QMSU President and Vice President Welfare put forward the case for Queen Mary remaining part of the National Union of Students
Whether you hit the campaign trail or hid behind the sofa, we’re all familiar with the word ‘referendum’ after the events of 2016. A few weeks into 2017, and QMSU is holding one of its own: ‘Should Queen Mary Students’ Union continue to be part of the National Union of Students (NUS)?’
2016 proved that it’s so important that we exercise our right to vote, and that’s something we’re lucky to be able to do. The NUS were pivotal in reducing the voting age from 21 to 18, and in 2016 their campaign #GenerationVote registered approx. 100,000 additional students so that they could vote in national elections, regardless of their political views. NUS has always championed the voices of students, and fought passionately for our rights and a better society. Today it stands strong, supporting the 7 million students and 550 Students’ Unions it represents.
The ‘No to NUS’ campaigners have told you that the cost of affiliating to the NUS is too much. Their argument doesn’t acknowledge the enormous amount of savings that you and the Union make through affiliation. In semester 1 alone, the Union has already made £14,946.74 through NUS’ advertising scheme and NUS card sales. This doesn’t even cover the savings that are made through NUS Services Limited (NUSSL). Through NUSSL we buy 18G kegs of Carlsberg for £99.99. Carlsberg standard pricing for an 18G keg is £259. Every keg we buy we save £159.01. This is just one of many products we sell at a lower cost through NUSSL, meaning more money for societies and sports clubs.
What the ‘No to NUS’ campaign call ‘petty discounts’ actually shapes up as a hell of a big saving. Over the year you might benefit from council tax exemption, a railcard, an NUS Extra discount card, the Disabled Students’ Allowance, a loan for taught postgraduate study and interest free overdrafts. These are areas where the NUS have directly impacted student savings. The cost of being part of NUS to each QM student? £2.43. That’s less than a Dixies.
Both at QMSU and nationally, NUS does incredible work. NUS successfully campaigned to stop the government’s proposed cuts of £144 million to the Disabled Student’s Allowance. Recently, NUS effectively campaigned for a genderless HPV vaccine which has saved approximately 2000 lives. These are just two examples of how NUS’s work doesn’t just shape lives, but saves lives.
Here at QMSU, NUS have given us the training, support and confidence to run and win campaigns like #FreezeOurFees. Their resources have been invaluable during campaigns like Zero Tolerance to Sexual Harassment and LGBT+ Inclusion in Sport. NUS’s research, training and expertise make our Union campaigns stronger and more effective.
Is the NUS perfect? Not by a long shot. There’s only one way that we can feed into the priorities of the NUS, and that is by remaining and creating change collaboratively. NUS are currently undergoing their largest and most comprehensive democracy review. We want YOU, Queen Mary students, to shape this review. Tell NUS what you want them to change. They are ready to listen, they’ve committed to reform, and this would be the worst time to leave.
They have been a key organisation fighting for our rights, regardless of who we are. They have and still are ahead of the curve when fighting for liberation. In this world where hate crime is on the rise, students have to stand together stronger than ever to fight for our rights. NUS’s support is invaluable and they create long-lasting change which has shaped the student experience and life for the better.
Please take time to vote in the referendum this week, and please vote yes to ensure we remain a part of the National Union of Students.
VOTE HERE: www.qmsu.org/referendums (Voting closes at 4pm on Friday 13th January)
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/YestoNUSQM
Image – QMSU