Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Act now to block the VSU bill

In the next two weeks the Howard Government wants to pass a law that will drastically cut services on university campuses around the country -- services used by the whole community, like childcare, health services and sporting facilities.

It's not too late to take action. Some Howard Government members are mounting a last minute effort to block the voluntary student unionism (VSU) bill before it becomes law. These MPs need to know they are not alone.

Sign the letter of support to ask these parliamentarians to stay strong and block this bill. To back up the letter GetUp has also produced a television ad asking MPs to vote against this radical bill. This ad is already on air in Lismore and Townsville.

Sign the letter now! We have 10 signatures.

Dear: Greg Hunt MP, Ian Causley MP, Kay Hull MP, Paul Neville MP, Peter Lindsay MP, Senator Alan Eggleston, Senator Barnaby Joyce, Senator Fiona Nash, Senator Nigel Scullion and Senator Russell Trood

The Government's VSU bill will attack services in local communities across the country. We urge you to stay strong and block this bill. Thousands of Australians are behind you.

Photo: Australian Greens

Voluntary student unionism: SA UTS

What Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) basically means is that students will have the choice about whether they pay their membership to the Students Association. The rhetoric behind this argument is based in some ideal of choice, where the Liberal Government argues that students should exercise their freedom of association and therefore should be able to have the right to choose whether they want to join the student organisation on campus.

This rhetoric of freedom of choice is a farce as a university that does not have equitable access or sufficient resources effectively decrease students' choices. The Students Association is the only space on campus where students can defend their rights independently of the whims of the university management. Having such an organisation provides students with choices, as without this we would not have the ability fight for campus conditions and regressive government policies, which directly inhibit students ability to access higher education and other social "privileges".

What would life be with VSU?

If students had the choice over whether or not to join, student organisations would be dramatically under-funded and the kind of work that we are able to do know, like provide an active voice for students to voice their dissent, would be obsolete. The fact is, the small membership fee, in practical terms, is nothing compared to what you would be paying to the university administration if student organisations did not exist. Through the Students Association, students ran a campaign against the proposal of UTS management to introduce upfront fees for undergraduate students. Students won the campaign, with management forced to back down with a student occupation. Through the Students Association, women, queer and ethno-cultural students are provided with a space through which they can fight the discrimination they face through society.

It may seem that having choice about your membership of a Student's Association is a good thing but in reality, having voluntary membership actually inhibits the choices of others, including access to university and the quality of education we receive.

Without student organisations to actively fight government attacks on higher education, students, and the community, would not be able to resource a voice of dissent against regressive policies. All government funding cuts to universities would proceed with hardly any dissent. The privatisation of university, while existing very concretely today, would be in full bloom. Universities would probably be more heavily privatised. This is not to say that such phenomenon does not exist widely today, but the deterioration of government funded education would be occurring probably more quickly and broadly, and worse still, without no dissent being voiced about it.

Further, student organisations do not exist in a vacuum, just as the funding cuts do not occur in a vacuum. While we fight for real gains on a campus level, we also understand that cuts to campus occur concurrently to cuts to other social sectors as health, and women's organisations. Fighting for gains on the campus level always occurs with an understanding of the regressive policies that are part of the wider ideology of the Liberal Government. Therefore, when we argue for a better quality education we also argue for an end to sexual harassment on and off campus, for the rights of indigenous people and the rights of queer people. Discrimination that occurs off campus also occurs on campus, as UTS is not an institution existing in isolation from the rest of society.

The Students Association is more than an active and open organisation that fights for campus conditions. Further, it is the only independent space on campus that can act as a student voice. For example, academic appeals are an important function of the Students Association whereby we try to fight for students' rights in their degrees.

How do you get involved in the Students' Association?

Having an active Students Association on campus, with maximum involvement of all students means that we can grow stronger and make real gains at a campus and societal level. Getting involved is easy, you can come along to a collective meeting, or drop by in the office and say hi.

''Voluntary Student Unionism''

As university students across Australia begin classes this week, they will find out that practically everything at university other than their lectures may not exist by the end of the year. From academic advocacy and support, childcare and health services, to food outlets and sporting teams, university life as we know it is under threat.

The Greens Position:

The Greens believe a responsible government should foster a strong, vibrant, top-quality public education system that is fee free from preschool to university.

Public Education

Now that the Howard government has been re-elected, we must all do what we can do oppose attacks on public education and higher education.

Kerry has spoken frequently in parliament defending public schools and universities.

The Greens

Action for Australia

So you better:

Get up, stand up! (in the morning! git it up!)
Stand up for your rights! (stand up for our rights!) Get up, stand up! Don't give up the fight! (don't give it up, don't give it up!) Get up, stand up! (get up, stand up!) Stand up for your rights! (get up, stand up!)
Get up, stand up! ( ... )
Don't give up the fight!
(get up, stand up!)
Get up, stand up! ( ... )
Stand up for your rights!

Get up, stand up!
Don't give up the fight!

Related Audio:

By GetUp! 24 August 2005