Friday, August 26, 2005

The VSU Debate for Dummies

  • Brendan Nelson wants to introduce Voluntary Student Unionism.

More accurately, Brendan Nelson wants to abolish what he considers to be compulsory student unionism.

  • Student representatives are fearful that such a move will endanger student services including child-care and sporting clubs.
More accurately, student representatives are fearful that such a move would make their current positions redundant and lead to the rise in the price of beer on campus taverns. Or worse still, lead to the closure of campus taverns.

  • Kim Beazley has proposed an alternative to VSU in the form of an 'amenities fee', payable by all students for maintaining the provision of services on campuses.

More accurately, Kim Beazley has proposed a change in the name of compulsory student union fees, to compulsory student amenities fees.

  • Barnaby Joyce has supported, in principle, the opposition's proposal as a preferable alternative to the government's model.

More accurately, Barnaby Joyce is keen to show that he is still capable of standing up to the government after caving in over the Telstra sell-off deal.

  • Brendan Nelson states that the Joyce-supported, opposition proposal is flawed because many students will end up paying for services that they will not require.

More accurately, Brendan Nelson's argument is a crock-of-shit. Many people pay taxes, levies and duties that provide for services that they don't use, why should students be any different?


A Possible Solution to appease all:

This observer thinks that it all comes down to semantics.

The government is ideologically opposed to all forms of unionism, especially compulsory unionism. Hence the desire to abolish compulsory student unionism.

Student unionism is a far cry from the forms of unionism that the government is opposed to. In fact, the word 'union' is one of the few similarities that student unions share with woker's unions.

The oppostion's proposal is basic, yet sound. By removing the offending 'u-word' from the equation, surely the fee becomes a lot more palatable for the government.

Some campuses already operate under the scheme proposed by the opposition. At Curtin for instance, students are required to pay an annual 'amenities fee', which also grants them guild membership. While the fee is compulsory, membership of the guild is not.

If Brendan Nelson doesn't like the idea because it means students will end up paying for services that they won't use, then perhaps a further name change is required.

As far as I'm aware, the government is not ideologically opposed to the provision of services from revenue raised via taxation, levies and duties. So why not impose a duty on all tertiary students to cover the cost of campus services?

It could be called the Tertiary Education Duty, or TED for short. It could even be taken one step further, with full-time students paying a 'Big TED' (pictured), while part-time students are only required to pay a 'Little TED'.

Big Ted
Problem solved. Queue the music...

There's a bear in there
And a chair as well

There are people with games

And stories to tell
Open wide

Come inside

It's university...


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