NUS referendum cancelled due to lack of interest

Union - Henry Legg

The referendum on whether or not St Andrews should join the National Union of Students (NUS) has been officially cancelled.

The referendum was due to be held over 19 November to 20 November.

The motion to cancel the referendum passed without objection in a special joint meeting of Student Representatives Council (SRC) and Student Services Council (SSC).

The motion was triggered by the resignation of both the spokespeople for the “Yes” campaign, Jo Boon and Ali West.

Only one student attended an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the “Yes” side to replace them, and as they did not wish to stand for election – the posts remained vacant.

During debate on the motion, express was concerned by one SRC member over the amount of promotion the meetings to elect leaders for each side, and the referendum in general, had received.

Joe Tantillo, the Students’ Association Director of Representation, said in response that several emails had been sent out to the entire student body and that the meetings had also received promotion online through social media.

“The elections committee also believes that it’s up to those students who want to participate to generate a lot of the activity as well,” Mr Tantillo said.

External Campaigns Officer, Toby Emerson, said that he supported the motion but proposed an amendment to mandate the Association and Sabbatical officers to conduct research into the lack of student participation and engagement and produce a report to the councils before March.

Kyle Blain, Director of Student Development and Activities, agreed, saying that “I don’t think anyone in here would disagree with saying that we have a problem with student engagement.”

The amendment was passed without objection.

Robert Dixon, the societies officer on the SSC, spoke in support of cancelling the referendum: “It’s our responsibility to hold referendums and elections fairly … to hold the referendum without one campaign team would be irresponsible.”

The President of the Students’ Association, Pat Mathewson, gave his views on what the procedure for future referendums should be. He said: “Seven months ago, we sat in this room and I said it would be much better if this was coming from students. I think moving forward in the future that’s exactly what we should go for. I think, quite frankly, it’s malpractice that you’re engineered to have a referendum that wasn’t led by students in the first place.”

“Let’s be responsive to the students that put us in these roles,” he added.

Mr Tantillo expressed his disappointment that the referendum would not be going forward to The Saint. “When we initially put it through, and the councils were split, although I didn’t have a vote at the time I was opposed to us doing it without a petition,” he said. “Though, once it was going forward, I was excited about it.”

He continued: “I think we’ve rectified a situation where we probably shouldn’t have had it [the referendum] in the first place. Though if there are any students out there who want it, in the future, the mechanisms still exist to bring it forward. I think we’ve done the right thing for the student body.”


  1. This whole Jo Boondoggle has been hilarious to watch.

    First, despite the University historically having always rejected joining the NUS (75 percent to 25 percent last time!), a small group of activists railroaded us into having yet another referendum on the issue. For whatever reason they think we should be forced to accept the mandate of what a bunch of quote-unquote “activists” (under the veneer of being some kind of single-party legislature) decide on a whim. Yet most of the students here are smart enough to know that we are capable of governing ourselves, thank you very much, so it was always going to fail anyway.

    Then, despite the fact that we would have to fork over nearly 20,000 pounds to this organization, the pro-NUS camp whined that they didn’t have enough money to run their campaign. Obviously the irony that they request more money so they can campaign for our Union giving the rest of it away is lost on them. The annual affiliation fee would amount to 80 per cent of the societies’ budget granted by the University, but that is a small price to pay to score points for my frothing political agenda!

    Finally, despite their self-styled passion for student “politics” they resign at the last minute and end up just wasting our time and money. Precisely the kind of maturity one would expect from someone wanting to join that absurd organization.

    Let this issue die already, no one wants it, no one cares.


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