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The Forum > Article Comments > In defence of student unions > Comments

In defence of student unions : Comments

By Ronan Lee and Jess Pugh, published 14/7/2005

Ronan Lee and Jess Pugh argue in favour of compulsory student unionism.

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There is a very simple reason why student unionism should be voluntary. Student unions are like associations that provide services. However, they have another side and that is a political left leaning connected to the Labor Party. Those who value the work of student unions are perfectly free to join them as they should be. But it needs to be a choice thing. If you want to join, then do so. If you don't want to join, then don't join.

Proponents of compulsory student unions don't like choice so they come up with all sorts of reasons to justify denying students the right to choose.
Posted by Sniggid, Thursday, 14 July 2005 12:42:39 PM
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And if you don't join, those who want to will be left with nothing worth joining. Economies of scale. Read Garrett Hardin on "The Tragedy of the Commons". People will naturally try to get things which have to be paid for, for nothing. And if enough try to get a free ride, then these things can't be paid for, and will be lost to all. Cheap drinks. Free dentistry. On-site child care. Housing office, and lots more. These things need wide acceptance of a fairly trifling fee before they can be viable. Sort of like social clubs without the pokie revenue. Or health insurance without that bloody silly 30 per cent rebate.
Posted by anomie, Thursday, 14 July 2005 3:04:50 PM
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Excuse me, but my yearly income is around $5500. The Sydney uni union fee is nearly 10% of this. I cannot even afford to have a swim at the Sydney Uni Aquatic Centre (even though I pay compulsory sports union fees), so I am forced to swim in the murky waters of the privately run Victoria park pool which is cheaper even though it isn't subsidised, go figure! Meanwhile, all the rowers, tennis players, water polo players (who traditionally come from private schools) make use all the lovely University facilities that my poor ass subsidises. I wonder why I don't walk around campus with MUG written on my forehead. I am not a bloody philanthropist.

How can you possibly wonder why I support VSU?
Posted by strayan, Thursday, 14 July 2005 5:55:37 PM
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I agree with compulsory student unionism, especially for the services it provides for students. Services that would otherwise not be available.

However, I also feel student unions also manifest an elitism in student politics that sees the worst from both sides of the political fence.

Ronan Lee entered politics through student unionism so its no surprise to me that he should join Jess Pugh is writing this unexceptional piece on VSU.

If the Labor party current branch stacking, secretive and incestuous culture is anything to go by, I'm left wondering to what extent this call for compulsory student unionism by Lee is motivated by his own party loyalty to retain to access to - and retain - this same culture in university unions.

My support of CSU is not because I want to see yet more uninspiring and dull young Laborites like Lee getting into parliament via the Labor partyís dysfunctional branch stacking regimes.

Yes! lets have compulsory unionism on university campuses but lets also limit the way in which these unions are co-opted by Major parties.
If student unionism is a focus on providing much needed services to students, let them be just that. They should not be uncumbators and a training ground for aspiring Labor or Liberal machine men/women aka, career politicians
Posted by Rainier, Thursday, 14 July 2005 10:14:03 PM
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"Studying for a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Queensland, Michael will rely on his student union to help him find a share house near to the university, he will look for part-time work with the help of the unionís employment service...."

The University of Queensland provides its own accomodation services website (http://www.accommodation.uq.edu.au/). Other services such as counselling, financial assistance, employment, grievance procedures, disability support, and international student support, are provided by Student Support Services (http://www.sss.uq.edu.au).

To my knowledge, neither of these services are affiliated with the Student Union or paid for by compulsory union fees.

In my opinion, the only 'essential' service which the unions provide is clubs and socs. Although it definitely is not worth paying $300/year plus club membership fees to join them.
Posted by jimar, Thursday, 14 July 2005 10:18:02 PM
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When I was 18 years old I left my parents home in the country and moved 600km to the city to attend university. I lived on a modest income. I resented the student union fee every year that I was at University. It was a hinderence not a help.

Free association should mean free to sit this one out. Free to not join in. Free to exclude yourself from both the benefits and the costs. Free to make your own decisions about what is good for you. Free to not pay for other peoples propoganda. Free to say "up yours" to people who try and impose their will apon your time, money and life.

Abolish the bastard of a tax
Posted by Terje, Friday, 15 July 2005 9:28:11 PM
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