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OPINION: Melbourne Student Forum must amplify student voices, not undermine them.

The University of Melbourne has announced the establishment of a new Melbourne Student Forum (MSF), which is intended to be a focus group that will listen to student voices. However, the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) has expressed concern about the MSF and its potential impact on student representation and democracy at the University.

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The University of Melbourne has announced the establishment of a new Melbourne Student Forum (MSF), which is intended to be a focus group that will listen to student voices. The MSF is a university-led process and is aimed at engaging with students to better understand their experiences and perspectives. However, the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) has expressed concern about the MSF and its potential impact on student representation and democracy at the University.

 

As a well-established democratic representative body with over 55,000 members and 100 democratically elected student representatives, UMSU believes that it is the only legitimate voice of students at the University of Melbourne. UMSU welcomes any efforts made by the University to engage with students but understands that the MSF has no application to all significant decisions and consultation at the University. UMSU is concerned that the establishment of the MSF may be part of a wider move in the tertiary sector to displace democratically elected student representation.

 

UMSU believes that the MSF has the potential to undermine the voice of students instead of amplifying them. As a university-initiated and led process, it may be used in ways that displace student-led initiatives. UMSU believes that this is against the “students as partners” model that the University has previously put forward. UMSU calls upon the University to unequivocally state its respect for student democracy at the University of Melbourne and its willingness to partner with UMSU to elevate the voices of students.

 

The concerns raised by UMSU are valid and should be taken seriously by the University. Student representation and democracy are important values that need to be upheld and respected by all institutions. The University should be working to strengthen student representation, not undermine it.

 

UMSU has made several recommendations that the University should consider. Firstly, the University should ensure that student democracy is respected and maintained at the University of Melbourne. This includes working with UMSU to ensure that students have a genuine say in the decision-making processes that affect their lives.

 

Secondly, the University should enhance existing structures that are genuinely student-led. There are already existing structures in place that provide opportunities for students to engage with the University and have their voices heard. The University should work with UMSU to strengthen these structures and ensure that they are genuinely student-led.

 

Thirdly, the University should consolidate or complement the MSF with existing structures to provide genuine student-university partnerships. The MSF should not be a replacement for existing student-led initiatives, but rather a complement to them. The University should work with UMSU to ensure that the MSF does not undermine existing student representation structures.

 

Finally, the University should prevent any moves to displace democratically elected student representation and ensure that UMSU remains the legitimate voice of students at the University of Melbourne. The University should work with UMSU to strengthen and support student representation, not undermine it.

 

The concerns raised by UMSU regarding the establishment of the Melbourne Student Forum (MSF) are valid and should be taken seriously by the University of Melbourne. Student representation and democracy are important values that need to be upheld and respected by all institutions. The University should work with UMSU to strengthen and support student representation and ensure that students have a genuine say in the decision-making processes that affect their university experience.

 

Therefore, it is crucial that students attend the UMSU Assemblies — such as our recent workshops on access to and the quality of education, and our upcoming Southbank Session — to have their voices heard and to participate in the democratic process. Through collective action, students can have a meaningful impact on decision-making at the University. As students, it is our responsibility to ensure that our voices are heard and that our rights are protected. Let us work together to strengthen student representation and democracy at the University of Melbourne.

 

Southbank Session. Quality and Access. 29 March, 11am-1pm at Fed Hall, Southbank.

 

RSVP to the Facebook event for the latest speaker announcements!

FB Event: https://fb.me/e/IEU3Vdyn

More info: https://umsu.unimelb.edu.au/student-powered/

 

 

 

 

 
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