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16 March 2005

Students’ Associations around the country are condemning Minister Nelson’s idelogical attack on student representation. The proposed ‘Voluntary Student Unionism’ legislation tabled before the lower house today signals a death-knell for services, social life and representation on campus.

Coincidentally, the legislation is being introduced in the same week that the ANU Students’ Association has launched a massive awareness campaign about the effects of anti student-organisation legislation.

President Aparna Rao said:

“The campaign has begun with a poster-coverage of the campus alerting students to what VSU actually means. We screen-printed these posters on old newspapers over the weekend. They pose questions such as “What will you lose under VSU?” and “How can you stop VSU?”

“I am shocked at the abuse of power that the Government’s move demonstrates. A majority in two houses does not mean that they can introduce uninformed and anti-democratic legislation. The Minister’s speech in Parliament indicates that he is totally misinformed about what student organisations actually do. We rarely break down Vice-Chancellor’s offices with axes purchased with student money.

“We do provide legal and welfare advice, loans, and orientation week activities, with student money. We also speak out when anything that might be detrimental to students is an issue, either in the University or in the Government. The Government wants to quash dissent and they are using their parliamentary power to do it.

“The Government is hypocritical. It spends our taxes in exactly the same way that it criticises Unions for spending student money: often on things many of us don’t ever use. Yet we don’t see legislation abolishing taxes. It is also hypocritical in describing compulsory fees as a huge toll on students. The biggest toll on students today is actually the HECS fees that are set by the Howard Government.”

Aparna Rao

Unofficial Orientation Week!!!

11 February 2005

Students at the ANU will start the year with an unusual mix of traditional and never-before-seen events. The ANU Students’ Association has cooked up another unofficial program, providing everything from jumping castles and BBQ’s to an introduction to Canberra’s nightlife.

The program includes a mix of day and evening events kicking off with an afternoon of Live Bands in Union Court that is designed to get the week rolling and give some exposure to some of Canberra’s best young musical talent. It all gets bigger and better from there. On Tuesday we see the Bondi Beach Carnival arrive to the ANU with performers, free food, music and some hilarious novelty events.

Wednesday is traditionally clubs and societies day, and this is combined into a Market Day which attracts students in their thousands to the demonstrations, sampling and a fantastic, laidback atmosphere. On top of that we have Triple J’s Chris and Craig coming to the Uni Bar to do a live broadcast and accompanying them will be the massive acts of Koolism and Sarah Brasko. Add in The Chaser team and a group of politicians led by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Jenny Macklin, and a sensational (and free) night is guaranteed.

Thursday will see the biggest event of the week hit the ANU with the Super Monster Beach Party kicking off at 6.30pm. Acts include Gerling, Rocket Science, Evermore and Butterfingers and at $15 a ticket for students, it promises to be a truly amazing night.

ANUSA President Aparna Rao and Social Officer Tim Mayfield

…Media Release…Media Release… Media Release…!!!
Wednesday 8 December 2004

ANUSA President Aparna Rao

The recent admission figures analysed in the Higher Education Supplement and The Canberra Times today tell us two things. One, that the impact of the higher education reforms on the accessibility of education in Australia is as dire as many of my predecessors have predicted. And two, that the Coalition Government is still in denial about this.

It’s not enough to say that a decline in applications is not of concern because the same decline is occurring all over Australia. In fact, a decline at just one University would be of lesser concern – all we’d have to do is overhaul the one institution. But a decline all over Australia should concern all of us greatly, because it means that fewer people are seeing the value of going to University.

Minister Nelson’s argument that the ‘figures included raw data for overseas fee-paying students’ and therefore don’t ‘show a link between increased fees and decreased demand’ is just a way of undermining the figures on the basis of a single factor. What he fails to address is the clear correlation between the cost of going to University and the desire of students to go there. The sharp rise in admission figures immediately before HECS increases last year should indicate this. Failing that, all he has to do is go and stand in Union Court at the ANU to find that 39.78% of students say they wouldn’t have come to the ANU in 2004 if it raised fees.

Of course, it’s always possible to pull out an example of one or two Universities that have not conformed with the link between increased fees and decreased demand. It’s easy enough to say that students really want to go to a particular University because of its prestige or location, meaning that admissions won’t fall despite the higher cost. But this can’t by any stretch of the imagination justify an increase in that cost simply because the Federal Government refuses to fulfil its role in protecting and improving the quality of our education in Australia.

Aparna Rao

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