Durham Students’ Union (DSU) have overwhelmingly voted to remain affiliated to the National Union of Students (NUS) after a four-day referendum.
2159 students participated in the referendum, giving a turnout of 11%, a figure that surpasses the 5% needed for the referendum to be quorate. 1299 voted in favour of remaining, while 830 voted to disaffiliate.
Voting patterns across Durham University’s colleges varied considerably. University College (73 to 54), John Snow College (13 to 12), Grey College (53 to 36), St. Mary’s College (60 to 57), Josephine Butler College (67 to 46) and Stephenson College (32 to 21) all, with relatively small margins, voted for disaffiliation. However, there were enough other colleges, such as St. Aidan’s (which voted to remain by 256 votes to 67), supportive of affiliation to turn the tide for the ‘Durham #Yes2NUS’ camp.
In a statement on Twitter the thrilled current DSU President, Millie Tanner, noted how she was ‘‘excited to see the NUS improve from within. We really are better together’’.
Perhaps more important for the future of the DSU are the remarks of its President for 2016-2017. Speaking to The Bubble after the result was announced, Alice Dee, said: ‘‘I’m absolutely elated with the referendum result. Not only was the turn out good, but the percentage of students voting to remain in the NUS has given a clear message of support from Durham. I’m looking forward to working with the NUS to develop our SU and to tackle national and local issues affecting Durham students.’’
Though recent student union referenda have seen York, Oxford, Cambridge, Exeter and Warwick SUs all voting to stay with the NUS, other student unions such as that of nearby Newcastle University have decided to disaffiliate. All this was triggered by the election to the Presidency of the NUS in April of Malia Bouattia, who has been dogged by claims of being anti-Semitic after a tight and controversial campaign against incumbent Megan Dunn.
Reviewing the referendum process itself the DSU ‘’thank[ed] campaigners on both sides for informing, debating and promoting the voice of students on this issue’’. Despite ‘‘complaints received by the Deputy Returning Officer on both sides, all were resolved with the cooperation and willingness of each campaign to keep an even playing field’’.
In the student trustee elections, the results of which were released concurrently with those of the affiliation referendum, it was announced that Charles Walker, David Evans, Daniel Fox, and Holly Foxon have all been appointed trustees.