Is the NUS doing too much talking on our behalf?

The primary objective of a union is to represent the views of its members. But what happens when the union tries to speak about subjects that are so divisive in opinion that they cannot possible present a fair representation of all of its members? 

This question seems to be lost on our NUS as it has, in the past year, taken a stand point on many issues of a political nature that may not be representative of all of its members. Let’s just take a brief look at some of the positions that our NUS has taken in the past few years in regards to politics:
  • Its Boycott of Israel: Now the conflict that we saw in Gaza over the summer was indeed an emotive issue, and a human tragedy, but that should not be the chance for political point scoring. This was a motion that would alienate Jewish and Israeli students and effectively tell them that they are not welcome, as well as anyone who supported Israel in the conflict. 
  • Its Support of Press Censorship: Je Suis Charlie. The three words we were all only too keen to tweet only two months ago. Yet this principle of free speech seems completely lost on the leadership of the NUS when they supported proposals for the Sun’s ‘Page 3’ to be banned.
  • Its opposition to UKIP: They may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but their members have a right to be heard and represented on Campus’ without the fear of being shouted down. We’ve seen several cases of this from Nottingham, to Derby, to Sussex Universities, all banned admittedly from the universities respective unions, but all support by the NUS
  • Its failure to oppose ISIS: Here we have an organisation that is entirely anti-freedom and anti all our values that we hold dear, and our NUS failed to condemn it. But of course it took no time at all in condemning Britain’s biggest political representation in Europe. 
I could go on but you’d be reading for some time, but the point is, whether or not you agree with any of these views is irrelevant (as a UKIP member I feel particularly alienated) it’s that our NUS should not be using their platform to promote their own views as a representation of how all students feel.
This is not to say that the members of the NUS should not hold these views or be free to express them on social media. But this should be done as individuals not as representatives of the NUS and not held up as “We the Students think…” This is of particular importance bearing in mind we are 71 days away from a General election.

A moment of praise of the NUS on my part, I was delighted to see them campaigning for students to register for their vote, I think it is a good thing to try and get the 18-24 year old vote reengaged in the political sphere. But I come back to my main point; they should not be telling people who to vote for. Especially given that much of the leadership of the NUS, including the president Toni Pearce, are members of the Labour party.

All I ask is that our NUS not speak out on political issues that do not immediately affect students. It is not their place to say that on such divisive issues that they represent the sovereign will of all of their members.  

By: Ross Bryant, History Student at Winchester
Is the NUS doing too much talking on our behalf? Is the NUS doing too much talking on our behalf? Reviewed by Admin on 20:06 Rating: 5

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