Union AGM calls a Referendum for NUS Disaffiliation

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is a democratic meeting the Union holds once a year. For the 2019/20 academic year, it took place on Thursday February 4th in the Hamilton Centre. The AGM is an opportunity for students to directly impact the direction of the Union. Students are able to share their voice with the Executive Team by proposing motions, debating policy changes, querying affiliations and approving how the Union’s finances are conducted. The AGM also has the power to override decisions made at Student Assembly, call a Referendum and give nominees Honorary Union Membership for life.


The AGM’s ability to call a Referendum was utilised in this meeting, with Disability Officer Sean Cullen proposing a motion to disaffiliate from the National Union of Students UK (NUS). The NUS is a national body aiming to promote, defend and extend student rights. The NUS seek to fight discrimination, isolation and injustice through campaigning and targeted action. Their ultimate goal is to harness the collective power of students through the democratic representation of issues that affect students’ lives, driving change and influencing national policy.


Through the NUS Group, most notably NUS Charitable Services and NUS Services Ltd., the Union enjoy discounts on bulk hospitality purchases and other operational benefits. Sean outlined our current fee, projected at £30,000 for the next academic year and argued that we do not receive enough value for money on this investment. He described the NUS as disconnected from wider student affairs, in favour of marginal issues. Sean also highlighted the benefits of gaining independence from NUS UK, whilst still retaining memberships with the other NUS specialised entities, including commercial benefits and discounts for the Union. LGBT+ Officer Cayla Martin delivered an impassioned speech against, underlining the political achievements of the NUS and their advocacy or marginalised groups. Ultimately, the AGM voted in favour of calling a Referendum and this is due to take place after the Easter Holidays. 


Also in the meeting, a motion to bring back student media was proposed and passed – with an amendment. The Union will consequently support the launch of an independent online platform, but not a physical publication at this stage. A motion to grant Honorary Life Membership automatically to full-time officers and staff members who have completed 5 years of service within the union was also passed. Perhaps the most contentious matter of all, the motion to Revoke Boris Johnson’s Honorary Degree was the last to be discussed. After vigorous and robust debate, a procedural motion was approved to move to vote to our next Student Assembly meeting on the 14th of March at 5:30pm in Venue. If you are passionate about the issue, feel free to attend this meeting and share your view.


If you would like to read the minutes from the AGM, these are available at:  https://brunelstudents.com/about/documentstore/meetingminutes