The Yes campaign team at Lincoln. Photo credit: Bradley Allsop

The Yes campaign team at Lincoln. Photo credit: Bradley Allsop

 

University of Lincoln Students’ Union has become one of very few Students’ Union to rejoin NUS after having voted to leave it. The wording of the referendum was “Should the University of Lincoln Students’ Union be affiliated to the National Union of Students?”.  With a 13.6% turnout (a referendum would need more than 10% to be quorate and ‘binding’) the Yes camp achieved 1302 votes (10.02%), with No securing 437 votes (3.36%).

The first referendum on the unions continued affiliation to the National Union of Students was held last May and voted by a narrow margin for disaffiliating from NUS (804 for continued affiliation, 881 for disaffiliation). The vote followed a string of controversies surrounding the national union, such as claims of anti-semitism and the election of a controversial new president, Malia Bouattia.

However, numerous concerns began to emerge about how the referendum at Lincoln was handled, and this led to the decision by the Students’ Union to hold a second referendum after the summer. The reasons for this ranged from the initial referendum being held during exam time with only a short amount of notice, incoming first years due to start after the summer not having a say and the decision to disaffiliate being based on a very small margin.

The decision to stay technically isn’t a case of rejoining NUS, as the formal procedures to leave the national union take some time, a familiar situation post-Brexit. The change in opinion on the campus will, however, likely be seen by the NUS as a significant victory and will likely be used as a case study in other referendum campaigns across the country.

When delivering his victory speech on Friday, leader of the Yes campaign Connor Delany said:

We would like to start by thanking all of our campaigning team who worked tirelessly over the course of the referendum, to ensure that so many students were empowered to exercise their democratic right to decide that Lincoln should re-affiliate to NUS. We would also like to thank the No to NUS campaign for running a civil and thoughtful opposition. We would particular like to thank the NUS officers who came on campus to talk to our students: Richard Brooks, Melantha Chittenden, Carmen Smith, Robbiie Young, Fergal McFerran and Vonnie Sandlan.

Lincoln’s resounding decision to re-affiliate to NUS, with a massive 10% of students voting yes to NUS, has confirmed that a national collective movement by students and acting for students, is both in the interest of the student body of Lincoln and something they overwhelmingly have chosen to be part of. However, this vote must not be taken as support for the status quo. Lincoln students recognise that NUS needs to reform, and we are ready and willing to put Lincoln at the forefront of our student movement.”

The decision comes at a time when several other Students’ Unions are holding referendums of their own on whether they should stick with NUS. Whether more unions will decide to leave, or whether the few that have already done so change their minds remains to be seen, but for Lincoln at least the decision is seen as binding for the time being.

Bradley Allsop

About Bradley Allsop

Bradley is currently studying for his PhD in youth political engagement at the University of Lincoln and writes on democracy, political engagement and political psychology.