Don Arthur’s post about Miranda Devine’s latest ravings generated some comment box discussion about the extent to which the “yoof” vote might have been part of the reason for the Coalition’s strong election showing. Don’s post seems tacitly to assume that yoof still tend to vote Labor, but some commenters took issue with that proposition.
As far as I can see, none of the major opinion polls broke down their election eve voting intention results by age group, so your guess is as good as mine. But a letter in today’s NT News (written by a CDU law student Shane Dexter) suggests a focus of yoof discontent with which I completely agree:
I am writing to voice my disgust at the full-page ad taken out by the CDU Students Union in the Northern Territory News (October 8) attacking Dave Tollner and the CLP.
My compulsory amenities fees, paid every semester, are supposed to be used in furthering mine and other students’ experience at CDU, not to push a political agenda that does not represent the views of your “members”.
I am absolutely appalled that so much money was spent trying to influence an election campaign – that is not the purpose of a students’ union.
If I wanted to contribute to the Labor Party or the Greens or Democrats campaigns, I would sign up as a member of those organisations and be more than happy if my hard-earneds were used in such a manner.
When is the CDUSU going to start a petition to abolish compuslory unionism at CDU? (I thought it was already the law in Australia).
That would be a far better use of your time and money – and I know of many students who would sign on to such a movement.
Leaving aside the fact that most of the students to whom Shane refers are probably members of the CDU Liberal Club (presided over by frequent Troppo commenter Jacques Chester), and despite the fact that I would have preferred Labor to have won last Saturday, I share Shane’s sense of disgust. This is a clear abuse of the role of a student union. It’s also very ill-timed, given that the current vice-chancellor has required various university organisations including the CDU Student Union to justify why they should continue to receive guaranteed funding from compulsory student amenity fees.
The current Student Union President (yet another law student) recently wrote another letter to the NT News protesting against the V-C’s actions in that regard. But the Student Union is skating on very thin ice in demanding that it continue to receive guaranteed funding extracted from students under duress, if it then spends those funds on partisan political causes having nothing whatever to do with student services or activities. If I was still a student, I’d be protesting against compulsory student unionism as well.
Moreover, in these days of universal HECS payments, the vast majority of undergraduate students combine their studies with extensive paid work, in order to be able to pay their HECS fees. Consequently most are on-campus only at lecture and tutorial times and when studying in the library. They just don’t have time to take advantage of the social and recreational activities the Student Union organises. Those students don’t see much benefit for themselves in the services CDUSU provides, and their ambivalent attitude turns to outright hostility when they see the Student Union executive using their hard-earned amenities fees to campaign for the ALP.
I’m a little ambivalent myself about whether CDUSU should retain its guaranteed share of student amenities fees. I’m opposed in principle to compulsory unionism, and this fiasco with plugging the ALP reinforces my view. On the other hand, if compulsory student unionism was abolished, most social and recreational activity on campus would grind to a halt. The university would become even more of a sterile, unstimulating environment than it already is. But maybe my halcyon undergraduate days at Sydney Uni, when most of us didn’t have to scrabble for paid part-time employment because HECS didn’t exist, are gone forever. Maybe universities are irretrievably destined to be little more than strictly utilitarian degree factories. But I hope not. There’s more to life than work, study and striving for career, money and possessions. But I’d better stop now before I start sounding like Clive Hamilton.