The leadership of the NUS, backed by the majority of the NEC (National Executive Committee) is aiming to put forward a motion which could potentially break down the NUS’ democratic structures.
An emergency conference is being held in order to radically change the NUS’ constitution but as it has only been called with three weeks notice there has been no time to elect representatives. This last minute vote has called for over twenty five student unions to discuss and seal the changes being made.
This extraordinary conference (as it is known) is scheduled to take place on the 12th of November 2008 at Wolverhampton civic hall, in three week’s time.
The short notice means that there will be no time to hold a cross campus ballet for delegates instead the union council will have to decide, a situation that could mean the majority of students aren’t properly represented. It also means there isn’t time to organise debates or discussions about the conference. This has lead some to conclude that the conference is being forced through as quickly as possible in order to secure the unpopular reconstructions.
The Sussex Student Union are displeased at the short notice of the conference and disagree with the way it is being orchestrated.
Laura Tazzioli, President of USSU said: “We are very unhappy about this, the conference has been held at such short notice and we are unable to go through are usual process of selecting delegates.”
The NUS reform process was launched last year but the scheme failed at the annual conference as it missed the two thirds majority needed to pass. This year it is back with a revised motion in order to combat the failings of the last year and the NUS is determined that it be successful.
The changes proposed will alter the power structure of the NUS. Full-time officers and the biggest student unions will be able to dominate votes and overrule the decision-making capacities of any committee. It has been described by students at last years annual conference as “an ideological struggle which goes against the spirit of NUS destroying its soul.”
Rob Owen, the NUS National Executive said: “Whatever your personal politics, this is a direct attack on the thousands of students engaged in campaigns and activism on campuses. It is an attempt to freeze us out of national policy making and to clamp down on grass roots campaigns becoming central to our national union. We must unite to stop them again.”
The NUS was developed in the 1960s’ from a powerful student movement and still has the opportunity to conduct similar movements again. Some say that this will not be the case if the NEC change the constitution of the NUS in order to make it less democratic and, allegedly, more difficult for the student voice to be heard.
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