Saturday, November 03, 2007

Oppose calls for an extraordinary conference

This post is a little on the late side, but must be said anyway.

At last academic year's National Union of Students conference in April, a motion was passed calling for a review of the governance of NUS. The proposed changes are now available. To actually implement the changes, two conferences need to be held, and the document needs to receive a two-thirds majority vote in favour at each one. The NUS leadership realise that many of the suggested changes are quite controversial, so have decided to hold an "extraordinary conference" to try and rush through the changes.

It is rather hypocritical for the NUS leadership to claim that the suggested changes in the governance of NUS increase democracy while at the same time sabotaging democracy by hosting a whole-day event on a Tuesday just a couple of weeks before the begin of the holiday season (a period notorious for coursework deadlines). Because it's an "extraordinary" conference, there is also no requirement that delegates to the conference are democratically elected - they can be appointed by whoever has that responsibility. Furthermore, there are many students' unions across the country which simply cannot afford to pay for their delegates to travel to Blackpool. These student unions will be completely unrepresented (and I suspect will be disproportionately from further education colleges).

How the NUS leadership expect there to be a representative view of student political opinion at the extraordinary conference when so many barriers are put in the way of ordinary students attending is quite beyond me. Oppose the extraordinary conference, make sure your union holds a cross-campus ballot if it can, and make sure your delegates challenge the leadership to explain their anti-democratic methodology.

More about the actual governance review soon.

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