Editorial: Lent Week Four

James Burton 8 February 2010

So the voting season is upon us at last. And it’s already generating controversy.

Tom Chigbo’s use of CUSU office time to campaign on behalf of the ‘Yes’ vote for NUS disaffiliation has raised a few eyebrows amongst the movers and shakers in the student union community, and – as you’ve no doubt seen from our front page – been the subject of a complaint.

Nevertheless, putting that aside for a moment, it’s hard to see the ‘No’ campaign winning. The fact is, most students are unlikely to have strong views either way, and under those circumstances cutting all ties with the NUS can seem like a rather radical step to take.

There are good reasons to vote ‘No’, and these have been ardently expressed by Grayden Webb et al: the NUS is not particularly democratic, and its elected members do at times seem to see it as little more than a route into the Labour party.

Having said that, the ‘Yes’ lot have some pretty cogent arguments of their own. Cambridge cannot operate in isolation, they claim. The NUS is a voice for all students, the voice the government listens to, and losing touch with that would leave us in a vacuum.

Whatever your personal opinion, the most important thing is to vote. Chris Lillycrop’s comments on the Education Not for Sale mailing list draw attention to the fact that if the turnout is less than 2,000, the decision on affiliation will simply be batted back to CUSU Council.

Whether you vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, it is vital to get out and be heard. The decision on affiliation is simply too important to be left in the hands of JCR Presidents and external officers alone.

James Burton