EduFactory! is a grassroots, student-run education conference being held on Ngunnawal country in Canberra at the Australian National University from September 29 – October 1, 2012 | The 2012 Strike in Québec: Full Report, crimethInc, August 14, 2012 | Crisis in the Academy, Sarah Kendzior, August 30, 2012.
On Sunday, students at La Trobe University forced the Vice Chancellor, Paul Dewar, into a cupboard. The clever VC managed to escape his prison, however, via a series of underground tunnels, and later emerged — blinking — into the media spotlight, in which glare he declared that those responsible for his humiliation would be disciplined and that the University fully intends to proceed with the disemboweling of its Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
The rationale for the cuts is that the Faculty is failing to generate sufficient income for the University, and less profitable courses should, in principle, be abolished. Of course, on a corporate level the business remains a profitable one, having an overall surplus of $22.9 million at the end of 2011 (PDF).
The Bun Fight over the future of the Faculty continues at The Conversation where, inter alia, Dewar bemoans the fact that students freely roamed the campus rather than chose to remain in the pen he’d demanded — on pain of expulsion — they confine themselves to, peddles the usual blah about the ability of students (and staff) to determine University policy through reason alone, and ultimately shifts the blame for the cuts onto students, arguing that The Market is the ultimate arbiter of educational values — and if a student wants to learn about, say, religion, they can simply become a customer at another institution.
Heady stuff from someone reportedly receiving a salary in excess of $700,000 (about 0.1% of the population).
See also : “Come get it!” Security guard assaults student at La Trobe (August 26, 2012) | Dear La Trobe student, Protest is baaad. Get it? (August 22, 2012).
At Monash University, the battle to save Wholefoods from destruction by Monash Labor continues to trundle along like some slow-moving herbivore. ‘Will no one rid us of these turbulent vegetarians?’ the Monash Student Association (MSA) Executive must be asking itself.
Similar questions will be posed of the fraction of the student body that will actually bother to vote in the MSA election in a few weeks. The election has produced the usual silliness: a hack has registered a ticket under the name of ‘Save Wholefoods’, presumably in the hope that the handful of students who want to save Wholefoods but don’t realise that ‘Save Wholefoods’ is a feeder ticket will halp re-elect the students responsible for its destruction.
The student who’s registered the ticket — Sheldon Oski — has form. In 2010:
[Liberal Party President Ben] Kunstler told Crikey that an email normally sent to advise of the looming re-registration period, that enables the previous year’s tickets to keep their names, failed to appear this year. He claims that with their opponents in the dark, O’Dwyer and offsider Sheldon Oski helped themselves to names including ‘Liberal’, ‘Clayton Jewish Students’, ‘Connect’, ‘Unity’, ‘Free Parking’ and ‘Pirates Rrrrr Us’ in an attempt to dupe voters via a preference scam.
At the end of the registration period, only the Labor Left and Trotskyite cult Socialist Alternative held tickets, with independent, Labor Right and grassroots left groupings denied representation.
Kunstler said: “Go! is always very nervous when it comes to ensuring their control for another year. They have shown themselves willing to use plenty of dirty tactics in the past and have been taken to court in previous years for their behaviour.”
The running of dummy candidates and tickets is of course stock-standard procedure at student union elections. Perhaps the most (in)famous example of rorting occurred at the University of Melbourne in the early noughties when Labor hack Darren Ray presided over the bankruptcy of the union (Ray was later jailed for fraud in an unrelated case).
On the whole, student unions continue to provide excellent career and business opportunities for aspiring managers.
In sunny Queensland, students at UQ have been complaining that tricksy Tory students have been using their union like it was some kinda romper room. Normally just a background smell, recently the stench of corruption at UQ has gotten so bad that the young reactionaries have been forced to issue a bland assurance that I’m OK, You’re OK; the available evidence, however, would suggest that their tomfoolery has become too much — not only for some students, but even University authorities (UQ shines spotlight on student union activity, Andrew Fraser, The Australian, August 29, 2012). Their decision to conduct an audit of the union:
…comes after changes were made to the election process for the student union, whereby a team that has run for the past few years under the name Pulse found the name had been “pinched” when it tried to reregister the name for the upcoming election. Instead, Pulse had a new list of candidates close to the ruling Fresh team when it tried to register its name.
Members of Pulse complained they did not know of the changes that had been deliberately concealed from them at a student union meeting on August 10.
The Fresh team is based on the campus colleges and members of the Liberal National Party, while the Pulse team is a broad Left ticket which has ALP and Green members. But both tickets also have many members who are not aligned with any political party.
On Wednesday, August 29, several hundred students protested the election rigging. Graeme Orr, Professor of Law at UQ, provides a useful explanatory framework in an interview (August 23, 2012) with ABC Brisbane here.