#BackJack for NUS Delegate
For the many of us, the NUS is an organisation that is distant from us as students, beyond the occasionally helpful NUS Extra card. Yet it so much more than this, for better or for worse. The NUS is the body that represents we as students on a national level, the body that the government and Universities UK turns to when it wants to consult a collective voice for students, the body that YUSU lobbies for a better campus.
But the NUS is far from perfect - in the last few years, it has been an organisation mired in scandal and controversy. It is an organisation that has elected a vicious antisemite as President in an election millions of students were disenfranchised from, it is an organisation that is dominated by unaccountable cliques and careerists furthering agendas irrelevant to the needs of students, it is an organisation that becomes more and more inaccessible to students of all backgrounds every passing conference.
It doesn’t matter if you like the NUS, despise it as an institution, don’t have a particularly strong view on it. What we all can agree on is that if YUSU is going to remain affiliated and send delegates to NUS Conference, then it must be an organisation stands up and works for York students, along with students across the country. This is what I will fight for. At the end of the day, I want to win victories for York students, not get bogged down in the stagnating, pointless and embarrassing infighting that only humiliates us as students and prevents the NUS from bringing students’ concerns, including those of York, to the national table.
In 1974, the NUS secured the discounted railcard for students. In 1992, the NUS won the all-important council tax exemption for student accommodation on campus and off, saving students potentially thousands of pounds a year. In 2007, the NUS won vital protections for student deposits, ensuring that they would not illegally withheld at the end of a tenancy. Since then, the NUS has been unable to victories of that magnitude, because it is destroying the credibility it holds and distracting itself with infighting.
The NUS must change - and by backing me, you will be electing a fighter who will not relent in making the NUS stand up for students, instead of embarrassing them.
#BackJack for an:
An Active NUS
Year-by-year housing costs in terms of rent is making our wallets lighter. The NUS must campaign for government action to ensure rents and utilities are affordable.
Campus accomodation in university is often subpar, with my particular accomodation having one washing machine between us all and with a majority of tenants being student nurses, who need to wash their uniforms after every placement. The NUS must lobby for the enactment of better quality student accommodation that matches up with the rents we pay.
For years, wider society has been ignoring the growing the mental health crisis and the NUS' stagnation has prevented it from being an effective voice on this. The NUS must campaign to ensure that the NHS, universities and student unions are better able to provide the all-important support needed for students, whether individually or in collaboration with each other. 6 month waiting lists to receive assistance must become a thing of the past.
Unofficial freshers events by companies with no affiliation to YUSU are a stain on student life, scamming students’ time and money. These predatory companies seek to take advantage of students adapting to a new and exciting environment whilst providing nothing in return. Freshers should be a fun time and these people only seek to ruin it. The NUS must lobby for tighter protections to ensure unofficial companies can no longer harass students free from the restraint of the law and for those who are taken advantage of to have full refunds.
Student media is an all-important aspect of student life, providing accountability against student unions and universities. The NUS must campaign to ensure student media receives the support it needs from student unions to sustain itself and for student journalists to be able to operate without fear of harassment, censorship or suppression of free speech.
An Accountable NUS
The NUS must fully and comprehensively implement OSOV (One Student One Vote) with immediate effect. Undemocratic elections have resulted in antisemites, powermongers and careerists being elected with little concern for the wider student body. Students must have a say on who represents them at a national level, not a conference of a few hundred people.
The NUS must be held to account by students on campuses, not just in conferences - FTOs and NUS staff must be required to attend universities to hold a surgery and Question Time session so that we can hold them to account.
As a NUS Delegate, I want to make sure I am putting students first. I will ensure consultations are conducted and sent to the student body to ensure I am representing you at conference and will lobby to ensure that myself and other NUS Delegate hold open surgeries for people to attend.
An Accessible NUS
No more Antisemitism. No more Islamophobia. No more racism. This is the NUS I want to see from 2018 hereon. I will not relent until these vile forms of hatred are driven from the NUS and have a record of fighting for this, whether this be in pushing for London Young Labour to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for antisemitism, working with Muslim activists against Islamophobia back in London and being myself involved in anti-racism activities as a mixed race Latino. I will not vote for any NUS candidates at conference with a record for any of these and will support any motions that strengthen the fight to eradicate this discrimination.
Student unions pay an affiliation fee to the NUS, which is detrimental to YUSU being able to spend to activities, events and welfare for York students and a barrier to other student unions wanting to join the NUS or maintain their membership. The NUS must move away from a affiliation fee based model and analyse potential replacements for it.
Bullying at conference and other events stifle progress within the NUS and make it highly unaccessible. Whilst OSOV will make things like voter intimidation a thing of the past by transferring power from arm-twisting vote fixers to student, the NUS needs to move to drive out the bullies from the student movement and strengthen sanctions against them.
Accessibility within YUSU and student unions across the country needs to improve. The NUS must review what they’re doing now to widen accessibility in student unions and push through changes promoted by the liberation campaigns to ensure student unions are accessible.
Conferences have notably been inaccessible for people from marginalised backgrounds. NUS is often inaccessible for those from a disabled background with insufficient accessibility breaks and a lack of awareness on disabilities, whilst biphobia, homophobia, transphobia and a fear of outing place invisible barriers on LGBT delegates. Conference needs to be more accessible and I will do my best as a cisgendered heterosexual male ally by supporting any motions that people in the relevant liberation groups push for.
Whatever you think of the NUS, whatever your political views, whatever your background, I am fighting a campaign that ensures that all York students will be represented instead of inactive, unaccessible and unaccountable NUS cliques. I will not be beholden to the interests of any NUS clique - I will only be a representative for York students. A vote to #BackJack is a vote for a better, more relevant NUS - an Active NUS, an Accountable NUS, an Accessible NUS.