The following article is an opinion piece.The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the Dircksey Editor(s), Edith Cowan University or the Edith Cowan University Student Guild.
By Samantha-Jane Rose – Former Queer Officer at ECU Queer Collective, Women’s Officer at ECU Women’s Community and alleged conspirator in the great 2017 liberal coup
This year has been a tumultuous year, but also a watershed moment for the student guild, here, at Edith Cowan University. When members of the group known by varying names, won approximately two thirds of the vote in student elections and a commanding position in the senate and among office bearers. What should have been a stable student government given the decisive majorities held by said ticket, quickly devolved into a dysfunctional student guild with an acrimonious relationship with guild staff who are there to do their jobs, the resulting crisis gravely damaged ability of the guild to provide services to students and to fulfil its role as a student body and the ultimate losers in this contest were the students themselves.
The conduct of many elected representatives from that particular ticket was frankly, in my opinion, disgusting.
The way the student constituency was treated, along with staff members employed by the student guild was nothing short of disgraceful. The cynical way in which quorum was denied at multiple Special General Meetings which were petitioned for by students, themselves, was absolutely reprehensible.
I want to make it absolutely clear that students were treated with contempt, some showed up on multiple occasions, only to have their time wasted. We all had responsibilities and our own academic commitments, and little concern was shown towards this by the elected student body.
The resulting chaos meant that clubs from various departments either struggled to get their funding, or couldn’t get their funding at all. It was this completely unacceptable situation, so easily rectified, yet ignored which was a major factor for the numerous attempts at Special General Meetings to resolve the issue of elected senators and representatives who had failed to fulfil the duties they were elected to do.
It is quite acceptable to point out that a student union, which is precisely what the student guild is, is a student body that should be fighting for the rights and conditions of students. I not only agree with this, I wholeheartedly support it. But that is not all that a student guild is, it is not an entity which exists solely to fight the Coalition government that we all despise for their callousness and cruelty, it is an organization that exists to provide basic services and improvements to the everyday lives of students on their campus.
It is disingenuous to state that the first role of the student guild is to fight for student rights and conditions on a national level, while the actions, or the lack thereof, have a direct and detrimental impact on campus culture and student organizations like the academic, social and equity clubs.
I have tried my best to be fair and objective in writing this, so I do want to acknowledge the benefit provided by the now defunct ticket in shifting the guild towards a position more vocal in its support of grass roots campaigns like fee deregulation. Yet the future remains the same, the guild must exist as an organization which supports students with basic services on campus, as well as being an advocate for their rights and conditions on the national stage and with the university too.
Fortunately, since many of these general senators and office bearers have since lost their positions due to disciplinary protocols, the guild has slowly recovered and services have since began operating smoothly. Events continue to be held, the Guild Student Assist service has been instrumental in hosting numerous events. It remains a sad truth, that the student guild continues to be an underappreciated and under-utilized service which we, as students, continue to pay for. It fills me with happiness to be able to once again walk into the Student Guild Office and not feel the tension and toxicity that existed during that acrimonious period of turmoil.