Letter to the Editor8 December 2020
Letter to the Editors
The Students’ Council of the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) is broken. It no longer serves students and instead addresses the personal grievances of a small group of people who zealously attempt to enact their personal ideologies. I have been the 2020 Education (Academic Affairs) Officer of UMSU in 2020, and have been involved with the internal function of UMSU and have worked on critical UMSU policy and advocacy. About every two weeks during this year, I have been required to attend often shambolic meetings of UMSU’s Students Council. Most meetings are of the length of about 2 hours and sometimes go for much longer, but not for the right reasons.
It has been a difficult year for student unions around the country, with corruption allegations at La Trobe Student Union and the imminent closure of the entire Theatre program at Monash University. International students are more often exposed to racial attacks in public, and face steep fees for a decreased quality of education. Many students face a depressed job outlook, unhelped by the cuts to staff that are delivering reduced academic resources to students, and lower UMSU funding that restricts the ability of UMSU to deliver important assistance and advocacy.
Yet, recently, Students’ Council has chosen to focus on irrelevant and inconsequential questions, such as the internal problems of unrelated trade unions; whether entire countries are racist; whether political parties are homophobic. And it has spent many, many hours pursuing the Media Department over whether their printing company is unionised, a mortal sin that other departments of UMSU have apparently committed with the same printing company in the past. Councillors are always met with ridicule and vicious attacks for daring to disagree with controversial motions. Other times councillors are called racist for following legal advice on the operation of the UMSU Election, despite there being genuine instances of the undermining of Indigenous rights.
This is ridiculous, and those involved need to pull their heads in. The purpose of UMSU is to advocate for student interests, not personal or political ideology. I urge councillors to disallow motions irrelevant to students and for those in the bubble to use civil mediation over vitriol and insults.
Joshua Munro 2020 UMSU Education Academic Officer