I don’t seem to be able to go 50 metres anywhere on campus without seeing some anti-VSU (Voluntary Student Unionism) propaganda. The thing I don’t understand is how the union hopes to convince students that they should be required by law to pay whatever fees the union sets. This is a far bigger ask than simply championing the value of being a union member. They are asking for a blank cheque from all current and future students. It’s a notion that I can only positively describe as “ballsy” and pessimistically describe as “condescending”.
If there is an ethical argument for CSU (Compulsory Student Unionism) I would really like to hear it. This website has a number of links to both sides of the argument. The most important link is probably the one to the who can you trust page that details the interests of the groups involved. The major arguments against VSU have nothing to do with the concept and everything to do with practicality: where will the funding come from? Well, that’s an entirely different issue.
In the end, I admit that my personal view on the union’s campaign is right on the line. I’m just not sure if I sit on the “you can’t blame them for trying” or the “they should really know better” side of things. My view on “where the funding should come from” is more cut and dry. I strongly feel that any required services should be funded by government. Student fees are a barrier to university entry and undermine a basic right to education.
2 thoughts on “VSU ramblings”
The campaign at UWA involved shutting down the only parts of the guild (catering) that you can be sure will stay whether VSU goes federal or not.
Catering makes money and the important parts of the guild use that money (plus the money we pay as an amenities fees).
I admit I was ignorant before I went and found out exactly what the deal was from the guild information officer. I didn’t realise that the guild provides counsellors, legal services, campus loans.
I guess the only people who would notice *them* missing for a day would be the people who really need the help.
Anyway, so I initially had the same feelings as you Nick, I felt the campaign at UWA was condescending, but after talking to a few undergraduate students about it, it turns out that (as students) we just don’t know enough about the guild, its operations, and their bottom line. As a result, I think everybody should pay so that we don’t lose the important services that a student union provides.
Note that just because I think everyone should pay doesn’t mean I support compulsory student unionism, I just think everybody should join.
The big question is: how do you get lazy, apathetic, and cheap students to join?
Encouraging membership is completely different to campaigning to remove choice in the matter. I’m entirely for the former, and against the latter.
I also cannot see how a campaign based on the premise that people should not be given a choice, because they will make the wrong one, is *not* condescending.
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