Rotten reform motion passes at NUS conference - begin the campaign for a fighting national students' union!
April 15, 2019
Socialist Students statement on NUS’ turnaround reform motion
Socialist Students campaigned and voted against the reform, highlighting that even if all the amendments submitted by SUs which would have slightly ameliorated the rotten reform were passed, this motion overall represented a huge cutting of democracy and attack on the ability of the NUS to lead the struggle for student rights.
These reforms push the NUS further away from being fit to channel and lead student struggles which are currently developing and also the potential mass movements on the horizon over fees, cuts, privatisation, housing, lack of student voice, etc.
The task of every delegate present at this conference now is to return to their campuses and campaign for the convening of emergency student meetings, either organised by SUs or by students and campaigners ourselves, dedicated to discussing the task of building the democratic and fighting national students’ union we need.
The question of a new national students’ union
Out of this could come an extraordinary national conference of all students and campaigners who need a fighting student organisation and are searching for how to build one. Such a conference could democratically discuss the way forward in the aftermath of this reform motion.
These meetings and conference, even if acted on by only a handful of Students’ Unions initially, could decide whether or not to continue the fight to save the NUS in its current form, or to begin to take the steps necessary to found a new national students’ union.
Which exact path events will take remains to be seen. Regardless, any such new national student organisation - either a completely re-founded NUS, a brand new national organisation, or a combination of both of these paths - will have to outright reject the undemocratic unaccountable corporate financial model of the NUS which has led it to the abyss.
The NUS currently has approximately 600 students unions affiliated to it, meaning the NUS nationally has an affiliated membership of around 7 million students. This could have been a potentially huge financial source mobilised to save the NUS.
But this financial potential could only have been realised on the basis of a political and fighting NUS leadership that could convince those students that it is an organisation committed to leading struggle to improve the lives of students - for free education, cancellation of the debt, for adequate housing and jobs, rights of all oppressed groups and so on. Instead, the leadership produced the Turnaround Reform aimed at further moving NUS away from being such an organisation.
Some in the discussion about the way forward have raised the lack of engagement of students alienated from the structures of the NUS as an obstacle to achieving this. But this is due to the failures of the NUS over a period of years to lead students in struggle. The recent youth climate strikes, the UCU student solidarity last year, and the youth surge around Corbyn’s anti-austerity programme including free education are all testament to the massive potential which exists, and the crucial necessity to build a national students union up to the task of leading students in struggle.
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