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6th March 2023

SU launches NUS referendum as part of LeadMCR

The Manchester Students’ Union is set to hold a referendum on whether or not they stay affiliated with the NUS, after its recent allegations of anti-semitism and Islamophobia
SU launches NUS referendum as part of LeadMCR
Photo: Shikhar Talwar@ The Mancunion

With the National Union of Students (NUS) in the middle of several controversies, ranging from a report on institutional anti-Semitism to accusations of Islamophobia, a referendum has been submitted to University of Manchester students to vote on a: “Should Manchester Students’ Union remain a member of the National Union of Students (NUS)?”

Four Manchester student organisations, MCR Leftist Action; UoM Friends of Palestine; UoM Islamic Society; and Jewish Students’ Kehillah released a statement urging students to vote “No” to the NUS.

Their reasons are that the NUS has cracked down on left-wing organisations, ignored calls to investigate Islamaphobia, become increasingly undemocratic as it is harder now to include any reforms.

They also claim that the NUS takes credit for students’ movements that aren’t associated with them, and that claims are received with hostility when asking for reform.

However, the current Manchester Students’ Union Executive team has arrived at a majority decision on staying with the NUS.

Union Affairs Officer, Sam Bronheim, has started a campaign to “vote Yes to NUS”.

Sam said that “staying affiliated to the NUS is our only hope of changing it and keeping our national voice… We (Manchester Students) are so politically engaged, and we need to keep that momentum going at a national level in order to change the national landscape and we can’t do that without the NUS”.

The NUS is a membership-based Union; every Students’ Union across the country can opt into becoming a part of it, and through it converse with Students’ Unions across the country.

Given that the Manchester Students’ Union is affiliated with the NUS, all students at the University of Manchester are also a part of the NUS.

In January 2023, a report was released after the NUS commissioned an independent solicitor, concluding that the NUS was “hostile” to Jewish people on University campuses.

The report said that the Israel-Palestine conflict had acted as a catalyst in growing anti-Semitism on university campuses. Jewish students said that they were assumed to be Zionist, and had to be answerable to Israel’s apartheid.

As a result of this, the NUS released a five-point action plan to correct the faults that had been shown by the report.

However, as a result of this report, students accused of Islamophobia grew on campus and there was an increase in pro-Palestine sentiment.

Students then asked the NUS to commission another investigation into Islamophobia on campus.

However, since these demands had been rejected, a referendum to continue being a member of the NUS had been put up.

Sam added on why she thinks that students should vote Yes to the NUS. She stated, “I think what we’re seeing is that conservatives and conservative students feel very much like they want to disaffiliate … our conservative government feels very strongly about not having unions and not having student [sic] voice. So I think we’d really be doing the Tory government a favour if we disaffiliated”.

She added that everyone on the left is firmly standing against racism, but there are two sides to that still.

These include people who want to leave the NUS and those who want to stay. However, she believes that there’s more work that can be done from the inside of NUS, rather than leaving it.

Shikhar Talwar

Shikhar Talwar

Hello! I am the MMG News Producer. My job is to ensure collaboration between all 3 wings of MMG, namely Mancunion, Fuse TV and Fuse FM. I also write for the news section at the Mancunion, with topics ranging from elections to protests.

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