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The Forum > Article Comments > The case against compulsory student unionism > Comments

The case against compulsory student unionism : Comments

By Alistair Campbell, published 16/6/2005

Alistair Campbell argues students will be better off under proposed voluntary unionism legislation.

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student unions bring benefit to whole communities, in ways that are not often noted - especially in regional areas.

i have studied at two regional universities, and one of the most important things that the union provides is entertainment - such as that of touring musicians. without unions subsidising the costs of some of the bigger bands travelling through out australia, smaller areas would be unlikely to ever get exposure to this level of live music. then there are other cultural things, such as watt space - the student gallery at the university of newcastle. the union pays for 2/3 of the gallery's costs. the gallery gives a valuable voice and training ground to art practioners from across the uni sector. it also adds to the social and cultural currency of the entire novocastrian art scene.

student papers give students a voice, and experience - which leads them into jobs. sporting groups, and subsidised gym membership make fitness and those social activites accessible. other social groups - like the philosophy club - give people a chance to come together for free debate, and this exchange of ideas is one of the many strengths of universities.

there is so much benefit from unions - and whole communities see the effects. to bottle it down to subsidised food costs it just simplistic and unrealistic. individuals might not use all services, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be there. councils provide public toilets. i might not use them much, but i wouldn't want them taken away...
Posted by Suse, Saturday, 18 June 2005 1:01:17 PM
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The idea of subsidised food on campus is outrageous. I'm involved heavily here at Adelaide Uni and we actually make a profit from food (ie no subsidies).

I'm a big proponent of VSU. There are many arguments like 'VSU will cost jobs', 'Student Unions help the broader community', Uni Sport will die under VSU' etc.

Whatever your feelings about these issues are it all comes back to the fact that every student is compelled to pay flat fee whether or not they access any services. If the students don't want those services those jobs that will be lost shouldn't exist.

Sure the Left claim its all about Liberal Party ideology and it is -- if students want student unions to exist they will. In that sence, VSU is not anti-union.
Posted by tooRight, Monday, 20 June 2005 1:21:57 PM
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I was involved in a public debate about VSU at the University of New South Wales organised by the student guild. The CSU side argued that students are responsible adults and don't need governments telling them how to run their organisations. My reply was, "Exactly! Students can make there own choices and don't need unions to tell them how to spend their own money."
Posted by mykah, Monday, 20 June 2005 5:14:07 PM
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When I see proponents of VSU (especially young liberals) actively supporting low socio economic students, Indigenous students, gay students and others they abhor Ė and especially when student services no longer exist -- then I'll believe they actually do believe in true liberalism. So what characteristics does one have to have to join Young Liberals on campus? (Besides a bad haircut) Follow this link and donít say I didnít warn you: http://www.alsf.org.au/alsf/committee.asp
Posted by Rainier, Monday, 20 June 2005 6:11:09 PM
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Young Alistair wrote:
"Recent evidence shows it has not been the case. Melbourne University, which had revenue of $14 million, recently went into bankruptcy. Without professionals looking over the funds it is obvious that students cannot be trusted with these large amounts of money. The mismanagement at Melbourne University confirms this."

I think he should check copy with Julian Barendse President of the Melbourne University Liberal Club as well as being.....wait for it...

"the current Vice-President of the Melbourne University Student Union"

oh dear...
Posted by Rainier, Monday, 20 June 2005 6:19:42 PM
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There is absolutely nothing wrong with a conservative or Liberal being the vice-president of a student union. They were, after all, elected!

I reiterate, being pro-VSU and a conservative is not neccessarily anti-student union, merely anti-'the way they are run at the moment'.

Take Adelaide Uni for example. The VP there was elected by the Board on a coin toss (vote was 10-10). In this position he is also the Finance Commitee Chair in-charge of the budgets for the 2006 -- he year of VSU. He is working his backside off making sure the union survives under VSU. Tis works in his favour. He can work hard to make it survive, but in the form he wants. Ie little to no money spent on political campaigns and the SRC and Union Board Electoral reforms.

Great bloke to boot. He's constantly in trouble, beginning with a pro-VSU article he wrote published in The Australian in December.
Posted by tooRight, Monday, 20 June 2005 8:30:39 PM
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