The Brighton University Students’ Union (BUSU) has voted to discontinue its affiliation with the National Union of Students (NUS) for the rest of the academic year.
The referendum took place during their Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday 15 May. The result means that the BUSU is now an independent entity.
The vote is being seen as a protest to both the BUSU and the NUS after their actions this year. A member of the group Brighton Against Cuts commented: “the motion had been put forward beforehand but never seriously discussed.
As is the nature of these AGM’s, the small attendance is generally not representative of the main student body.
“That said, there is a lot of genuine anger at the BUSU and the NUS.
“The BUSU haven’t supported our occupations this year (in protest against cuts) or helped with the rallies in Brighton.
“Bad feeling toward the NUS from students is well known across the country, not just here, especially concerning the November protest in London; it was this which basically resulted in this protest vote.
“We’re not sure if the motion will be passed again next year, there’s no organised plan for that yet.
“Personally, I’m not sure the result was a good thing but I by no means speak for everyone.”
Recently, NUS president Aaron Porter was put under pressure by students across the country for being seen as “passive” in relation to the fight against the Coalition government’s education cuts.
Additionally, the NUS is no longer being seen as the best way for students to represent themselves.
On the 9 December last year, the day the tuition fee bill was passed through parliament the one thousand people that attended the NUS candlelight vigil on Victoria embankment was blocked by 30,000 people from a coalition of anti-cuts groups that marched from the University of London Union to Parliament in Westminster.
When questioned upon what the NUS thought of the Brighton disaffiliation, President Aaron Porter provided a statement: “Under the rules of affiliation, members remain affiliated until 31 December – and so we will of course continue to fully support the students’ union and work closely with their officers in the usual way until this time.
Equally, I would very much hope that such an important decision as disaffiliation is opened up to the whole student body, and that all students are able to have their say through a referendum.” The BUSU did not respond when contacted in time for publication.
However, on the BUSU website, the union describe their policy: “You can also attend the Annual General Meeting (often called an AGM), where ordinary students can propose motions to make Union Policy. This policy, if passed then binds the actions of the Union and its officers.”
In accordance with the BUSU’s policy, it appears that that whilst the small attendance may well have skewed the results, the decision was entirely democratic.