Independent Imperial

April 9, 2004

I was somewhat perplexed to see Mandy Telford's letter ("NUS still united", April 2) in which she boldly claimed that students voted to remain in the NUS "in every single student union referendum ballot in the past 30 years".

Perhaps it was just an oversight on her part, but we at Imperial College Union have rejected the NUS consistently over that period in no fewer than four referenda. The last one was in 2002 when students rejected the national union by more than 70 per cent. This despite the fact that virtually the entirety of the National Executive Committee (from the president, Owain James, down) descended on South Kensington harassing our students about discounts at Top Shop and Burger King.

Our independence has never compromised our ability to work for the benefit of our members. Indeed, it has helped by giving us a strong, non-partisan, direct national voice. We have always worked with other student organisations (including the NUS) when it has been in our interest. We have no truck with NUS politics, yet still supported their protest and lobbies against top-up fees.

What we don't do is take part in time-wasting at national conference, nor compromise the interests of our members in the pursuit of personal political gain for an elite minority of student officers.

By staying out of the NUS, we all manage to save on the NUS' extortionate affiliation fees, for which other students' unions gain virtually no benefit. Perhaps this last point is one that those unions you report are in financial difficulties may wish to consider more carefully?

Mustafa Arif
Imperial College Union

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