Letter: Isolated in Sheffield

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The Independent Online
Sir: I wish to express concern at the proposals put forward in Sheffield University Union's leaked study (report, 14 September). Theirs is an isolated view and in no way represents feelings within Bristol University Union, nor in any other university unions that I have discussed the matter with.

Student unions have a vital role as providers of welfare, sports and other recreational facilities, but it is impossible to divorce these roles from their representative and campaigning functions. The proposal to set up a separate funding system for campaigning activity fails to realise that there is no clear line to be drawn between what could be perceived as 'campaigning activity' and other 'legitimate' student union activity. Where would a campaign to increase safety standards in institutions fit into their welfare/campaign divide?

Student unions pride themselves on their openly democratic decision-making structures. All students may participate in meetings that control the running of all aspects of student unions. NUS itself is a federal organisation that services student unions - not individual students. Any system that seeks to create individual membership of NUS fails to understand this relationship.

Yours faithfully,

JESSICA BOWLES

President

Bristol University

Student Union

Clifton, Bristol

15 September

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