Discussions to scrap liberation officers are being considered by the NUS, causing disagreements amongst student activists.
The National Union of Students (NUS) has come under fire for considering to cut liberation roles at university unions.
Liberation officers represent the views of many students from black, minority and ethnic (BME) backgrounds to women’s, disabled and LGBT+ rights.
The National Union of Students represents over seven million UK students in higher and further eduction.
Proposals have emerged as part of a plan to cut costs after NUS projected a £3m deficit and a serious risk of bankruptcy.
The idea to cut liberation officers were one of the many strategies considered and debated at the NUS Strategic Conversation 2018.
Student activists have spoken out against the proposal, stating that axing liberation officers will damage the democratic elements of the union.
President of Cambridge University student union, Evie Aspinall, said that the proposal could be “very dangerous” – but also noted that they are only ideas, not final decisions.
She said: “For me, the heart of the NUS is that it should be protecting and fighting for students, particularly the most marginalised. Getting rid of liberation officers is very dangerous, in the sense it will curtail the NUS’s ability to do its core functions and protect students.”
Development president for Christ Church students’ union, Jordan Howard, attended the NUS meeting and agreed that the union has some ‘tough decisions’ to make.
Jordan said: “The NUS is facing a £3m deficit and has to find that money by next year. The NUS has a tough year ahead and has to make some tough decisions in terms of the services it provides.
“CCSU attended StratCon and we imputed to make sure that Christ Church students are and continue to be represented by the national body.”
Final proposals are yet to be confirmed at the NUS national conference in April.
Meanwhile, the NUS have responded to the criticisms, pointing out that they exist to prompt discussion into decision-making.
A spokesperson told The Guardian: “The aim of the paper is to bring together thoughts from NUS, students’ unions and others, and set out the principles for reform, to help frame discussions about [the] NUS’s future.
“A number of sketches are set out in the paper, along with a number of questions. It’s important to remember that these sketches are not definitive proposals but are meant to act as a stimulus to discussion.
“None of the sketches refer to reductions in democracy or campaigning, but one does seek to identify the best way of properly resourcing student leaders to deliver a powerful national student voice, given a potentially reduced income.”