By Benjamin Leatham
University of York students have voted for YUSU to remain affiliated with the National Union of Students. I would like to thank every single student that voted and took the time to engage in this important debate.
The referendum has been delivered at a challenging time of year, amid exams and end of term commitments. I know that students have not taken their votes lightly. Turnout has been strong with 15.7% of students voting. To put that into context, the last time YUSU asked students to consider the question of our NUS affiliation in 2014, 7.6% of students (1259) turned out to vote.
These turnout levels are a real endorsement of the commitment, dedication and hard work that both the Yes and No campaigners have put into delivering engaging and dynamic campaigns, campaigns that have been underpinned by informed debate. Yet while they mark a positive result for the Yes campaign team, they do not mark the end of our discussion about NUS reform. This has been a constant theme through the referendum period and it is one on which we must remain focused on in the months ahead.
I am firmly of the belief that working together will bring more benefits for more students but we need to build on the conversation that we have started to ensure that the NUS is truly representing all students. This means articulating a clear vision for change and ensuring that all members of the student body have the opportunity to remain involved in this conversation.
On 17th May the NUS officer team published an open letter to students in which they pledged to: “...spend our year openly and honestly addressing the concerns that students have put to us… learning what you want from your national union and exploring how we can best achieve that.” We need to take them up on this offer and hold the NUS team to account for the commitments that they have made to listen and deliver a reforming agenda.
As the 2015/16 YUSU officer team prepare to handover to our incoming sabbatical officers we will be handing over a positive mandate for continuing the affiliation and considering the implications of the strong mandate for change that students at the University of York have backed.