Exeposé News Issue 631, Page 6 (24 November 2014) and Exeposé News online (27 November 2014)
“Should the Students’ Guild disaffiliate from the NUS?” is the question being put to the vote by Exeter DebSoc on Thursday 27 November – with NUS official Raechel Mattey controversially being including on the panel alongside student speakers.
Open to all students, the debate comes in the build up to this December’s student voting rounds, which will see Exeter students deciding whether the Guild remains in the NUS from September 2015.
Whether a two-thirds majority will be required to leave the NUS is yet to be decided, with a Student Idea challenging a current bylaw.
Arguing for disaffiliation is Charlie Evans, second year Economics and Politics student and ‘Yes’ campaign leader, along with first year International Relations and Middle Eastern studies student Georgia Drinkwater.
Meanwhile, the ‘No’ campaign will host Head of NUS Union Development Raechel Mattey – despite President Toni Pearce apparently being available to speak. Arguing for continued affiliation, Mattey will be supported by Elizabeth Jessop, a second year Accounting KPMG student.
“This is the most important debate that DebSoc has hosted in years as the result of the vote will directly affect students either way,” stressed Charlie Evans. “It is imperative that students get their views across.”
“The debates are an important part of the referendum campaign,” commented John Chilvers, leader of the campaign to remain in the NUS. He added: “It is a chance for us to challenge the opposition and hold them account for trying to significantly damage the Guild.”
Chilvers noted that the debate is “not the be all and end all,” explaining: “the most important part of our campaign is going to be about having those one on one conversations with students where we show them how the NUS benefits them.”
In the run-up to the debate, the ‘Yes’ campaign has raised doubts about the choice to invite Mattey rather than NUS President Toni Pearce.
Liam Taylor, Masters Economics student, commented: “We know that the NUS President was available and was going to speak but out of nowhere the pro-NUS campaign blocked her. It speaks volumes about the NUS that even they are too embarrassed to let their President defend the organisation she leads.”
At the ‘Yes’ launch, campaign members asked: “how is the President of the NUS not the most appropriate person to speak?” adding “with a vote of such magnitude, you should get the highest official available.”
Commenting on the choice, Chilvers explained: “Raechel Mattey was chosen as her portfolio is union development. We felt that she was best situated to come and speak,” insisting that Pearce was “not blocked at all.”
The Guild confirmed: “as VP Union Affairs Rachael is the most appropriate person to speak at the debate.”
Guild President Rachael Gilles described the vote on disaffiliation as “a fantastic way to round off a record-breaking term of Student Ideas.”
“There is no question that membership provides numerous direct and indirect benefits for students,” she continued. “It is important to uncover exactly what students want from the Guild’s NUS membership and whether the dissatisfaction that has led to this motion outweighs the benefits the Guild receives.”
Gillies described the DebSoc debate as “a great way to introduce students to what’s happening ahead of the subsequent Student Vote.”