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This time, I'm voting 'No'

Jun 05 2008 14:11
Kirsty Patterson
Kirsty Patterson describes her conversion from pro-NUS activitist to anti-NUS campaigner.
Kirsty Patterson

This article was originally written for a Felix issue on 6th June 2008.

I campaigned for Imperial College Union (ICU) to join the NUS back in November 2006 and whilst I think it was worth giving them a chance, I can now safely say they have now proved themselves no longer worthy of the trust I put in them. We were promised an effective NUS that was going to change and that we could play a leading role in driving that change. Instead we have seen their (and our) attempts to change stifled by extremists who would rather that the organisation continued to be their own play park funded by Unions like ours who have countless activities that are far more worthy of the best part of £50,000 per annum that we pay to NUS.

If you are not aware ICU has a controversial history with the NUS as the organisation has never provided any tangible benefits to the student body. Funnily enough, we were a founding member in 1922, disaffiliated in 1923 and then did not re-affiliate until 1939. In 1940 ICU left in protest at the NUS? stance against conscription for WWII. During the 60?s and 70?s we dipped in and out of membership, leaving in 1977 and then finally rejoining in November 2006. This information is just to illustrate that students at Imperial have always had severe reservations about the NUS who have for decades refused to listen. I thought that after all this time it was worth us giving NUS membership another go but this historical evidence does suggest that the organisation is condemned to being institutionally useless.

Shockingly mismanaged, politically irrelevant and inaccessible
Kirsty on the NUS

In this referendum there is no debate about how much of a mess this organisation is in as the threat of financial decline has forced them to come clean. This year we have heard all about how the NUS has suffered from financial mismanagement, disengagement from the issues that are relevant to students and how they are not respected as the "national voice" that they claim themselves to be. NUS will tell you that they are hugely influential yet this is the same "national voice" that is dismissed in parliamentary committees as being only representative of student activists and not ordinary students.

I urge you to vote No! as I believe it is crucial that we emancipate Imperial students from this organisation whose own leaders openly admit has been shockingly mismanaged, politically irrelevant and inaccessible to all but the most hardened political activists. The money that is spent on NUS affiliation could be far better spent by students at Imperial rather than throwing it down the NUS budgetary drainpipe. We were promised a cheaper, radically different NUS by April 2008 and it has not materialised. I believe it would be irresponsible for us to take that gamble with £46,000 of our money that could be far more effectively spent on academic representation and student activities for students at Imperial. Why continue wasting our cash on a "national voice" that consistently fails to reflect the fact that the UK education sector is hugely diverse with different types of institutions pursuing different objectives? By disaffiliating we would not be subsidising this debating club for students who have political aspirations but do very little to further the cause of student support and development on campus. During the course of this referendum you will hear a variety of sob stories about how the NUS is really going to change next year. Well, we've head it all before. Vote No! if you are not willing to take that gamble.

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Discussion about “This time, I'm voting 'No'”

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.
Jun 05 2008 15:44

Hear, hear.

2-4-6-8 vote to disaffiliate!

Don't waste more money on having another attempt at the NUS Governance Gamble!

Jun 05 2008 16:22

Technically voting no means we stay in

Jun 05 2008 16:24

ah, they changed the voting question

i need sleep

Jun 06 2008 14:07

To be honest, I just want my NUS card, I like getting student discounts at shops and cinemas. If you add up all the money that the average student saves using these discounts then I am sure it is greater than the value they gain (on average) from what the union does with the money instead.

Also why are we having the referendum now, at the end of term? Most students will either be too busy with exams/projects or no even here. Seems like someone is trying to sneak this under the radar!

Jun 06 2008 14:36

Nobody in their right mind would stay in the NUS just for the card... the only people who say things like that are hacks and loonie lefties who have alterior motives for wanting to stay in but realise that if they actually want to stay in they have to find a sensible arguement to persuade the majority to want to stay.

And all they can come up with is a "special card" and a student voice.

I have disagreed with the majority of press releases that the NUS have made since we joined and don't want them to be our voice. I get all the discounts with my IC card. I only have problems getting student discounts when I misplace my card and even then I usually get one anyway.

And since my clubs are massively underfunded, as are a lot of clubs I don't think the money will go unspent (can we shotgun maybe a couple of thousand if we promise to increase of membership to match the money pound for pound?)

6. :)   
Jun 06 2008 15:50

I am being serious, I don?t care about any of the politics, I just want the card and the discounts please. I am guessing I am not the only one either. How many students at Imperial actively participate in clubs? Quite a significant proportion I would assume, but still smaller than the number who would benefit from having the NUS card (which is everyone). Maybe your IC card can get you discounts at certain places (some of these are pretty good it must be said) but those are few and far between. If every student saves just ?4 with an NUS card in one year that?ll pay for the membership. You only have to watch a few films or buy one or two CDs and you?ve done that.

Jun 06 2008 16:06

I have yet to be turned down a student discount using my Imperial card.

And to day we're saving a few quid as an individual by -paying- for the card is ridiculous, when we as a Union pay ?46k anyway. If it was free, maybe it could be justifiable.

And doesn't it speak volumes for itself that the one reason anyone can say we should stay in the NUS for with any credbility is a pathetic discount scheme.

All of this is of course ignoring the negative image the NUS paints of its constitent universities by its bickering and unncecessary (and often contradictory) policies on political issues, which really have very little impact on the ordinary student.

Jun 06 2008 18:04

I think we've sold about 600 NUS Extra cards.

How about we charge ?75 for them and stay in the NUS?

Jun 19 2008 17:38

I also just want my NUS discount card..and unlike "Jaimie Henry" I HAVE been turned down for quite a few student discounts using my Imperial card....infact I also once ended up fighting with the manager of a store who said he'd never heard of Imperial anyway and that perhaps my card was fake! I'd say the problem mostly occurs outside zone 2, and outside London generally. Inside central London, the situation is ten times better though, and I've managed to use the card alot.

Regarding NUS extra cards, I think the union should make more of an attempt to sell them, as nobody seems to know that you can go and purchase them there. It's like they're purposefully not telling people about them so that they can say that very little have been bought at the end of the year...I hope this is not the case! or maybe I've just missed the advertising...not sure here.

Jun 19 2008 19:50

Swayed a few people in the JCR by reminding them that HMV and Topshop are leaving the discount sceme. Even though you can use the Imperial card there anyway.

I agree with jaimie that it says it all that the only reason people are bothered about leaving the NUS is the discount card (which is c**p anyway)

Jun 20 2008 08:43

@snowman. Any proof of student status is enough for a student discount. The NUS card was never and will never be an authority of student status, if a company offers discounts for students, it is illegal for them not to offer you one if you prove your student status with an IC card. I would say next time vote with your wallet and stop buying from the place not offering you it. Or write a formal letter of complaint to the retailler.

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