We?re the ninth best university in the world, if you?ve just started your first year congratulations; you probably know your quarks from your gluons and can identify any of the mould species growing in your kitchen cupboard. But how much do you know about running a welfare campaign, dealing with housing and finance issues and finding decent graduate jobs? If these services could be provided for you wouldn?t you want them? This is why we need the NUS.
You might have heard that the NUS is a "loony left" organisation populated entirely by Marxists who want to steal your money and give it to the CND and Stop the War Coalition. In fact these radical campaign ideas are given a very low priority within the organisation although, of course, they are more likely to attract the attention of the media. NUS mostly concerns itself with less glamorous tasks such as securing council tax exemption and providing financial advice for students. Maybe this is why we don?t pay our taxes but the war on terror rages on.
Having said that, the NUS is involved in one high profile campaign this year, the Admission Impossible campaign against top up fees; in doing this it is uniting students across the country in a movement towards fair access, getting young people into universities based on their brains and not their bank accounts. This campaign affects not only today?s first year students but will have repercussions in the years to come but it won?t stand any chance of success unless it is as wide as possible. If Imperial College Union joins the NUS we can use our ideas and enthusiasm to help drive this campaign which will ultimately aim to benefit us as students. Who wants to be remembered as a college full of posh kids that didn?t care about fees?
If we do join you will also be given a standard ?Democracy card? for free confirming your identity as a student so that you can continue to pay student prices at cinemas, nightclubs and other attractions across Britain. There is also an optional ?Extra? discount card similar to the associate card you might have had in the sixth form which includes an integrated ISIC travel card that usually costs £7 and allows access to dozens of exciting offers.
Joining will cost us money but remember that we are saving money this year by pulling out of University of London Union. It is this money that will be spent on the NUS and not the clubs and societies budget. The NUS can give us valuable advice on how to run our union?s clubs and welfare campaigns best on the experiences of the other members and their own expertise. This would surely leave us better off in the long term than if we wasted time and money trying to reinvent the wheel by working it all out ourselves. We will avoid becoming one of the most isolated unions in the country and if the proverbial excrement hits the fan and everything goes wrong for our union we will at least have the support we need to sort it out.
At the end of the day the union is not just a building in Beit quad or a small group of elected officers, it?s every single student at Imperial and every student here should make a sensible choice about the direction it goes in. That?s why we called a referendum instead of just deciding it in a council meeting. The start of the referendum is rapidly approaching so make sure you have your say, get out and vote.