An all-student referendum will be held in 4th week of Trinity regarding OUSU’s affiliation with the National Union of Students (NUS). The referendum will ask voters the following question: “OUSU is currently affiliated to the National Union of Students (NUS). Should it continue to be affiliated: yes or no?”
Nominations to lead the campaign for either side will open on Sunday 27th April at 12pm (first week) with elections for these campaign meetings to be held the following day.
OUSU’s Returning Officer, Alexander Walker, issued a directive on the OUSU website earlier this month concerning the referendum. While all student members of OUSU can go to the briefing meetings to vote, only those who wish to support the ‘Yes’ campaign may go to the ‘Yes’ briefing, and only those who wish to support the ‘No’ campaign may go to the ‘No’ briefing.
Only the Returning Officer and his deputies may attend both meetings. Both will take place at the OUSU building, with the ‘Yes’ meeting happening at 10am and the ‘No’ meeting at midday.
Tom Rutland, the current OUSU President, plans to run to lead the ‘Yes’ campaign. It is not yet known who intends to run to lead the ‘No’ campaign.
“Oxford students benefit greatly by being part of NUS,” Rutland commented. “Affiliation allows us to influence NUS policy, ensure that we have a national union fighting for students’ interests and take advantage of the incredible array of discounts the NUS Extra Card provides.
“Disaffiliating from NUS would cost Oxford students money, it would isolate us from the national student movement, and it would weaken both unions”.
The NUS are currently producing a tailor-made report on the private letting industry and the state of student housing in Oxford in an attempt to help OUSU target accommodation problems experienced by Oxford students.
Student campaigner Nathan Akehurst told Cherwell, “NUS has a range of problems with democracy and careerism. It is not a visible presence in OUSU students’ lives beyond the Extra card. However, NUS does do a huge amount of important work, lobbying and campaigning on a national level in a way OUSU couldn’t. It would be foolish and irresponsible to give up our place in the national student movement.”
Not all universities are affiliated with NUS, however, as Jack J. Matthews points out. He thinks it does no harm to the perceptions of potential students, commenting, “Southampton and Imperial continue to be top destinations for students despite being independent from NUS.”
Akehurst disagreed. “Given the amount of bad press Oxford gets, and with the disaffiliation charge led by the political right, NUS disaffiliation would create potentially inaccurate stories about perceived Oxbridge arrogance.”
All students registered within the university will be able to vote, regardless of their college’s own affiliation with OUSU.