Last week, Bath SU announced it would hold a referendum to decide its stance on the upcoming EU referendum. SU referenda are rare, happening only once every few years, and require a minimum turnout of 5%.
The EU referendum is a huge issue that will affect students across the country for the remainder of their lives, therefore it was appropriate that the SU both poll its members extensively, and take a clear stance going forward for all students to be well-informed before the vote on June 23rd.
Students for Europe Bath had an established campaign team and had been campaigning on campus for some time, but a Students for Britain team came together as a result of the referendum to campaign for a Leave vote. Crucially, while in the EU referendum only UK and Commonwealth nationals are eligible to vote, in the SU referendum all students could vote, giving a voice to those EU students and even overseas students who otherwise are shut out.
By the end of the first day of voting, the referendum was already almost quorate, and by the time votes closed at 10pm on the 21st, 1,668 students had made their voices heard, pushing turnout above 10% of the student body. The count took place the next morning, and it was found 1474 of those students – 88% – wanted their Students’ Union to support the campaign to Remain. This is a clear mandate for the SU to continue its voter registration drives as it is an incredibly important, generation-defining issue; it is also a call for the SU to actively support the In vote, inform its members on the issue; and facilitate student and local campaigners working to secure a future for Britain within the EU.