Student unionism under the gun

(via Jacques Chester) Apparently the Howard government has now introduced into the House of Representatives a Bill that effectively abolishes compulsory student unionism in Australia. The principal operative provision reads:

(1) A higher education provider must not:
(a) require a person to be or to become a member of an organisation of students, or of students and other persons; or
(b) require a person enrolled with, or seeking to enrol with, the provider to pay to the provider or any other entity an amount in respect of an organisation of students, or of students and other persons;
unless the person has chosen to be or to become a member of the organisation.
(2) A higher education provider must not require a person enrolled with, or seeking to enrol with, the provider to pay to the provider or any other entity an amount for the provision to students of an amenity, facility or service that is not of an academic nature, unless the person has chosen to use the amenity, facility or service.

I have some significant reservations about the Bill, in that it may well result in a reduction in services and amenities to uni students, through a combination of student apathy and (understandable) parsimony if amenities/union fees are optional. But on balance I don’t think the basic principle of freedom of choice and freedom of association (which must include the freedom not to associate) can be compromised by this sort of coercive impost.

Moreover, with the incidence of students combining their studies with full-time or substantial part-time paid employment, my personal observation on the CDU campus is that only a fairly small minority of students is in fact able to take advantage of the services offered by the Student Union. Nevertheless, abolishing compulsory student unionism may well be a further step along the road to universities being colourless degree factories, so I can’t see the Bill as a cause for unbounded rejoicing.

Others will no doubt see it as vindictive Howard government payback for student unions using their members’ funds to campaign against the re-election of the Coalition last year. But that was a seriously inappropriate utilisation of compulsorily-exacted union/amenities fees. What did they expect?

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

I should add that I am strongly in support of the bill. The current formulation (which is different from the last) has the fingerprints of ALSF activism on it. Particularly the new form, designed to close out the “outsourcing loophole”.

I predict that the major impact at Charles Darwin University will be some union staff being put out of work.

I have written an article for Delirra outlining how Clubs and Societies may prepare for VSU. We’ll see if it’s published!

Buzz
Buzz
2022 years ago

They expected to win and not have to face this dilemma.

Polly
Polly
2022 years ago

I actually don’t think it is inappropriate for student organisations to use their funds to campaing against a government that seems to be trying to wreck higher education totally.

I also do not agree that it is a repsone to last years election campaign. The Liberals have had their sights on student unions since at least the 80s to my knowledge

liam hogan
2022 years ago

In the absence of trackbacks, please find my response here:
http://commentariat.redrag.net/2005/03/16/voluntary-student-unionism/

As to freedom of association: Student associations provide a representative function, not just a service one. If people could opt out of not being represented by their Councils, I’m sure many would, but the Government has not suggested anybody be allowed not to pay rates.

If any students have a problem with how SAs spend their money, they should run for election and change it.

Nic White
2022 years ago

Not sure where Curtin University stands on this. They require a $100py S&AF but it goes directly to the university unless the student chooses the join the Guild (they dont have to), in which case the payment goes directly to the Guild.

liam hogan
2022 years ago

It’s usually the case that if a student doesn’t want their money going to the Student Association, they can write to the Uni and ask for their fee to be sent to a charity of their choice instead.
‘Freedom of association’ is a pretext, no more.

Caz
Caz
2022 years ago

If any students have a problem with how SAs spend their money, they should run for election and change it.

Nice theory that, Liam. When I was at uni I had plenty of issues with how the SA was spending my cash. A $100K fast food van, for example, was supposedly necessary. Unfortunately, not being a recipient of Austudy, I was far too busy working 40 hours a week on top of my fulltime study just so I could continue to afford to live out of home and attend university (and pay these ridiculous fees), and certainly didn’t have any free time left over to spend on student politics.

Nic White
2022 years ago

Caz has a point. The “run for election and change things yourself rather than bitching” attitude isnt really a fair one. Again, they are elected to represent the interests of those who voted for them, not their own.

Rafe
2022 years ago

This move is long overdue. Contrary to Polly’s view, student unions are not led by reps of the majority of students , they are led by activists in training for later political activism. In that capacity they have misused the funds in all manner of radical causes that have nothing to do with the interests of the majority of students and nothing to do with improving the universities.
As a matter of fact the ALP has done just as much as the Coalition in recent decades to damage the universities, so it is absurd to suggest that students who want to improve the sector should have their funds devoted to anti-Coalition campaigning. That simply reflects the lack of understanding and also the lack of principle of radical activists.

C.L.
2022 years ago

A great day for freedom of association and democracy.

liam hogan
2022 years ago

I’ve got a problem too, I don’t agree with the way the Sydney of City Council spends its money on new years’ eve fireworks, footpath flowerpots and suchlike things. I likewise don’t have time to run for election to Council. Oh, won’t somebody stand up for my right not to be represented?

Jason Soon
Jason Soon
2022 years ago

so when will the Howard government start passing laws requiring hotel chains to unbundle proper accomodation services from other services?

Polly
Polly
2022 years ago

Rafe,
Please read my original post again then show me where I said or even implied student associations are “led by reps of the majority of students” or where I said or implied that I agreed with any of their other activities?

Please do not read into my comments anything other than I have written especially when I have written a very short and restricted post.

I would equally support them running campaigns against the ALP if that was in the best interests of the students. I never suggested those activities be restricted to campaigning against the coalition.

BTW the SA at my uni campaigned against Labor especially when HECS was first mooted and during the restructuring of CAEs etc.

Paul Watson
2022 years ago

Liam Hogan and Polly are right. Student union-provided services are far from perfect, but a student democracy provides the most possible transparency, and lowest possible entry barriers to a stakeholder changing the status quo, if he/she doesn’t like it.

Of course the food at student union-run places is generally both over-priced and mediocre. But letting “the market”

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

I think there’s a serious tension between the advocacy/representative function of a student union and its role as provider of services, amenities etc to students. The advocacy/representative function really isn’t compatible with compulsory extraction of fees, because almost inevitably a significant proportion of students will oppose the union’s actions as a matter of political conviction. They shouldn’t be compelled to fund their political opponents.

By contrast, it IS fair (at least arguably) for all students to be required to pay their fair share for services and facilities the union provides, even if individual students don’t (or can’t) take advantage of all those services. I never use Darwin City Council libraries, for instance, or their child care centres, nor have I ever driven down a high proportion of Darwin streets, but that doesn’t mean it’s unfair that some part of my rates be used to provide those services.

I really think the representative/advocacy functions should be completely separated from the service delivery functions in universities, before compulsory levying of fees could be supported as a matter of principle. That way, the advocacy union could advocate to its heart’s content with money provided by its voluntary membership, and no-one could complain. Meanwhile, compulsory levies could properly be extracted for provision of amenities and services, and almost no-one would complain about that either. Possibly not even the Howard government.

Gary
2022 years ago

What union provides services such pub’s,club’s and shops other then Uni ones. This seems to be a perversion of what unions got started for and this malice solidarity with the ‘little people’s it engenders. These services are available off campus so how can they make judgments and become leaders if they are separated from the rest of the community. What the root cause of concern is what they see happening to other real unions diminished support because of political activism.

John Morhall
John Morhall
2022 years ago

Being off totally campus, my contributions are proof of theory that black holes really do exist. I am not against paying for services which I cannot access per se, but would like to see an accounting of where the money goes and what it achieves -what proportion is spent on on representation and what is spent on services for example. I suppose a business plan with defined outcomes is too much to ask.

Robert
2022 years ago

My view is that the current WA model is roughly acceptable (students choose whether to pay a compulroty fee to the uni or the guild), but I would make a few minor changes.

http://robert.redrag.net/2005/03/16/vsu/

Robert
2022 years ago

Er, obviously that should be “compulsory”.

James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

‘I think there’s a serious tension between the advocacy/representative function of a student union and its role as provider of services, amenities etc to students.’

Isn’t this why Sydney Uni had a separate Union and SRC, with separate fees? Can anyone tell me if this is still the case?

I don’t think there’s as much tension as you assert, Ken. Most kinds of governments do both. Perhaps the issue is whether a student union needs to represent students in regard to foreign policy and other matters that don’t concern students as students. But if the students hate funding the PLO and ‘bus trips to Wommera’, can’t they get up a referendum to change the constitution and outlaw the use of members’ funds for such purposes?

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

I see a lot of comments along the lines of “you can run for office”, or “you can amend the constitutions”. I also hear that student fees are “like rates”.

The analogy is flawed. While membership – and fees – are compulsory, voting is not so. Everyone is forced to vote for federal, state and municipal elections, which provides the kind of broad representation which democratic thinking demands. Only a pitiful handful of students vote at all in student elections, which makes an out-and-out mockery of the idea that these organisations are representative.

By making membership voluntary, I expect there will be a much higher percentage turnout, simply because those who want to vote will be those who wanted to pay. It will make the unions *more* democratic, not less.

Next spurious analogy, please.

James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

Many people advocate non-complusory voting for municipalities, and I rather suspect that you, Jacques, might be one of them. If they get their way, will you then apply your above logic to municipalities, and insist that membership and rates be made voluntary?

Joel Parsons
2022 years ago

To being with, I’ll disclose I am 100% pro VSU.

As to the VSR model which still entails a compulsory service union, I think there is an inconsistency with the idea of a University and a seperate service union as well. If students need certain services, shouldn’t they be included in our HECS or full fees? In any other business, if they took your money (or the government’s) and then without having warned you earlier sent someone else along to hit you up for more, to provide services that are integral to the provision of the original service – it would be considered grossly unfair. If these services are necessary, they should be included in university fees / HECS, if they aren’t, they should be funded voluntarily through the free market, either on a pay as you go basis or through a voluntary union.

jen
jen
2022 years ago

Alright Parish further to our domestic discussion. I am still very interested to know what student activities would come under the heading services and what would be deemed advocacies.

Can you expand the list beyond the 3 we mostly agree on and mount a avery convincing argument for ‘clubs and societies’. I would also be very interested to hear again why you believe the student newspaper would be an advocacy and not a service and why the political parties in the clubs and societies would be deemed services.

Put yer money where yer mouth is, that’s wot I say. ‘If we are paying then we are also deciding where our priorities lie.’ – that is a student speaking (not me) – an imaginary student –

It is not a bad idea tho’ Parish. But what I do want to know young man is… How do you go about doing it? Who decides what goes where and how much it costs?

Robert Merkel
2022 years ago

While I also object to the spending of student union money on wider political activism, the fact was that such things were only ever a tiny fraction of the budgets of universities. Frankly, I suspect that most of the objection to that political advocacy is purely because it was almost always the campus left doing the advocacy. I’m sure they wouldn’t have had any objections to using student union funds for advocating Liberal Party causes – after all, they’d only be following the shining example of John Howard in the lead up to the last election.

Now that piece of snark is out of the way, on to the substantial issue. The government has recently given the universities some flexibility in the level of fees they charge. The universities are competing in the marketplace for students – and the Libs have said they want universities to become more diversified. Why the hell can’t they differentiate themselves by choosing whether they want to make amenities and services fees compulsory, optional, or for that matter abolish the lot. Some universities might choose to get rid of union catering (as far as I’m concerned, no loss whatsoever given the average quality of the food). Some might choose to give extra funding to student theatre. NIDA might decide to increase funding for its rugby league team. Whatever. The universities go down the road of choosing their own destinies, which is nominally Liberal Party policy despite their recent tendancies to micromanage everything in the higher education sector. Students make their choice of which university to go to based on what’s important to them. Liberal students continue to lose student elections. Everyone’s happy.

Oh, and Ken, Australian universities are IMO well down the road to becoming colourless degree factories, and this will accelerate the process. Makes me value the Melbourne Uni colleges, elitist institutions though they undoubtedly are. At least there is some sense amongst them that university is more than a box-ticking exercise.

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

James,

to answer your question, I’m a minarchist. I feel that councils should be abolished altogether. On certain days I’m an anarcho-capitalist, which abolishes all government.

The point was to show that given the analogy proposed (“X is compulsory, so Y should be, for representative purposes”), I showed that Y is not similar to X at all. The idea is to defeat this kind of thinking within the same framework, not to begin from scratch with a classical liberal perspective (which reaches another conclusion again, as Andrew Norton has demonstrated).

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

Robert, just a quick comment on your remark that we (Liberal Students) want VSU to cripple leftist activism.

You implied that if it were spent on liberal causes, compulsory union fees would be safe. The problem with your argument is that Liberal-controlled or influenced student unions haven’t historically spent money directly on campaigning one way or the other. They tend to have a much higher service orientation. The leading example is the University of Sydney Union, a pure service organisation, to the leadership of which Liberal Students and sympathisers are elected with monotonous regularity. It is also one of the most effective and successful student unions in the country, with a VSU strategy in place since 1998.

dk.au
dk.au
2022 years ago

“Isn’t this why Sydney Uni had a separate Union and SRC, with separate fees?”

Well I can tell you that’s the case at Macquarie at the moment, and I would imagine at Sydney too – I’m not sure what Ken is on about there. I’m very happy with the separation of powers at the moment, though don’t get me started on the cronyism and branch-stacking of the Academic Senate though..

Nic White
2022 years ago

Robert, its like that in every WA uni? Im only aware of Curtin’s arrangements.

Robert Merkel
2022 years ago

Jacques, can’t comment on Sydney Uni, but I did keep an eye on student politics at Melbourne Uni and at Swinburne. I knew a fair number of active Liberal students who played the game through the mid 1990’s and into the 2000’s; some remain my friends to this day. Frankly, they would have been more talented administrators than most on the left, but the fact remains that they are ideological warriors. If they got comfy in office I find it very difficult to believe that it wouldn’t start corrupting them. They would have started to use (and ultimately abusing) it for political advocacy of their pet causes.

James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

Jacques, do you really think that whether or not membership of an association is complusory should depend on whether voting is compulsory? I would have thought the first question is more fundamental. If you’re against compulsory associations and governments in general, argue this on its merits.

Those who compare student unions to local councils are not drawing an ‘analogy’, but saying that unions, like councils, supply worthwhile public goods that would be undersupplied in a user-pays system. Opponents will generally play down the importance of these public goods. That’s the issue, and whether voting is complusory is really neither here nor there.

liam hogan
2022 years ago

Student Associations similiar to local councils a spurious analogy, Jacques?
That’s interesting, since John Niland from the AVCC used it before I did.
http://www.avcc.edu.au/archive/news/1999/99mr07.htm
Incidentally, Jacques, you might not remember that when the VSU plan was put into place in 1998, before you started uni, the Sydney Uni Union was run not by Liberals but by the Left.

Ian Thompson
Ian Thompson
2022 years ago

Hey Jacques

I agree with you and think that student amenities fees should be voluntary and i also cannot wait until this is implemented accross all payments, rates, levies and taxes where money is collected for useless community uses. I hope that the liberal’s introduce this across all area’s it will be a win win situation all round.

For example lets start with council rates, i get my rubbish collected fair enough i should pay for it, say $10 a week. I don’t use libraries, the swimming pools, any of the sporting grounds or any other council services so why am i paying any rates at all (should be voluntary), already abt $800 a year better off.

Now lets start on taxes which should also be voluntary, I have never received any payments from centrelink so why am i paying for it? I have never gone to hospital so why is my money being wasted on sick people? I don’t support war so why is my money getting wasted on the defence forces? The list is endless all i can see is universal needless spending of my money so it should also be voluntary.

Now that i am at least $15k a year better off i can continue shovelling more beer and fast food ensuring that i won’t be around to get the pension. Ah the pension why are those old bastards getting money for nothing, geez after working for 40 years you would think they had saved some money by now- bludgers.

Anyway i am getting off track i was already counting all that extra dosh in my sky rocket. Now that we are in little Johnnies user pays for everything world why are HECS fee increases only limited to a maximum of 25% because if you want to study then you PAY, the country wont be any worse off if no one gets any skills qualifications we can just import them in say 20,000 a year batches.

Right on Jacques i am with you brother i can’t wait until he makes not just this stupid amenities fee voluntary but all other taxes and charges. Exciting times ahead in the battle of the survival of the fittest.

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

Some replies.

First, I’ve posted on VSU more generally here:
http://www.gamers-underground.com/forum/showpost.php?p=217412&postcount=104

Robert;

I agree that while Liberals are – speaking generally! – better administrators, the office can and does corrupt their thinking about student unionism. This is the same argument that drove Liberal Students to disrupt National Union of Students conferences for the last few decades. It’s also one of the reasons why I have been reluctant to contest student elections at CDU. I don’t see how we could really fix things without becoming part of the problem. Instead we do our thing independtly. We led a campaign against a union policy that would have crippled clubs and societies, for instance.

James,

I am against both compulsory voting and compulsory unionism. My point is technical: voluntary voting leads to a skewed representation of electorate intentions. Therefore the argument that student unions are fairly “representative” is demonstrably bunk.

I also submit that analogies to council rates remain analogical, no matter who utters them. The pope may declare the world flat if he pleases, but it will remain round.

Liam,

On analogies see above. For lefties starting the VSU plan, in truth the USU has always had a close balance, with the historical bias being clearly conservative. Insofar as individual lefties proposed, embraced and enacted a thoroughly sensible plan, they deserve the highest praise and admiration. The USU will ride VSU out and grow from the strength to strength. The SRC is doomed.

Ian,

Very cute and some of the best sarcasm I’ve come across to date. As a minarchist I closely conform to your crude stereotypes and I look forward eagerly to more irrelevant strawman arguments on your part.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

One small point that bothers me.Student unions train the leaders of the future – it is kiddipolitick which is very useful to the rest of us later on.

What student politics and that disappears. Tell me again where Costello started?

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

David,

The West Australian experience showed that student union politics continues but changes emphasis. Policies change from “revolution!” to “better food!”

Evil Pundit
2022 years ago

I think the best reason for making student unions voluntary is provided by the people who want it kept compulsory.

Leftists defend compulsory unionism because it’s one of their power bases. That is itself a sufficient reason to abolish it.

Marty Redhead
2022 years ago

Ken,

I am the Student Rights Advocate at the Uni (CDU) where you lecture. In the last week or so I have had couple of students approach me because they are concerned about why their sup results haven’t been posted yet. These results are two weeks overdue. I suggested to them that the lecturer responsible was undoubtedly working hard under difficult conditions, given the Federal Government’s inadequate funding for CDU, and that they would surely be out soon and to come and see me again next week if that was not the case. It’s the sort of issue I try to help students with, and advocate on their behalf regarding, everyday at CDU.

Ken, I am not particularly surprised, but I am dissapointed, at your lack of support for the Advocacy role of the Students’ Union.

Dissapointed, because the Students’ Union fully supported staff like you during your recent negotiations with Uni Management on your EBA, even when staff walked out on our members, the students, during your stop work action. Its dissapointing you couldn’t find it in your heart to support the Students’ Union now.

But not surprising, because the advocacy work we do at the Students’ Union is a bit of a headache for lecturers who would prefer to be left to their own devices when dealing with students, and who would, as you seem to be argueing for, be happy if Students’ Unions would leave them alone to do as they pleased.

Ken, the advocacy role of the Students’ Union is the last thing that will go. It is the core of what we do. It is a key amenity that needs to be funded on a universal basis. No one thinks they will have problems with their lecturer until they actually have a problem.

My services are available to all students, but clearly not all students need my services. Even issues which affect many students (administration failures at CDU for example) do not effect everyone. Yet a student cannot predict at the beginning of the year whether or not they will be a victim of CDU maladministraion. So given the random nature of these sorts of problems, and the need for resources to deal with them, a universally funded advocacy program makes sense.

Furthermore, since I advocate for things that benefit all students (such as improved administration), in a voluntary membership environment, non-member “free loaders” would also enjoy the benefits of my advocay that only members had paid for. It hardly makes sense to suggest that I advocate for improved course administration only for members of the Students’ Union and that non-members can receive the existing administrative system.

If you are referring to the Political Advocacy, or Lobbying as most people refer to it, role of what I do, your position makes even less sense. A two year deferment of the 25% increase in HECS fees is an example of a universal benefit to students that the advocacy role of students’ unions has recently acheived. Here in the Territory, lobbying the Labor Government to supplement CDU financially has also been successful. Another universal benefit to students of CDU that it is only fair that students universally support.

Students’ Unions, including this one at CDU, strongly criticised the Howard Governments record on Higher Education at the last election. Given that this is a highly regulated sector, as a peak representative body, that is a standard responsibilty of a body such as ours.

Indeed, the CDUSU was restrained in its political advocacy role at the last Federal Election, not endorsing any particular political party, but confining itself to pointing out that students were worse off under the Howard Government and would be worse off still if Liberals were reelected, and we encouraged people who valued higher education to vote for anyone but Howard. It didn’t work, Howard was reelected and now we see the payback.

Students’ Unions are being singeled out, because we are so clearly and so vocally distresed by what has been done to the Higher Education sector over the past 9 years.

As a result, students will be worse off than ever, having to deal one-on-one with their problems at uni, no anonymity through an advocate, no support, no advice, no one else to turn to. Lecturers who behave innapropriately, administrations that fail at a systemic level, academic qualifications that deliver less and cost more, the list of things that students will no longer enjoy the help I currently offer them is longer than I could put down here, even “little things” like waiting for sup results.

Your suggestion sounds suspiciously like you beleive Students’ Unions should offer “sausage rolls” but not the help that far too many students in our Uni’s actually need. Advocacy is a crucial, and effective, component of that help. The benefits of the advocay are available universally and the benefits are universally enjoyed by students. To suggest that they not be universally supported would make little sense logically or administratively. As I said, I find that dissapointing, but not surprising.

I hope I have misread your position on this matter.

Marty Redhead
Students Rights Advocate
Charles Darwin University Students’ Union
Darwin NT 0909
Phone: (08) 8946 7743
Fax: (08) 8946 7733
http://www.su.cdu.edu.au

I’m here to help, but maybe not for too much longer.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

martin

On a blog you need to read the entire comment thread, not just the primary post. If you’d bothered to do so you would have found that I was suggesting the separation of service provision to students (including counselling and individual student advocacy, medical and child care services, as well as “sausage rolls”) from the more controversial and divisive function of policy advocacy in relation to governments and university central administration. The former could (and should) be funded by compulsory amenities fees, but the latter should certainly be voluntary.

The fact that you seem to think that issues concerning deferral of HECS increases are self-evidently and unarguably correct exemplifies perfectly why this is a role that shouldn’t be performed using funds extracted from students against their will. Your opinions on such matters are not shared by anywhere near everyone, and those who object shouldn’t be forced to have their money devoted to political causes they oppose. It’s fundamentally undemocratic and authoritarian.

James Farrell
James Farrell
2022 years ago

That would be an argument against compulsory membership of trade unions too. But it’s not as simple as that. Most people don’t have much choice but to work for big corporations, which are generally not at all democratic. A closed shop is a device by which workers collectively neutralise some of the power of capital. It is anti-democratic and authoritarian, but it’s a power that can increase the efficacy of industrial action and win workers freedoms vis a vis employers that they wouldn’t otherwise have. Unless you regard some types of freedom as fundamentally better than others, it will depend on a range of circumstances which system leaves workers better off on balance.

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

Martin,

1. Is it wise to garner support amongst lecturers by slagging them off whenever they don’t immediately and completely agree with your position?

2. “a student cannot predict at the beginning of the year whether or not they will be a victim of CDU maladministraion”. I would disagree. The test is simple: “Have you applied for enrollment”. Furthermore I observe that the Student Union’s achievements in improving outcomes in this area, on a system-wide basis, are very nearly zero. I regularly discuss politics with a lot of people who have quit university due to administrative snafus. Yes, I did advise them to see your predecessors. They got little out of it, even with compulsory universal membership.

3. “given the random nature of these sorts of problems, and the need for resources to deal with them, a universally funded advocacy program makes sense.”

Ken is agreeing with you, but he draws the line at attaching this service to compulsory membership of politically active organisations. There is nothing in the upcoming legislation which will prevent Universities from funding internal advocacy offices. When I studied at the University of Sydney the Disabilities Support Office had the power to compel concessions in my favour, and they did so on my behalf. Neither the USU or the SRC came into it. The model is scalable to any matter.

4. For free loaders, see my answer in 3., though more generally free loaders may easily be excluded from large parts of Union activity, including the advocacy function which you have emphasised as being central.

5. You are not alone in lobbying efforts. The Student Union was not responsible for securing the Band IV Remote Campus Loading of 30% per student, David Tollner and Nigel Scullion were. The original undertaking not to raise fees, given by Vice Chancellor McKinnon, was reached on this basis. It was broken by current Vice Chancellor Garner. I know that the Minister’s office was unhappy when this was brought to their attention by – you guessed it – David Tollner and Nigel Scullion. Maybe if you had worked with them, instead of actively campaigning against them at every opportunity, they might look on your situation with more sympthy.

6. Latham’s education policy had extensive costing errors, which would led to a recuction in funding to CDU of several million dollars. This error was never corrected during the campaign. The Student Union’s advertisement was a blatant and offensive waste of student money. You’d be as offended if I’d printed posters of Latham with devil’s horns and a beard using Union money. Show some spine and principle.

7. If benefits are universally attractive, they will be universally taken up. It has been seen in industrial relations that Unions which have provided useful and relevant services to their members at a low price have flourished. The SDA is a leading example and many of my friends – including Liberal Club members – have taken up membership because they feel that the union offers them good value for their limited dollars. The fact that most students don’t see value for their money today derives directly from the fact that they are unable to fairly and directly make that value choice.

Jacques Chester
President, University Liberal Club
All Round Good Guy
>

I’ll be here for the interests of students – which is Liberalism – for the rest of my life.

Ian
Ian
2022 years ago

Jacques

Given how many years it has taken you to progress to a second year law student , the last 6 words of your post are probably the most sensible thing in your entire spiel.

As you already know you, being a member of the student union is not compulsory, it is in fact the amenities fee itself that is compulsory.

Given the fact that you will still be completing you law degree when hayleys comet next comes around again , i would have thought you would have given more consideration to what amenities you will be able to access from the imaginary “universal funding pool”

Perhaps you should give consideration to trying something a little easier and stack shelves with your mates at SDA.

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

Ian,

Thanks for your remarks.

I studied law part time for several years, which makes it hard to say if I am truly “second” or “third” year. At a part-time rate, a straight law degree from CDU is an 8 year course.

This year I am fulltime, because I’d like to see Haley’s Comet as a graduate.

sam
sam
2022 years ago

I dont care for the intellectual argument. My position is simple, at CDU ive paid (or owe in part) four years of “amenities fees”(thousands of dollars). Not to mention the debt collecting fees which have now been added on. I have studied at another university and occassionally the student union there would organise a good event (not worth my $250 but enough to make me feel not completely ripped off), at CDU I have recieved nothing, not even a sausage roll. From what ive seen it appears my money here is spent on “the union social club” their political activities and their end of year, invite only, free piss up at the cassino. None of which interests me but i need to get a degree. pretty crappy.

Chris O'Neill
Chris O'Neill
2022 years ago

It’s ironic that the actions of the Whitlam Labor government when they “abolished” university fees have now led to laws against compulsory union fees.

The history of this was that in 1974 the Whitlam government replaced scholarships with direct funding of universities and supposedly made uni “free” for students. For reasons best known to themselves, the Whitlam government wouldn’t pay student union fees which were previously covered by scholarships. People like Brendan Nelson, Costello etc were students at or soon after that time and this change would have pissed them off mightily.

The Whitlam government liked to pontificate about how uni entrance should be based solely on academic merit when effectively that was the situation anyway, unless you wanted to get a second degree at the same level which seemed like a reasonable exclusion to me. But Whitlam liked to ride his idealogical high horse.

So the seeds that Whitlam sowed are now being reaped. I wonder if anyone in the Labor opposition realizes that.