There will be a referendum on Oxford’s affiliation to the NUS this term following the passing of a motion at OUSU Council at evening.
After nearly three hours, the motion passed by secret ballot with 67 members voting in favour of the motion, 56 opposing and three abstaining. The referendum will happen before the end of sixth week.
After being moved to the top of the agenda for the meeting, the motion was hotly contested, undergoing multiple amendments and changes before the final vote was conducted.
“I think we should have enough respect for the student body to have them make the decision themselves,” said David Klemperer, a member of the Oh Well, Alright Then slate that proposed and backed the motion.
Issues of funding dominated the early debate, with many questioning how the campaigns would be funded. Many, including elected Sabbatical officer Eden Bailey, called into question the ability of liberation movements to adequately campaign for NUS membership in the short time frame and with the limited resources available. They were especially concerned that those who needed the NUS the most were those with the least time to campaign.
Klemperer brushed off these concerns, saying, “The amount of time between now and 6th week is enough that we can easily have a referendum.”
At one point Klemperer was called a liar as a consequence of some of the notes included in the motion he brought to Council. Particular concern was expressed at the points made about the motions discussed to monitor bullying on anonymous social messaging at the NUS Conference in Brighton last week. This part of the motion was later removed as were parts concerning NUS President-elect Malia Bouattia’s past comments.
The first speaker in opposition to the referendum called it a “political vendetta against the NUS president-elect and the NUS itself” from the members of Oh Well, Alright Then, while calling to question issues of distraction for those who have exams at the end of the term and a lack of time to campaign.
The debate often veered away from whether to have a referendum on to the relative merits of the NUS itself, which members of the Council were quick to point out in an attempt to steer the debate back on course.
OUSU President Becky Howe said she was proud members of the Council had fought for the liberation campaigns, but would obviously put her all behind the Council’s decision.
After nearly three hours, the motion passed via secret ballot with 67 voting in favour of a referendum, 56 voting against and three abstaining.