Southampton Students Vote NO to NUS: Reaction and Interviews









So, after just over a month of hard campaigning, the results are in!
Southampton University students have voted decidedly to stay out of the National Union of Students.

The questions “Should SUSU be affiliated to the NUS?” was asked of students on December 6th, and the results were announced as follows:
3595 students voted NO
1296 students voted  YES

4,891 students voted, that’s roughly 20% of the student population at Southampton.

On the night, both campaign teams, along with the President of the National Union of Students turned out to hear whether all their hard work had paid off. The Wessex Scene also popped down for a post result chat with all the relevant parties, and this is what they had to say…

Liam Burns, President of the National Union of Students.

‘So look [we’re] obviously gutted, we were really excited about the idea of Southampton being in membership; we think you guys would contribute hugely to the national movement and we think we’ve got a lot to give back to you guys, but the decision’s been made. It was a very clear decision. You guys have continued to be excellent; I’ve got nothing but praise for your sabbaticals, and the important thing now is that they get back to a positive tone, being able to work with Southampton Students , and we’ll [the NUS]get back to trying to fight for students nationally. In terms of the campaign and the turnout, what are your thoughts on that? Well it was an excellent turnout from what I can tell. That’s an excellent turnout; I couldn’t give you any analysis of why that is, how it is, but that’s something we should probably look at. ‘Cause one of the things we do going away from referendums like this is, well we can say, “right, well what was the problem; how do we learn from it, how do we change, how do we make sure that we are relevant to all student unions and that’s what we need to work on now.’

Simon Boyce, from the NO2NUS Campaign

I thought the result was absolutely amazing. I’ve just found out that we won, and we won by miles and it’s incredible. We had such a great response from everyone; I’m just so pleased.

On the result of 73% NO

Honestly, I didn’t expect it. I though it would be a lot closer. I thought we’d done it, because we had such positivity from everyone we spoke to but I think this is just amazing and its testament to everyone’s hard work.

Who is there to thank?

Andrea, Katie, Luke, Johnny, Anna… absolutely everyone that voted, is the important thing, and everyone that told a friend to vote, because that’s what really did it for us. A lot of people got inspired by what we were doing, and that was the main thing.

On voter turnout

Absolutely fantastic. I said this morning that whatever way it goes, honestly, I just want it to be a big turnout and I want it to be decisive. A lot of people did want to stay out of the NUS.

Adam Scott, Yes2NUS campaign  Team. He also ran the Yes campaign in the referendum two years ago.

What are your immediate thoughts on the result?

Compared to the campaign 2 years ago, we got 100 more votes. I think one of the things is that the the University obviously doesn’t want to be a member of the NUS, and I disagree with that, but more people voted that they didn’t want to be in, and that’s the way elections go – you can’t win them all. One thing I want to say, though, right at the start, is congratulations to all the no team. They did a great campaign, they got the message out there, they did a great campaign, and congratulations to all of their people on that campaign. Obviously, congratulations to all the people on our YES campaign. The people that ran it, from Phil, to Jacob, Olivia, and Shane, and Sasha, and Kez, and everyone else. That’s the way elections go. We put the message out there. We said, This is what the NUS offers.

Dave Gilani did a great job putting it on. Now’s not the time for speculation on why it didn’t work.

Congratulations to everyone that took part in the campaigns.

David Gilani, Deputy Returning Officer for the Referendum and VP Communications (He was in charge of the ‘day to day running of this referendum’).

On learning that the turnout was 4,891.

Hearing it was one of the best parts of my sabbatical year so far. It all happened in one day, a bigger turnout, almost 150% of the turnout from the last referendum when it was across three and a half days. I think because the expectation was lower, it meant that much more that the message did get out to students, which I kind of started doubting, myself, at some points.

So it’s the teams to congratulate for the turnout?

Definitely. I think the teams this year have put in a phenomenal effort in not just developing their campaign, but also developing their teams. So they had time this referendum to gain support and turn that support not just into votes but into people who were willing to give up their time to campaign, and that really helped.

You’ve remained neutral throughout the referendum. What’s your reaction to the result?

Through my perspective as the deputy returning officer, that type of result is fantastic, because, if it was, for example, literally 51% to 49%, or something around that, people then want to pick holes in it. They’d want to say: well, if we’d done that differently, or if this was run differently, they’d challenge and doubt things because it matters. But this was very clear. A 3 to 1 ratio [of votes No:Yes]. 73% of students don’t want to be part of the NUS, which gives the referendum a fantastic mandate. It makes the thing we are agreeing to, to not affiliate, so much stronger. So more people voted, and in a higher ratio than they did last time.

So that’s it for the Soton Uni NUS Referendum 2012! It was a hard fought campaign by both sides and we’re sure both teams will be grateful for the relative rest they’ll now get.

Thanks for reading the Wessex Scene coverage of the NUS Referendum.


Discussion3 Comments

  1. avatar

    Obviously I was grabbed and questioned just seconds after hearing the result so sorry everyone I didn’t thank!

    We particularly couldn’t have done it without Oli, Alex, Joel, Tom, Alice, Marcus, Sam, Claire, Oli and everyone else who sat working away on this for weeks in the Bridge.

    Well done to the yes team too, I thought they were particularly effective on the ground talking to people and you can’t get a turnout like this without getting a lot of people to be interested and care.

    Thanks to all the voters too, the people who really engaged with this made all the stress and lack of sleep worthwhile


    Oscar speech?


    Just felt bad that my mind was a bit blank when asked who should get the credit for this

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