Hull is where the heart lies

Tuesday 17-05-2016 - 10:50

Dear Hull students, I’m not really one for splashing my emotions all over the internet but I can’t sit through the #huuref without putting some feels out there.

HUU needs to be a member of NUS. As someone who lived, studied and worked at Hull Uni for five years, I think I get to say that with some kind of authority.

Firstly it almost goes without saying, affiliation makes sense to students’ bank accounts and their lives.

NUS operates the NUS extra card with the exclusive discounts like 10 per cent at Co-op and 40 per cent at Pizza Express. But we also have done a phenomenal amount over the years to make the cost of living bearable for students. We negotiated council tax exemptions, tenancy deposit schemes and 16-25 railcards. We started the student travel and student insurance industries before they were things.

Last year alone we scrapped unfair apprenticeships loans and raised the minimum wage. We won sharia-compliant loans and saved £28 million of the national scholarship programme. We halted cuts to Disabled Students’ Allowance and ensured £350 million of the student opportunity fund was left untouched to help the most vulnerable students.

These are things we talked about when I was at Hull; students being skint or the most vulnerable not being supported. And NUS led action on those things.

You might not also know that NUS affiliation makes business sense for your students’ union. In 14/15 HUU spent £51,083 on NUS affiliation. Profit from sales of the NUS extra card alone were £16,344.46 and the organisation saves approximately £70k on buying products through the students’ union buying consortium (based on 13/14 figures). Anyone who is telling you HUU saves money by leaving NUS ain't right.”

But the thing that stands out for me, that really gets me, is that I was a Hull student who needed a strong students’ union. I was the first one in my family to go to uni, and one of the only ones of my friends who went on to further study and opportunities outside of Dover.

I was out of my depth.

But I built a friendship group through the students’ union. I stayed on my course because of the students’ union. I would have gone hungry but the SU gave me food (literally).

I fell in love with the place and the people and chip spice and snakebite and the societies and Wednesday and Thursday nights and the advice centre and the friendliness and those squirrels on campus and everything else that makes Hull Uni and HUU great.

And my story is not rare. Because all the time students’ unions are doing proactive stuff like this, giving opportunities and advice and shaping the system. It’s all fundamentally about trying to address inequalities in education and society.

Helping working class kids like me exist in a world which was once built to keep people like me out.

HUU is a stronger, more effective and more influential union on a national scale because of NUS membership. NUS gives officers and staff training and support. NUS cultivates networks and hosts conferences and offers specialist support by the bucket load.

I appreciate that the policy positions and the outcomes of elections are not always what Hull students will agree with – or indeed what I voted for - but the process is representative, built on the democracies of local students’ unions, and from the inside I’m working on making it better.

From the inside students’ unions can have arguments about how we work.
From the inside students’ unions can debate what we think.
From the inside students’ unions have more power, and can give power to students more generally.

Leaving or disaffiliating means breaking up the national movement and it does nothing but mug students off and undermine the position of HUU, NUS and students’ unions across the country.

When I think of Hull being one of the first members to leave NUS it breaks my heart. Hull students now and in the future need a strong union like I needed one. My friends who never made it out of Dover, who never got to experience tertiary education like I did, deserve to have a strong student movement. One which has the ability and intention to make students' lives better. And we can, but only if we’re together.


Love Richard, who doesn't even go here (anymore)


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