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We don’t care what your personal beliefs are: USU Stamps out Voluntary Student Unionism

We don’t care what your personal beliefs are: USU Stamps out Voluntary Student Unionism

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‘Suck it up, it’s in the regulations,’ said current board director Liv Ronan.

Prospective Union Board candidates have been told that, despite their personal beliefs, they are not allowed to bring Voluntary Student Unionism to USyd.

Did you know there’s such a thing called the University of Sydney Union? You probably didn’t. Well, did you know you have to be a part of it? And pay fees each year? This is called compulsory student unionism ­– it means you have to be a member of USyd’s Union, whether you like it or not.

On Wednesday 13th April, an ‘Ethics’ meeting was held for prospective Union Board candidates. During this meeting they were told they must be proponents of compulsory student unionism.

‘Suck it up, it’s in the regulations,’ said current board director Liv Ronan.

Voluntary Student Unionism is allowing students to decide for themselves whether they want to join the Union and enjoy its benefits. However, the hostility to this policy from the Union is off the scale.

VSU scares the Union because compulsory student unionism raises $8.4 million a year.

Whilst Union Board candidates can campaign on a platform of Voluntary Student Unionism, “despite their personal beliefs” they must not support it if they become a board director according to Liv. In fact, according to the Union’s Regulations and Directors’ Duty Statements, directors must ‘spread the message’ about how bad Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) is, and they’re even obliged to campaign against it.

union constitution

VSU scares the Union because compulsory student unionism raises $8.4 million a year. It’s spent on all manner of things, including paying your representatives on Union Board (did you know you had them?) and funds the multitude of campus clubs (if you happen to be involved in any).

The heavy handed stance on VSU does not give Union Board Directors the freedom they deserve. If a candidate was elected on a platform of Voluntary Student Unionism, they would simply not be allowed to deliver. It wouldn’t matter if hundreds of students voted them in on this basis – they could not support VSU.

Such provisions for compulsory student unionism must be removed, and elected directors should be allowed to bring any policy changes they wish.

But until then, the Union doesn’t care what your personal beliefs are – you’ll just have to suck it up.

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