Voting opens for Durham’s NUS delegates


Voting for Durham’s new NUS delegates is now open.

Voting opened at 8am on Tuesday, giving Durham Students the opportunity to vote for the delegates that will attend this year’s NUS conference, which will be held on 8th-11th April 2019, in Glasgow.

Due to an increase in student numbers, Durham Students Union will send six delegates to conference, as opposed to five last year.

SU president automatically holds an ex-officio place as one of Durham’s six delegates, so 5 delegates will be elected from the 11 running candidates.

Candidates running this year are Erin Waks, Flower Lijie Dong, Tom Chapman, Matt Bonini, -Audini, Caragh Aylett, Kate McIntosh, Amelia McLoughlan, Tom Pymer, Elysia Wright and Eleanor Harriet-Ferguson.

The job of NUS delegates is to discuss and subsequently vote on motions which will then become NUS policy if passed.

The chosen delegates will also vote for the National President of NUS, as well as 5 Vice Presidents and the 15 Block members of the National Executive Council as well as reviewing the work NUS has done throughout the year.

Due to the quota system implanted at NUS Conference in 2014, all delegations to National Conference would be made up of ‘at least 50% self-defining women, rounded down’.

As Durham will be sending six delegates to conference, this means that three out of the five elected candidates must be self-defining women.

At a question and answer hosted on Monday evening attended by around 15 students, questions were put to the nine candidates that attended.

Saul Cahill put to candidates what they believed the NUS line towards two-year degree courses should be.

Seven of the nine candidates vehemently opposed the prospect of Durham offering two-year degree courses.

Candidate Amelia McLoughlan, president of Durham Students with Disabilities Association, stated: “I personally think it’s a terrible idea. Before they do any educational reform, they need to sort out things like counselling”.

Tom Chapman, a second year at St Aidan’s College told voters that two-year degree courses are merely a “Symptom of a higher level of marketization of education” and that a “degree needs to be more than just a piece of paper”.

However, candidates Flower Lijie Dong and Matt Bonini stated that two-year degrees should be an option for students.

When candidates were asked whether they supported NUS campaigns to encourage universities to become living wage employers, the nine students unanimously expressed their backing.

Candidate Amelia McLoughlan stated, “I would absolutely support this on a national level”, while -Audini answered that the NUS “should do a deep investigation into employment practices that various universities run.”

Helen Paton, one of last year’s chosen conference delegates told Palatinate that she has her reservations about the efficacy of the NUS as an organisation,

“Being a delegate was a very humbling experience as I got to work with many societies and met students from all across Durham to represent them better.

“The NUS is a very poor and unrepresentative organisation that is still very far from students’ reality, however, I did my best to communicate and inform students about what was going on.

“Passing a motion at conference on actual action for mental health supply was a highlight, but I worry they won’t deliver on it with their current state of bankruptcy. I think we should be concerned about the running of the union and I encourage delegates to achieve that transparency we need.”

“As elections are live, I look back and I remember how toxic cross-campus elections can be at times especially for our mental health. This year there are a variety of candidates from different areas of involvement. It should be a great election and I hope there is respect above all.”


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