Students, do you know about the NUS?

The National Union of Students, the organisation that represents each and every one of us in that terrifying non-university world, rolled into town on Tuesday for their 2012 national conference. The three day conference is a big deal for the NUS – not only will it be bringing in a tidy one million for the Sheffield economy, but great student minds from all over the country will be debating important issues and electing a new leader to fight for the cause.
This, obviously, all sounds lovely. Our only problem is that most students – or, at least those who aren’t Union officers, committee reps, or nerdy Forge Press editors – have no idea that this conference is even taking place.

Your new president- you knew that, right?

Cynicism in student politics has reached a new high on the back of failed campaigns, protests hijacked by political groups and the ever crushing, £9,000 reminder that access to higher education is set to shrink.
You might think that in these circumstances, the NUS would be desperate to reach out to the masses – but those few brave enough to link into to the conference livestream are only treated with a mindboggling string of jargon. The most interesting part of the conference, the presidential candidate hustings, was not even streamed.
Instead, viewers are treated to scenes of delegates voting on passing a motion on whether to vote on a motion – with each motion given its own cryptic code name that can only be deciphered with the relevant paper work. This paperwork, of course, is only available to delegates at the conference – and can only be understood by those with a degree in Bureaucrat. Accessible, it is not.

If students cannot engage with politics at this grassroots level, where lays the hope that they will grow to become interested in national politics- having already become disenchanted by the betrayal of the Lib Dems?

Of course, the NUS do need a certain amount of rules and protocols – but behind the masses of paper work, just how vital is this conference? Nobody is complaining about the work of delegates in battling discrimination or improving access to higher education – but how many of these hundreds of motions are truly needed?
One hot topic of debate at NUS conference, for example, has been whether Union Officers should all have Second Life profiles. Social media might be a wonderful thing – but do we really need orders from on high decreeing officers to spend more time on their computers instead of prioritise what work they think important – for the union they know, love and are paid to represent?

Well, you cry, if nothing else, at least the NUS is a cornerstone of student democracy!
Unfortunately not. Your new and returning president, Liam Burns, was voted in by delegates yesterday morning – given the mandate to represent a few million students with a few hundred votes. Welcome to Sheffield, NUS – to be honest, we’re not quite sure what you’re doing.


5 Responses to “Students, do you know about the NUS?”

  1. John Sams

    I think you’ll find the order paper and final policy proposals document are all on the website too, accessible to all who visit the website where the stream is.

    What does forge ever do to promote NUS though, every you you post these derisory pieces, ahh no one knows what NUS do, ahh look he got elected with 400 votes. But you never devote a page to the pros of NUS. Try that one time and maybe that will get the masses more engaged!

    • David Jeffery

      Ha! What a ridiculous idea. Everyone knows who the NUS are, they just don’t know anything about (apart from the discount cards). The NUS is quite possibly the least democratic union in the country, considering thousands of students are forced to join without a say. It’s nothing more than a platform for wannabe Labour politicians who think that a two year stint contributes to fighting the good fight, after which they deserve to be awarded a safe seat and not have to bother talking to the people again.

  2. Ian Jones

    Did you ever consider that a newspaper isn’t a platform for publicity but rather a way to report the news. Promoting the NUS is the press offices job.

  3. Harry Cripps

    And this “story” looks like news to you does it?

    It reads more like en extended fb status having a little rant at NUS.

  4. Martin Bottomley

    Harry, this piece is clearly labelled “comment”. It’s not news, but comment and analysis, and as such is encouraged to offer a personal view on the subject.

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