Down with VSU

31 March 2005

Mike Poutney has the VSU thing all wrong. There is simply no ‘choice’ for students under Voluntary Student unionism. His ideal world can be summarized thus: degree factory.

The fact is that the Union is the heart of University life. O-week activities, the student paper Farrago and Union House Theatre are all brought to you by your Student Union and therefore are under threat from VSU. There is simply no way that organisations like Clubs and Societies will survive without Union funding. VSU is the death knell of student cultural, political and social life on campus. The reality in WA (just ignore Mike’s word gymnastics) was that nearly all of the Union services were decimated. Ask anyone from WA and they’ll tell you: the effect on student life was devastating.

Now, you may say, just because John Howard wasn’t much of a thespian at Uni shouldn’t make him this vindictive toward Student Unions, right? Well, yes, there is a bigger agenda here. Remember all those students yelling and screaming at the 25% HECS increase last year? Yep, our Union helped to organise them. The biggest demonstration ever against the war on Iraq was full of students that have been involved in the Union. The struggle in solidarity against apartheid in South Africa was coordinated out of the Union. Think back further to the psychedelic days of the sixties where students burnt their draft cards and, oh, just helped stop the Vietnam War. The Student Union has been at the forefront of lots of progressive movements over its 150 year history, and plenty of them have brought the union into DIRECT conflict with the governments of the day. Any wonder Howard wants to shut us up…

The bottom line is: do you think students should have a voice or not? Howard is not our new best friend (he has, I will remind you, launched some of the most savage attacks not just on higher education, but Iraq too!) Liberal students still remain a bizarre anomaly to me. So ambitious, and yet so lacking in any imagination that the world could possibly be a better place. Anyone who thinks the Liberal party is leading us to a better future needs their head checked, not a full page article if Farrago. Pipe down Poutney, so we can get on with trying to build a better world!

Come to the National Day of Action against VSU April 28 for a national day of outrage against the Liberals’ attachs on unions and education. Defend our Student Union!

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