By Harry Cross
Last month, I attended NUS Conference as a delegate of Durham University. Like many, I’d heard rumours that NUS was a vicious cockpit of far-left political infighting and admit I was nervous.
The reality was very different. I was deeply impressed by the level of intelligent debate about issues that affect students, such as national education policy, mental health provisions in Universities and support for sports teams.
I learnt about how the NUS has won major victories for students over the years such as Council Tax Exemption, Student Rail Cards and free Wednesday afternoons across UK Universities.
More recently, NUS Officers have succeeded in removing age requirements on postgraduate loans and increased by £25,000 the amount charged to rogue landlords who cheat students – both gains made in the last year.
As for the benefits NUS brings here in Durham, many of the resources for alcohol safety and mental health awareness campaigns come from NUS, as does invaluable training and support for our LGBTA and Students With Disabilities Associations, without which either group would struggle to function at the same level.
The sale of NUSExtra cards means the DSU makes a net gain from NUS membership whilst bringing discounts and savings to cardholders.
Not forgetting, we pay less for our pints in the NUS, whose provider allows us to purchase alcohol and soft drinks at knock-down rates keeping college bars alive.
I will be voting NO to NUS Disaffiliation in the Durham University referendum, held on the DSU website from 7-10 June.
Too much of the debate on NUS in national tabloids focuses on isolated incidents, taken out of context and misreported to spread a stereotypical and false image of our National Union.
As a national organisation, it can be hard for the NUS to make the hard work it does year-round visible to individual students. That’s why those of us who support NUS have a responsibility to explain its benefits to students here in Durham.
Please contact the ‘Durham says YES to NUS – NO to disaffiliation’ campaign on Facebook to find out more and attend the DSU’s Q&A session with both campaigns on Monday at 19:30. And remember, from 7-10 June vote YES to NUS – NO to disaffiliation!
Illustration: Olivia Howcroft