Working it out

30 March 2017

A National Union of Students (NUS) working group has been established to look into the relationship between the NUS and the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU).

The motion to form the working group was put forward at the first Students’ Council of the year as part of a number of recommendations submitted in Education (Public Affairs) Officer Sinead Manning’s NUS National Conference Delegate Report.

The recommendation stated that the Council establish the Working Group to “examine the continuing relationship between UMSU and the NUS before presenting Students’ Council with a report of their findings in six months”.

“A working group seemed like a way in which students who are not necessarily student politicians could engage with the NUS,” Manning said.

In its capacity as a student representative body, Manning regarded the involvement of students as fundamental to its operation.

During Council’s discussion, significant attention was drawn to how the group would be composed, and how that would impact
its operation.

Although it is expected that any University of Melbourne student will be welcome to contribute to the Group’s discussion, the motion limited voting rights to a select number of representatives. These include this year’s NUS delegates, the UMSU General Secretary or nominee, the UMSU President or nominee, a representative appointed by the UMSU Autonomous Office Bearers and a representative appointed by the UMSU Environment Department.

Specifically, members of NUS Executive, and the NUS Campus Representative were designated as non-voting members. This decision was based on the potential conflict of interest of enabling these members to vote.

Over the next six months the group is expected to prepare a number of recommendations around the UMSU-NUS relationship.

NUS Campus Representative for the University of Melbourne, Caleb Triscari, will be chairing the group’s meetings.

“This is the first time that a student association has done something like this before and I think it comes at the right time,” Triscari said.

“Students are becoming disenfranchised with the larger political sphere and in turn I believe this has an effect on local activist spaces. This disenfranchisement also comes hand in hand with repeated concerns over how the NUS operates both as a representative body and as a culture.”

UMSU is an affiliated member of the NUS. Support for the NUS within the Students’ Council is divided around the general operation and effectiveness of their actions.

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