Change comes to UQ

September 20, 2009

The campaign for the September 21-25 University of Queensland (UQ) student elections has begun. Resistance organiser Dominic Hale is running for environment officer with Flynn Rush from the UQ Greens on the broad-left ticket, Change.

Change is challenging the incumbents Fresh (the Liberal party students) and Real Students, made up of a split from the Young Liberals and their allies, the Labor-right faction, Unity.

The main motivation of the conservative tickets is to crush the remaining left-wing political space on campus and undermine the basis of a strong student union.

The Young Liberals have boasted that bringing Subway on campus last year (the most expensive Subway in Brisbane) is just the first step in a bid to privatise union services.

Real Students and Fresh have promised to bring Nandos and Boost Juice to campus. These will compete directly with the union's juice bar and undermine the above-award rates paid to staff at the union refectory.

In the last elections, the Liberals cynically ran a ticket called Green Students, confusing environmentalists into thinking they were voting green when they were voting Liberal. They are running the Green Students ticket again this year. The task for Change is to work hard to eliminate the confusion among students.

Resistance joined in the broad left alliance of Change to challenge the Young Liberals' grip on the union and build a progressive alternative on campus, reversing the fragmentation of the left.

One example of the record of the incumbent Liberal students was reported in a May 25 article in the Courier Mail. The Union's then-president was accused of misusing union funds to promote Liberal-National Party candidate Paul Walker in the state election.

Change is pushing for the university to take up renewable power. It says the union should show the way by making the union powered by solar power. Change also supports a community garden on campus and the rebuilding of an activist environment collective.

Other Change polices include: student access to 24-hour computer labs, a food bank for struggling students, an end to Saturday exams, podcasts of all lectures and making meals available on campus for $4.

Change also supports the national campaign to make Youth Allowance more accessible and above the poverty line. The left-wing ticket promises to support international students, who have been excluded from campus culture by student unions and the University administration.

Hale told Green Left Weekly: "UQ students are in desperate need of real representation on our university, and real services for students. Both are under attack from the student wing of the Liberal party. Many UQ students are supporting the ticket."

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