By Corinne Glenn
PERTH — For the first time in six years, student guild elections are taking place on Edith Cowan University. The guild has been run by the left of the Labor Party (NOLS) since its inception, and the elections have never been contested.
When activists on ECU this year asked about the regulations, the guild had to have an emergency meeting to formulate them. The guild has taken little action around education cuts or other issues and what it has done has been insular and campus-based.
The activist-based ticket contesting the elections, RAGE, is arguing for the need to go beyond campus in order to successfully fight against fees, racism, sexism and homophobia on campus.
RAGE presidential candidate Angela Luvera (currently the women's officer at ECU) spoke to Green Left about broadening students' campaign perspectives. "This year the guild has done little to link up with campaigns in the broader community, such as with actions proposed by Action Against Racism", she said. "Students are concerned about the issues and want to do something, and it is the guild's responsibility to give those students avenues to get active."
Luvera said that "RAGE will be highlighting the campaign by Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor to free the political prisoners. In Indonesia many students have been imprisoned merely for organising. Meanwhile the current guild has the freedom to organise students, but does not."
RAGE hopes to emulate the campaigning successes achieved by the Curtin University of Technology RAGE ticket, which won a National Union of Students' delegate position and two guild council positions. The University of WA RAGE ticket did not win any positions, but ran a good campaign which built events like the Fighting Racism Conference and a Reggae Against Racism held in Perth two weeks ago.
RAGE hopes to get a different result on ECU than occurred at Curtin and UWA where the inactive guild incumbents were re-elected. Luvera points out that, "With up-front fees on the agenda on all four campuses in WA, guilds need to be getting out of their apathy. No student guild can refer to themselves as a student union if they put up virtually no resistance to the decimation of access to education."