Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

A bright future for UBU but will NUS get it right?

by Lloyd on 11.07.08
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I’ve just come out of the University Council meeting where the Union presented it’s way forward for both services and finances.

It was I would say a success but it still has its dangers along in the process of greater collaboration for the Union and the University. I have always believed in reform I think that our Union need to be changed to reflect the students of the future, I believe that we need to fashion a new world.

But this is different from the NUS proposals for their internal reforms and this is why:

Five years ago an organisations which I had been one of the founding members of was going though many changes – as members we voted a no confidence is some of the leadership and the AGM had t be cancelled as it fell in to farce. The Trustee’s had asked the membership to approve the auditors, accounts and them without any prior documentation.

This was due just as much to neivaty as it was to democratic deficit, our organisation was only 3 years old and we where still finding our feet. That year we sent through some real hard reforms, things changed, they still are not perfect but the members became part of the governance, they controlled the organisation.

Meanwhile a year later the other national youth body (British Youth Council) was going under an equally difficult reform. Reform that was pushed through by the chair of the organisations. Now I have a lot of respect in what they did in re-forming the BYC, but there is a big problem. At first the measures where needed, the organisation had lost staff, moral and could even end up shut. Members spent their time arguing over petty issues rather than achieve change.

Neither situation was great, but as a member of both we felt like we had made a difference to the UKYP – we had set it up and would run it with our youth workers. At BYC the reforms where different they weren’t from a ground swell of people, its wasn’t a grass roots movement it was an academic exercise in “good governance”.

five years later and if you went to either board they would have the same “power” they are as undemocratic as each other (the UKYP got a little more democratic and the BYC a little less). but one was lead by the members and one wasn’t, its the direction that we must look at.

Its the same with NUS, a project developed in a office will always fail, a plan in board meetings will never succeed if its not brought to the members to bring them along. NUS governance needs changing, a “review” is needed, but it should sent NUS on a direction of opening up, becoming less centred on the head office and more on the students, instead we have something that cements power, decides policy by officers not members and sets the agenda on what will get people better jobs not members better lives.

Yes reform is needed but only when its done with the membership not without.

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Labour and Co-operative Member of
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