I remember my confusion a few months before university when I applied for a NUS card to find out Southampton wasn’t on the list. Before I arrived, I assumed all universities were members. I heard a lot about why Southampton wasn’t affiliated in my first year, and how dramatic the referendum the year before I arrived was (one particular third year told me it tore families apart, he was probably being a little dramatic but you get the point).
I was only 8 at the time Southampton disaffiliated from the NUS in 2002, and too busy learning my eleven times tables and wondering if Paul would ever rejoin S Club to notice what was going on at my future university. In 2010 and 2012 the Union held referenda to reaffiliate, but the ‘no’ vote won both times by a significant majority (64% in 2010, and 73.4% in 2012).
I’ve never known any differently to being in the NUS (unless you count sixth form, but then all I thought it was good for was getting me 15% off in New Look). I’m pretty certain we’re not losing out on anything. In reality, the NUS is overly complicated and overly bureaucratic.
I don’t think the NUS are the devilish society they are often presented as, and sure, there are benefits of being part of a national student voice but joining wouldn’t make a difference to the average students’ day-to-day life.
The NUS has the potential achieve amazing things on a national level (preventing Prevent for example), but its just not a place that represents me. I, along with most of my peers are pretty happy with our independence. In my eyes, the NUS simply does not do enough to make me want to join. We’re stronger independently and not bound by the fascist no platforming rules. As an independent Union we can adopt their good policies, and ignore the ones we don’t like.
I’m glad that our union shop and can sell whatever it wants, at whatever price it likes. I’m glad that anyone can use Yik Yak, and our student media and debating societies can speak to anyone they like.
In the long run, Southampton is definitely better off out.
Bridie Pearson-Jones, Wessex Scene Editor and University of Southampton student