The current culture of distancing oneself, disassociating and disaffiliating from anything that is even perceived to be bad is a worrying trend of late; a knee-jerk reaction without thorough objective thought and a balanced view of pros and cons is dangerous and often does more harm than good.
We’ve got the EU referendum around the corner and the NUS referendum scheduled for a year away. I’ve already written for Nouse on why we shouldn’t rush the referendum. But given the amount of voices being given the platform to criticise the NUS I felt compelled to write a piece, on the same platform the others have taken advantage of (except I might not make it into print), on the benefits that the NUS provides – y’know, for balanced debate ‘n’ all.
I am not ‘Pro-NUS’, I’m a sceptic with a fair share of concerns. But the burden lies with #TeamYexit to successfully argue the case that the criticisms outweigh all the benefits the NUS provides – and I am yet to be convinced. We cannot disregard everything we have gained from the NUS, everything we do gain from it and all the potential benefits we could have as a result of being part of it.
So, in order to further open up the debate and try to balance the concerns with just a handful of benefits, with thanks to Monty Python for inspiration, here’s how I imagined a dialogue might play out:
#TeamYexit (#TY): ‘WHAT has the NUS ever done for us?!’
Me: ‘The NUS Extra Card’
Students: ‘Oh yeah, yeah they got us discounts. That’s true.’
Me: ‘And a national platform for campaigns!’
Students: ‘Yeah a national platform for campaigning – remember what campaigning for students rights used to be like?’
#TY: ‘All right, I’ll grant you they save us money and give us a national voice as two things that the NUS have done for us…’
Me: ‘Officer training’
#TY: ‘Well yes obviously the training… the training goes without saying. But apart from the discounts, the national voice and the training…’
Me: ‘Networking opportunities and the ability to share ideas and best practice… support and empowerment of liberation groups… minimising students’ impact on the environment with programmes like Green Impact, Student Switch Off and Student Eats…’
#TY: ‘Yes… all right, fair enough…’
Me: ‘Cheaper drink prices’
Students: ‘Oh yes! True! Yeah. That’s something we’d really miss if we left the NUS.’
Me: ‘Thorough reports and information…and they passed a massive motion into prioritising student’s mental health this year’
Students: ‘Yes, they certainly know how to consider what’s affecting students… let’s face it, they’re the only ones who could achieve wide-scale change on an issue like this.’
#TY: ‘All right… all right… but apart from discounts, a national voice, training, networking opportunities, sharing of ideas and best practice, the support and empowerment of liberation groups, minimising students’ impact on the environment, cheaper drink prices, reports, information and passing lots of motions each year to improve the lives and experience of students such as by prioritising mental health… WHAT have the NUS EVER done for us?!’
Me: ‘fought the government to protect students’ interests?’
#TY: ‘SHUT UP!’