This was originally posted by Bath Students Against Fees & Cuts – NCAFC has re-posted it at the request of that group. BSAFC is a group of students in Bath campaigning for free, accessible education!
At Bath Students Against Fees and Cuts, we were disappointed to observe University of Bath Students’ Union President Jordan Kenny’s behaviour over the last week. Firstly, he led the publication of a misleading open letter to the NUS NEC regarding recent events surrounding NUS affiliation to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and Coca Cola sponsorship of NUS events, and followed it up with a bizarre, self-aggrandising statement on his involvement in the NEC and his claims to represent the student voice.
The University of Bath students amongst us would like to make it clear that Kenny does not represent our views to the NUS NEC, and we do not believe that Bath SU had a mandate from students to issue the letter in question. We were amused to read of the importance Kenny places on accountability and representation, since we believe he has a record of ignoring the student voice and results of SU-run polls when the outcomes contradict his own opinions. Bath SU has no democratically elected executive to hold the SU officers to account and no general meetings where student members can vote on or inform SU policy – the very least you might expect from a so-called democratic organisation. Our calls for the establishment of a student council have been dismissed, while in the absence of any forum for discussion, the best the SU has been willing to offer are ‘indicative polls’, though it fails to advertise them and buries them inaccessibly within the SU webpage. Notably, despite 86% of respondents replying ‘yes’ to a poll asking whether Bath SU should support last year’s free education demo, the SU took no action. Perhaps Mr Kenny’s lack of exposure to democratic accountability at his own SU could explain his inability, or unwillingness, to understand it within the NUS.
A bit of background:
In August 2014, the NUS voted to become affiliated to the BDS movement, a campaign designed to increase economic and political pressure on Israel to end the occupation and colonization of Palestinian land. Coca Cola, represented by the Central Bottling Company Ltd in Israel, operates factories within illegal Israeli settlements, and thus Coca Cola products fall under the remit of BDS.
Whether BDS is an effective tactic in ending illegal Israeli occupations is much debated, but nonetheless, having passed the motion we believe the NUS should stand by it. However, the current president of the NUS, Megan Dunn, chose to ignore NUS policy and accepted Coca Cola sponsorship of the NUS annual awards ceremony.
As a direct result of her actions, a motion was passed at NUS NEC to censure the president, an action which represents a serious criticism and display of disapproval. BSAFC welcomed this news, as we believe union democracy deserves to be upheld and that officers should be held accountable for their actions. Jordan Kenny’s defence of an NUS president who wilfully ignores the voice of her organisation is a disappointing but unsurprising stance.
Read more here:
- Open letter to the NUS NEC from SU officers: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5efvXBZP1nwbVoxT0M5ZzRuZEU/view?pli=1
- NUS NEC motions (11 and 21): http://beta.nusconnect.org.uk/resources/nec-motions-and-amendments-meeting-1-20-july-2015