his lengthy speech where he expressed his disappointment at the lack of reform:

"The real victory amongst the lies and hypocrisy is a victory for Sheffield University SU, for Bangor, Edinburgh, Royal Holloway, Imperial and others whose previously over-cynical viewpoint of NUS has changed dramatically. They kept their promises by pushing for change and we kept ours to them, by throwing everything we could at it. There renewed enthusiasm for NUS and belief is the real victory here and that really is the silver lining."

Full speech is available here but be warned: only read it if you really have nothing better to do. It may take several hours.

75. Seb   
Apr 09 2008 15:11

If we are going to do mass cross campus disaffiliations, perhaps we should organise an alternative to the NUS? Keep it HE and research based universities specific, to give it the focus it needs to be able to campaign on issues that have direct impact on institutions like Imperial.

Though I gather the Aldwych group isn't amazingly well run either.

Apr 09 2008 15:47

OK in principle, harder in practice.

Aldwych is just a talking shop for Sabbs. It allows sharing best practice but so far has failed to actually DO anything.

As far as mass-disaffiliations, Imperial is far easier to convince. Other Unions are not used to bobbing in and out like we have and are not used to standing on their own. It will take a lot more convincing of other Unions to consider disaffiliation and even with a referendum, will their students want to get rid of their discount cards?

77. well..   
Apr 09 2008 17:43

Discount cards, discount cards? Those things that cost a tenner each anyway? (don't they?)

I don't think we need to be concerned with what other unions are getting up to we just need to concentrate on our own. I don't really think we need a national voice at all anyway - we're a highly respected university. Even if we weren't in the NUS they're going to continue to represent the "student view" so I don't think we really need to pay our affiliation fees for them to go off on one over a load of things we're not terribly enthusiastic about, although I do appreciate that if all the student unions left there would be no NUS.

Having said that I think disaffiliating is really serious, I don't think it's something we should do off the cuff and I would appeal to pro NUS-ers to refresh our memories with the benefits that we do get..... (I can't think of any..sorry).

Apr 09 2008 18:33

I think calling for disaffiliation at this stage is somewhat premature. The review was only narrowly defeated, but it is still the official policy of the NUS. There is still a good chance of it passing. Let's not jump the gun and disaffiliate while there's still a possibility of change.

And people don't vote against Foreign Policy motions because they don't care, they vote against them because they don't think the NUS can do anything about them.

Apr 09 2008 22:24

Why is the NUS so anti USA?

We bailed you out of two world wars and all we get is c**p from you liberal fags, we're breaking our asses saving Iraqi people day in day out and all you want to do is pull out??? USA RULES

Apr 10 2008 13:14

to be honest, ben gray (hi), i think even if the governance review eventually passes it wont make much difference. the motions will still be cack and irrelevant to us, we'll still have to listen to extreme students arguing about things that don't matter, still will never get through anything in a conference and still not be at all benefitted by our membership...

Apr 10 2008 16:44

I agree with Victoria. It is all well and good joining a national voice, only if the national voice represents our view. How the organisation is run has little relevance with the ultimate aims of the organisation. I dare say that most Imperial students want something totally different from the more vocal NUS members and those FE colleges.

I am not being bias or prejudice, just being realistic about what really benefit our own students at Imperial. This is not to say I don't care about students of other universities or the World as a whole. In most cases, to agree or accept the "national" opinion on fees and how bursary should be centralised just to name a few, these decisions directly harm our own students by spreading the already thin funding even thinner and taking money away from those students who need the more generous grants from Imperial directly. This is why I have never been to fond of the NUS nor the dressed up penguins.

Apr 10 2008 18:04

Nobody's under any illusions that the Governance Review is but the start of a process in which that national voice is reclaimed from such petty bickering and infighting. I'm tempted to say that conference wasn't as bad as it could have been: we got through a good position (if not perfect, and certainly with room for delegations like Imperial to manoeuvre) on HE Funding, and the moderates will have now galvanised against the trainwreckers of the extreme left. Had delegations arrived at full strength, had mandates been better enforced, and had that recount not been derailed due to an administrative foul-up, the constitution would have passed. Those problems are not insurmountable, and when we return to the question following a further stage of review, there is a much greater chance that the vote will go the way of reform.

Despite the very vocal hard left, they were largely trampled on at the NEC elections in favour of such moderates. Both Student Broad Left and Education Not for Sale failed to get any of their candidates on the NEC, Hind Hassan won her place through tacking to the centre, and Rob Owen through the way RESPECT engineered their block vote. Despite the setback on governance the conference was largely a victory for moderates.

I say it's premature to call for disaffiliation because with the current NEC, the clear majority in favour of the review, the acceptance of pragmatic bargaining positions, and the distinct possibility of the review being passed in the next twelve months, it would be unnecessary to use the nuclear option when there's still a clear prospect for success.

The question boils down to whether or not it is preferable that students have some form of national representation. If you believe so, then surely it's better to stay in and try to press for reform while it remains a distinct possibility rather than leave and shift the votes even further in favour of the snotshirts.

And "WTF, we saved you": up yours you pre-pubescent Keyboard Commando prat. You turned up late to both wars, dragged in kicking and screaming then taking all the credit.

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