The spokespeople for each side of the NUS (National Union of Students) referendum have been elected.
This follows a decision taken by the SRC (Students’ Representative Council) in April of this year to hold a referendum on the matter on 19-20 November 2015.
The referendum addresses the question: “Should the University of St Andrews Students’ Association join the National Union of Students? Yes or No.”
The NUS is a British confederation of students’ unions. Over 600 student unions are currently members of the NUS, meaning that the organisation represents over seven million students.
The University of St Andrews has been independent since 1975.
A previous referendum was held in 2012 at which 75 per cent of the 26 per cent turnout voted “No”.
On Thursday 29 October the Campaign Spokespeople for both the “Yes” and “No” side of the referendum were elected at two separate NUS referendum AGMs.
Both sides will be granted £100 by the Students’ Association in order to fund their campaigns.
The sole candidate to run for Campaign Spokesperson on the “No” side was Annie Newman, a fourth year IR and psychology student who is also the Rector’s Assessor.
She stated that, if elected, her campaign would not focus on the negative financial ramifications of joining the NUS since she believes that these are already well known.
Instead, she would like to focus on what saying “No” is actually saying “Yes” to, such as “having societies that actually function because we have money to give them” and “having the University as our partner and not our enemy”.
Ms Newman also stressed the importance of uniting “No” voters in a single group, focusing on the many “internal” reasons to stay apart from the NUS.
In her closing statement, she said: “We like the way that we are at St Andrews”.
Ms Newman was elected as Campaign Spokesperson.
Tommy Rowe, a third year film studies student, was the sole candidate to run for Deputy Campaign Spokesperson on the “No” side.
He stated that he would like to help Ms Newman run her campaign because, although “Annie focused on the positives of saying ‘No’, I think there are also a lot of negatives to saying ‘Yes’ and that’s what’s scaring me about it a little bit”.
Mr Rowe mentioned this in tandem with the large amount of money which the University would be parting with in order affiliate with an organisation which, he believes, “wouldn’t really do that much for us”.
Mr Rowe also expressed his desire to show the facts with “eye-catching” infographics.
Mr Rowe was elected as Deputy Campaign Spokesperson.
The “Yes” campaign have also selected their spokespeople. The “Yes” event suffered from a very low turnout, with only 2 students in attendance.
Jo Boon was elected as Spokesperson, with Ali West as her deputy.
They told The Saint: “We look forward to showing students the benefits of the NUS, and of joining with other students across the country. We look forward to being part of this important conversation over the coming weeks.”
Campaign week begins on 11 November 2015 at 9am. Voting opens on 19 November and closes the following day at 5 pm