By: Toby Gould, Editor
The National Union of Students has just elected Malia Bouattia as their new president. This is a woman who rejected a motion condemning Islamic State and described Birmingham University as “something of a Zionist outpost”. She has denied being anti-Semitic, and yet she’s warned of “mainstream Zionist-led media outlets” and supported a group which held a re-enactment of an Israeli checkpoint outside of the University of Birmingham’s library. Can such a divisive figure claim to represent all students? No, of course not. The NUS is continuing its degeneration into a hard-line, authoritarian socialist pressure group which is as out of touch with the views and needs of young people as it could ever be.
As if it weren’t bad enough that Bouattia is the new president, the NUS managed to pass some unbelievably ridiculous motions – even by their standard. For example, they passed a motion entitled ‘Safe, Social Elections’ which aims to put restrictions on social media apps (such as Facebook, Twitter and Yik Yak) during elections. In short, the NUS doesn’t believe in free speech and is going out of its way to prevent it. And this is very far out of its way. The NUS doesn’t have the power to place restrictions on apps – of course it doesn’t- but their far-from-liberal attitude to censorship is comparable to the Chinese Communist Party, and the ramifications this could have for free speech on university campuses is worrying. But more importantly the NUS cannot even pretend to represent the views of students when it’s trying to censor them.
Can the NUS get any more unbelievable? Of course it can – for example when some student delegates argued against the official commemoration of the holocaust. They spoke against an amendment to a motion which said the NUS should coordinate events on Holocaust Memorial Day and that education on it is “vital”. Is this really representing the views of students? Sir Eric Pickles summed it up well on Twitter, by saying “there are some within the NUS that allow Antisemitism flourish within their organisation”. The NUS is a joke; unfortunately it’s a joke which spends lots of our money while pretending it’s doing what it does for us.
But the conference raises bigger questions about what the NUS should be doing. It shouldn’t be coming to political positions on things like government policy unless there is a real consensus among all students. For example they shouldn’t be wasting our money (or their time) rejecting motions which condemn ISIS (as shocking as that is) because it’s not a student issue. If I wanted a group to represent my political views I would join a political party or a pressure group. The NUS should be lobbying the government on things that directly affect me as a student, not silencing us with censorship policies, failing to condemn terrorists or questioning whether we should commemorate the Holocaust.
The NUS is a disgrace to students Reviewed by Student Voices on 17:36 Rating: