This afternoon the NUS was once again attempting to reform itself, at an extraordinary conference in Wolverhampton. In contrast to last year's extraordinary conference, it appears to have been a very civilised affair, although a number of changes went through. Conference eventually voted in favour of the revised reform proposals by 614 votes to 142, easily meeting the 2/3 majority needed to change the constitution.
The decision must be ratified at a second conference, either a further Extraordinary Conference or at Annual Conference in April. In either case, Imperial will play no further part in the process due to our disaffiliation.
The reforms originally eased the requirements for delegates to Annual Conference to be elected by cross-campus ballot, however this has been reversed. Proposals to allow elected officers - who typically receive many times the number of votes of NUS delegates - to automatically qualify for conference failed to pass.
The controversial Trustee Board remains intact, with the Black Students campaign failing in its attempt to have an automatic seat for all liberation campaigns on the supposedly apolitical board. The board's function is to ensure the NUS remains financially viable and acts within the law, which led to concerns that it could simply throw out anything it did not like. This was clarified, with the Annual Conference able to refer items back to the Trustee Board if it disagrees with their decision. A proposal to remove external trustees was also defeated, meaning the 'safety net' committee will be recruiting from outside the student movement.
Attempts by far left groups to kill off the talk of reform once and for all were rejected again, along with a number of other amendments. A proposal to force conference delegations to be 50% female was thrown out - the amendment noted that over 50% of students are women, but the same does not apply to conference delegations. It should be noted that despite Imperial's gender imbalance, the last conference delegation was almost a 50/50 split.
One other amendment of note aimed to stop ratification of the reforms occurring at a second extraordinary conference, instead requiring that the Annual Conference be the one to approve the changes. However, this was also rejected, fuelling speculation that reforms will be 'forced through' by holding an additional extraordinary conference, for which delegates do not need to be selected by cross-campus ballot.
Reports from Imperial's delegates indicate it was a civilised affair, and the margin by which the reforms passed is more convincing than the last attempt.