We’ve been critical of the direction NUS is taking for a number of years. We’re concerned that the organisation has become more interested in internal debate than real issues facing students, more interested in infighting than fighting the government and more interested in grandstanding than standing up for students.
Despite all of that NUS represents our Labour values of collectivism and unionism. NUS won council tax exemption for students, won a living wage for thousands of University staff and shifted the conversation around sexual harassment with ‘Zero Tolerance’. Together we are stronger and NUS gives us the power to fight and win. The challenges facing students up and down the country are too great for individual students' unions to deal with alone and we need a national movement that unites to combat them.
For the election of National President, we supported Megan Dunn. We felt she was the candidate who would continue moving NUS in the right direction. The concerns raised by Jewish students about Malia Bouattia cannot be dismissed; properly addressing these would go a long way to re-uniting our movement. Nevertheless, the election of one national officer doesn't change the power of NUS and it doesn't change the fact that students are better off because of NUS.
The answer to concerns should be to debate, not to divide or withdraw. A weakened NUS weakens the student movement, and is exactly what this government wants to see.
Debate is always important but Islamophobia is never acceptable and we condemn any criticism of Malia that uses Islamophobic language. We may not always agree with Malia but we congratulate her and celebrate the progress shown by the election of the first Black Muslim woman President of NUS.
The fight for an NUS that puts the interests of students and Students’ Unions back at its heart isn’t over which is why now isn’t the time to turn and run. Labour Students will wholeheartedly be campaigning for SU’s to remain in NUS as the only vehicle for advancing students interests, challenging this government and building a truly transformative national movement.
The Labour Students NUS Group