The new campaign group calling for CUSU to disaffiliate from NUSJames Sutton

On Thursday evening, the Cambridge Union played host to a victory for the campaign calling for CUSU to disaffiliate itself from NUS. The emergency debate, which was only decided upon on Wednesday, saw proposers Connor MacDonald and Oriyan Prizant put forward the case: “This house would disaffiliate from the NUS."

The debate was sparked by the recent election of Malia Bouattia to the presidential position of the National Union of Students, having drawn much criticism for alleged anti-Semitic views and connections with Islamic extremists.

The proposition mainly focused their arguments around Bouattia’s stance towards Jewish students, with Oriyan Prizant saying that “Malia Bouattia is a bigot. She is a bigot filled with hate.” He went on to say that NUS is a union that is meant to represent students’ interests, including international students, but instead says to Israeli students “we are no longer representing you – we are boycotting you.”

However, his most powerful criticism of NUS and Bouattia came towards the end of his allotted time, where he condemned Bouattia for suggesting that “Yazidis are not human enough to merit human rights.”

Connor MacDonald, an NUS delegate himself, also criticised NUS for its hard-left political stance, saying that the union no longer dealt with the the interests of students, but focused on pedalling a left-wing ideology.

MacDonald went on to call for full disaffiliation, as he believed NUS does not want to debate with anyone, and actively ensures that those people who disagree with them do not have a platform.

He said: “The student Left does not want to debate,” and indicated that the union will shut down “anyone who dares challenge their iron grip.”

The idea that NUS is an organisation in need of change was also taken on by the opposition, particularly by Olly Hudson, also an NUS delegate, who said publicly about the NUS conference that “Anti-Semitism is the scourge of the student movement and the willingness of some to speak over the lived experiences of Jewish students in the most powerful forum of student democracy has both shocked and scared me.”

He said how he was disgusted that anti-Semitic ideas were applauded at NUS’s conference, and how the commemorations for Holocaust Memorial Day were voted against by some delegates on the grounds that it gives privilege to Jewish students. However, the NUS motion in favour of commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day passed with a majority.

However, he criticised those students who now came out against NUS, saying that “those who want to disengage have never engaged.”

He called for faith in students to change NUS, saying that the fight for the changes was “not a fight that’s going to be won by throwing toys out of the pram.”

Angus Satow, the second opposition speaker, also called for students to change NUS, not abandon it, as he said that students’ rights are under attack like never before, and are in need of a union to protect them.

He received heckles from the floor, however, when he indicated that students shouldn’t relapse on student unions because of the actions of one person.

He went on to say that he did not believe that Malia Bouattia was a bigot, as her speech was centred around liberation; an idea which was met again with murmurs from his audience.

The campaign group NUS: Let Cambridge Decide claimed a victory in the debate, as the feeling on the floor of the Union turned in favour of disaffiliation.