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Vote Brooks Duke for NUS National President

 

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Section 2: Reforming and Opening up NUS

Introduction

As NUS celebrates its 80th anniversary, its structures have become outdated and a poor example of democracy in action. There are too many barriers to involvement, and it has become too easy for political factions to dominate and direct the work of annual conference. I have supported the reform debate this year and remain fully committed to moving it beyond discussion and to fully implementing the mandate for change. However, NUS is not going to be transformed by debates alone. As President I will lead the work to end the deeply embedded culture of unresponsiveness & unaccountability. These pages outline my vision to make our national union relevant and to attract ordinary students and student officers to determine the direction of our national union.

Strengthening our regions

The future of NUS lies in the strength of its regions and how well they are supported by NUS. For many studentsí unions, Regional Officers are often their only point of contact. Areas provide valuable support to further education unions, and examining how we work with Areas must to be a priority.

The fact that Regional Conferences have very little power and that most of the NEC members fail to turn up and be held accountable has led to poor attendance levels from student officers. It should be compulsory for NEC members elected at NUS conference to attend Regional Conferences and provide personal reports of their work. Regional Conferences should have the power to take action against the NEC when it fails to fulfil its responsibilities. We should establish third term Regional Conferences, which have the powers to play a role in drawing up Priority Campaigns.

As President, I will provide a report on proceedings at Regional Conferences and include their dates in the National Directory. I will also review the timing of Regional Conferences to maximise attendance by unions and NEC members.

An independent NUS

The future of NUS lies in the strength of its regions and how well they are supported by NUS. For many studentsí unions, Regional Officers are often their only point of contact. Areas provide valuable support to further education unions, and examining how we work with Areas must to be a priority.

The fact that Regional Conferences have very little power and that most of the NEC members fail to turn up and be held accountable has led to poor attendance levels from student officers. It should be compulsory for NEC members elected at NUS conference to attend Regional Conferences and provide personal reports of their work. Regional Conferences should have the power to take action against the NEC when it fails to fulfil its responsibilities. We should establish third term Regional Conferences, which have the powers to play a role in drawing up Priority Campaigns.

As President, I will provide a report on proceedings at Regional Conferences and include their dates in the National Directory. I will also review the timing of Regional Conferences to maximise attendance by unions and NEC members.

Ending barriers to involvement

At present it is too easy for political factions to pack delegations in uncontested elections, and then to control conference proceedings. Ordinary students and student officers who do not have the factional support or the money cannot get involved.

NUS should be a collection of the best the student movement can offer, not those handpicked by political factions. Too many student officers who work hard to win for students at a local level are put off and denied the opportunity to do this nationally.

I will create a system where all officers have a genuine chance to get involved, including creating an election fund to end one of the barriers to involvement. This would cost a fraction of the budget of conference and would allow fairer elections. I will also provide a job description for all positions by July. Further Education students are grossly under-represented on the NEC and at national conference.

I will provide cheap transport to Annual Conference, co-ordinated regionally, and fully train delegates to participate in our democracy.

The success of our national union depends on the number of students that participate in our democracy, and it is vital that our structures evolve with time to meet the changing nature of unions. I will establish a body to regularly review our democracy and make recommendations annually to conference.

Responsible & Acceptable NES

At present it is too easy for political factions to pack delegations in uncontested elections, and then to control conference proceedings. Ordinary students and student officers who do not have the factional support or the money cannot get involved.

NUS should be a collection of the best the student movement can offer, not those handpicked by political factions. Too many student officers who work hard to win for students at a local level are put off and denied the opportunity to do this nationally.

I will create a system where all officers have a genuine chance to get involved, including creating an election fund to end one of the barriers to involvement. This would cost a fraction of the budget of conference and would allow fairer elections. I will also provide a job description for all positions by July. Further Education students are grossly under-represented on the NEC and at national conference.

I will provide cheap transport to Annual Conference, co-ordinated regionally, and fully train delegates to participate in our democracy.

The success of our national union depends on the number of students that participate in our democracy, and it is vital that our structures evolve with time to meet the changing nature of unions. I will establish a body to regularly review our democracy and make recommendations annually to conference.

Opening up NUS' finances to scrutiny

For years student officers and studentsí unions have been kept in the dark about NUSí finances. Budgets have been approved with little scrutiny, and there are no updates throughout the year. NUS should practice what it preaches, and open out the finances to you, the member unions.

Next year, understanding the finances of NUS will become part of conference training. I will open up our finances and ensure every budget holder produces regular reports to the NEC for approval, which will then be made available to the membership. I am also determined to ensure every NEC member has full access to their budget from the time they take office, and in return the NEC must also accept responsibility to ensure NUS remains financially sound.

I will work with the Treasurer to ensure all finance documents are accessible to student officers in a manner that is understandable even to those with little knowledge of accounting. It is also vital that the future direction of the organisation is reflected in its finances. I will work with Finance Committee & the Treasurer to develop a five-year plan with specific targets to bring in new income from different sources. Student officers will be able to judge whether targets are being met through a regular & independent progress report from the Finance committee.

 

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Last modified: April 12, 2002