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by Kallum Pearmain
LSE students will be asked whether they want to remain in the National Union of Students (NUS), after the Presidents of two leading political societies submitted a motion to the Union’s Democracy Committee outlining a referendum on disaffiliation.
Josh Hitchens, the chair of LSESU Conservatives, and Hari Prabu, the chair of LSESU Liberal Democrats, are set to argue that the NUS is unrepresentative, undemocratic and expensive for LSE students, noting that whilst the LSE Students’ Union paid almost £35 000 in membership fees in 2013-14, its two representatives to the organisation were only able to vote on around 50 per cent of NUS business.
The referendum motion, which has been seen by the Beaver, argues that the “vast majority of the seven million students represented by the NUS have minimal awareness of, let alone affinity to, the organisation and its work”, adding that it prioritises political campaigns on issues like far-right politics and the Arab-Israeli conflict which have little direct relevance to students.
The proposers of the motion suggest that the money that would be saved by disaffiliation should form a ringfenced gift from the Students’ Union to the LSE, to be spent exclusively on helping disabled LSE students with the cost of living. This is likely to become a key talking point in the referendum.
Nona Buckley-Irvine, General Secretary of the LSESU said that “LSESU was one of the founding members of the NUS. We needed it back then, and we still need it now. While this motion claims that the NUS isn’t working, the recent U-turn by the government on cuts to Disability Support Allowance follows a high profile campaign by the NUS which was a clear success”.
The referendum is slated to take place during week four of Michaelmas term, between 29th and 30th October. If successful, LSE would join a relatively small group of students’ unions to be unaffiliated to the NUS, including St Andrew’s, Southampton and Imperial College.