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NUS Stifles Free Speech

Mar 25 2007 16:46
The Dark Knight
A fringe meeting at NUS conference on non-affiliated unions has been censored, to stop a debate on the pros and cons of affiliation taking place.
Gemma Tumelty

NUS President Gemma Tumelty has allegedly banned the Southampton and Glasgow presidents from attending a meeting at NUS conference on the reasons why unions choose to come out, or stay out, of NUS.

The decision was allegedly taken because the pair were deemed to be "liars", who would spread anti-NUS feelings. It has been said that Tumelty did not want Conference, held as the pinnacle of NUS democracy, to be turned into a debate on affiliation.

The aim of the fringe meeting was to hear views from non-affiliated institutions to determine what NUS needed to change to bring them back into the fold. Southampton has previously sent observers with balcony passes, at cost to themselves, to determine if reforms had been taking place. A major motion coming up this year will call for far-reaching reforms, but may be blocked by RESPECT-controlled unions such as Manchester: observers from non-affiliated unions will not be able to see how these reforms are argued for or against.

The alleged characterisation of these democratically-elected students as "liars" is curious, particularly as during the referendum members of the NUS were stating that College would reduce funding if ICU did not affiliate to them, which was a complete fallacy. After much begging from sabbaticals College has agreed to pay most of the affiliation fee for this year, but in future years the balance is to come from ULU money.

Stifling a free a debate on the reasons for remaining outside the NUS may be considered strange behaviour from an NUS President supportive of reforms, who would presumably be keen to hear the reasons why people remain outside.

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Discussion about “NUS Stifles Free Speech”

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.
Mar 25 2007 17:23
 

I wonder if they also regard our President elect as a "liar"? Surely thats not the way to keep us happy.

Mar 25 2007 18:08
 

They probably do but ICU are paying them enough to not mention it obviously.

3. hmm..   
Mar 25 2007 22:35
 

This is ridiculous. The NUS ban a group of their fellow students wanting to raise some very relevant points but they allow the following organisations to host their events:-

  • Abortion Rights
  • CND
  • Palestine Solidarity Campaign
  • Stop the War Coalition

Is there any way we can protest?

4. Seb   
Mar 25 2007 23:45
 

Disaffiliate?

Mar 26 2007 00:03
 

Remind me again why the f**k we're in the NUS.

What a complete waste of time, money, and effort.

If you run on a platform of reform, then exclude the very people who left because you WEREN'T REFORMING, you are at best a hypocrite and at worst a complete imbecile.

I hope our delegation spend their time interrupting stupid RESPECT motions and throwing paper airplanes from the balcony.

Mar 26 2007 01:32
 

I think folding paper aeroplanes should be a compulsary part of delegate training - just so I can at least get mine past the person sitting in front of me. I am no areonautical engineer...

I would say that I am willing to interrupt any stupid RESPECT motions but I think I would be stealing Steve's thunder. This is going to be so much fun.

7. Hmm.   
Mar 26 2007 09:05
 

Live! needs to be careful on this. The editor's feelings on NUS are well-known but that doesn't negate the need for any article that's a less-than-balanced rant to be published as opinion and not news.

Mar 26 2007 09:26
 

This article is entirely factual and the Live Editor has sources to back this up. What is the problem? I see no ranting.

Mar 26 2007 10:12
 

Three independent sources have come forward with this information, including one who was censored for mentioning it on a messageboard.

What Live! is more concerned about is being told "be careful" in a sinister tone whenever an article critical of the NUS appears. These same people have failed to give Live! a positive article to run, except "College pays most of this year's reduced NUS fees", which wouldn't make more than a title and two sentences.

I receive all NUS press-releases - when something more substantial than "NUS response to {budget, report on x, etc}..." comes out and is positive, Live! will run it.

Mar 26 2007 10:30
 

What a complete joke. I have indeed been speaking up against the NUS in affiliation debates... but all I've been hearing for a year is "things have got better" and "things have changed" but now they dont want me to go to conference because I'll just "use it against them"

Surely if things have got better under Gemma etc then they would welcome me to conference. Is it the way I dress?!

The question here is one of accountability... they need to be held responsible for the mistakes - the poor management, the wastage, the debt, the backwards-thinking. Anyone who tries to do that gets ignored, booed or shut out. Last conference I heard the NEC announce that they were in ?500,000 of debt. And they got off scot free!

Enjoy conference, not to worry, we have spies!

11. Hmm.   
Mar 26 2007 10:54
 

Actually it was more the last paragraph, telling NUS what they absolutely should do, that made it read like opinion. The rest is factual in content if not tone (the penultimate paragraph shows which side of the referendum the author was on).

There is a genuine point in the article, and it would be a shame to present in such a way that anyone not already anti-NUS anyway will take one look and say "Oh right, another Ashley-rant."

And as for a simple being 'sinister'- well let's just bring out the conspiracy theories. "I think your personal opinions show in this news piece" is clearly code for "We know where you live."

By the way, I'm not an NUS officer, and if I'd had a chance to vote on affiliation it could well have been a no.

12. Editor   
Mar 26 2007 11:24
 

As you have shown, it is easy to determine what is pure fact and what is opinion which is the important thing. The aim of tagging clear opinion on to the end is to spark a debate - although it was intended to be on the correctness of the statement, rather than whether opinion should be there at all.

I was not referring to your post being "sinister", but to other communications I have received.

I offered all the NUS delegates the opportunity to contribute to Live!'s NUS conference coverage - Alex Guite has agreed so you should see both polarised views and an objective summary when we get back.

Mar 26 2007 15:26
 

Southampton and Glasglow, it is a shame that both of you are banned from the conference. We have sent our team to ensure we have paid good money for good reform and support.

Many people (not necessary the majority) at Imperial is unhappy about our decision to join the NUS. If the NUS fails to show any change and prove our doubts invalid, we will come out and join you again no doubt.

Mean while, I hope our students are getting their fair share from NUS Democracy and Extra Cards. - Hum... yeah Sabbs? Where is my NUS Democracy Cards?

Mar 26 2007 16:28
 

Even though I am attending their conference I would refuse to carry their card as a matter of principle.

Just post my Democracy Card to Venezuela. Apparently they are in need of our "solidarity" so I would like to offer them my card as a sign of support.

Mar 26 2007 17:16
 

We're not bothering with NUS democracy cards this year. I've been told they are cheap ID cards that are labelled "THIS IS NOT A DISCOUNT CARD" in bold text - pretty useless for blagging discounts. Plus they come in batches of minimum size 500 - I doubt we'd shift more than a few dozen.

Mar 26 2007 17:29
 

Thats a bit below the belt on their part. Whilst it would not entitle you to all the "Extra" discounts that have been negotiated for the NUS Extra customers it should still act as an acceptable form of student identification with which you should be able to access all the non-exclusive (the vast majority) student discounts.

I wonder why they've thrown up yet another obstacle to railroad the entire student population into the arms of NUS Extra? Are the NUS short of cash or something? :) If so, they should seek to diversify their income streams so that their solvency is not completely dependent on the fickle whims of the clientele of Top-Shop.

Mar 26 2007 23:01
 

I'm involved heavily in student media on a national scale, and therefore have been able to observe the NUS debate going on across the country. Bangor hosted a referendum recently, and while the majority voted to remain affiliated, it can only be a good thing that students' unions are beginning to consider the issue seriously. At Bangor, NUS Officers and pro-NUS campaigners from outside the uni are said to have spread fear by suggesting that the Bangor Students' Union would lose a portion of it's grant from the Uni if it disaffiliated. I simply cannot understand why this would be the case - the University is much more likely to reward more responsible fiscal management than punish it.

Mar 27 2007 08:46
 

Another example of the unclear message of "who pays what and how" that the NO camp (and potentially YES camp) often failed to get clear from Day One due to the "sensitivity" of the issue, which apparently could affect the running of the Union.

Mar 27 2007 08:54
 

John, according Alex Guite last council meeting, he was refused the discount at Cineworld based on the fact that he connot prove himself as a memeber of NUS. He also claimed that my effort contacting Cineworld have failed to deliver the discount. Surely the so called "This is not a discount card" is the only way out (as it clearly say NUS on it).

I am planning on going to the see a number of big titles in the summer. I would be really annoyed if I have to pay extra everytime. Unless the NUS or ICU is willing to pay me the difference :P Oh and I don't shop at Topshop, so the argument is pretty unfounded for me to fork out 10 pounds and get an Extra card.

Mar 27 2007 09:02
 

It's a very strange thing. As soon as we affiliated I heard lots of people grumbling on about how it was a stupid idea. I just assumed that it was all the usual suspects, i.e. a good chunk of council etc.

But the more I talk to your average Joe Public student, the less support I find for the NUS. Who the hell voted! You would have thought with our good referendum turn out figures that what, 15 out of every 100 students would be pro-NUS?

Barring the pro-NUS Council members I've come across none. Maybe it was all the Medics doing or something...

21. cynic   
Mar 27 2007 10:34
 

Medic president said 'Vote Yes' and as is traditional his flock obviously did...

Either that or the poor English Language skills of a proportion of the college combined with a high computer literacy is a dangerous mix when utilising online voting...

22. Ant   
Mar 27 2007 10:39
 

I must admit I never had a problem getting Cineworld discount whilst a student. Maybe its your friendly NUS anti student discount campaigning filtering down....

23. jess   
Mar 28 2007 04:19
 

is the discount the only thing everyone is bothered about? i have never had trouble getting a student discount with my ic swipecard. i STILL have no trouble, and i'm not even a bloody student any more. people whip my old card out of my wallet (i like it, it's pretty) and go "oh, you're a student, have 10% off" like it's my BIRTHDAY.

i voted no, i hate the nus. and ha ha, you are all stuck with them. ner ner ner.

the reason people voted yes is because they were bribed with sweeties.

Mar 28 2007 09:29
 

If only it could have been a 2/3 majority vote

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