The issue of representing national UK students interests and anti-Semitism in the NUS was the topic of discussion at last night’s debate held by the Debating Union.
Most students will know the Union for introducing the 16-25 railcard which makes travelling home more affordable, and the NUS ‘Extra’ card which provides discounts on high-street shops.
Truthfal was at the debate night, holding a live poll on its Instagram platform to see how the publication’s readers fair in support of the NUS.
However, this discussion comes at a time when the president Shakira Martin has been accused of ‘bullying’ her colleagues in mainstream media.
Exeter students Daniel Appiah and Grace Turner, with Falmouth student Noah Thompson led this line of thought in the two hour debate.
Particularly interestingly, Appiah suggested that the changing nature of students today means the NUS can no longer reflect or serve their interests.
“Student life isn’t what it used to be but students are one of the most privileged groups in society. This kind of victimhood that students are down trodden and don’t have any power isn’t right”.
In 1950, 3.4% of young people went to University and since then it’s fluctuated between under and over half”.
He suggested that the increasing student numbers should cause an adaptation to current policy by the NUS, to serve more interests. The Union’s interests in apartheid and information packs on the process of forming protests have become outdated since social media has empowered young activists.
This reason of ‘democratisation’ means interests in Vietnam and other foreign conflicts do not pose any relevance.
“The NUS is a political play group for the amateur activists and even more amateur politicians”.
Similarly, Thompson held that there is an ‘overtly political’ interest in the NUS and this has attracted a minority group with ‘radical based views’. Structural issues in the Union encourage anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic characters to be ‘drawn into the spotlight’.
However, Harry Bishop, Community and Welfare President for Falmouth University, favoured the NUS along side fellow Societies President, Sarah Redman and Jed Scoles from Exeter University.
He told Truthfal how the Union has played a crucial role in politicising young people in time for the EU referendum.
Their government funded campaign Generation Vote saw nearly 500 young people vote on the last day of voting for the general election, according to Bishop.
“As a progressive organisation which has stood up for students in my opinion, fighting the Government to allow all students to be exempt from council tax is a massive win for all students”.
This students union has also appointed Europe’s first transgender officer, Jess Bradley.
Hear how Bishop will be heading to National Conference next week about these pressing issues in the full interview here.
You can also hear Thompson’s full criticism from the evening on Truthfal’s YouTube feed.