By Bernie Wunsch
LISMORE — The September elections for the Lismore (Southern Cross University) student representative council (SRC) resulted in a clean sweep for the broad left ticket. For the first time in years, the SRC is made up of committed activists, both experienced and new, who see the necessity of students taking control of their education.
The SRC has been setting strategies to reinvigorate it as an active left organisation which empowers students and rebuilds activism on campus and throughout the region.
The SRC for 2000 was elected on a platform of campaigning for student rights and conditions as well as environmental and social justice issues. At a two-day strategy planning conference in November, it decided on ways to work on campus and off to oppose the conservative university administration and build anti-government campaigns as part of the national student movement.
The SRC will take up political campaigns, from local environment issues such as the forest campaign to international solidarity with students from Indonesia, Burma and other countries.
The conditions for students have been severely eroded since the SCU administration implemented the funding cuts and privatisation agenda of the Howard government. The SRC will launch a campaign in early 2000 to get student support and input for a "log of claims" campaign to reverse the cuts to the library, staff pay and conditions, and declining education standards.
It sees the successful Bankstown occupation as an important victory which needs to be repeated across the country. There is complete opposition to the channelling of university funds to joint business ventures at the expense of education standards.
Exciting prospects to expand students' voice through an increase and upgrading of student media will also be initiated. In 2000 there will be an expanded student newspaper, a new SRC radio show (on community radio), web site upgrades and new video equipment which will ensure the demands of students and the SRC are heard loud and clear.
A commitment to rebuilding active and participatory collectives such as the environmental, women's, queer and political action collectives is also seen as a priority to rebuilding the SRC and activism on campus. In addition, the SRC will link in with actions of the National Union of Students, support National Tertiary Education Industry Union campaigns, run joint campaigns with students from other universities and the community and work with TAFE and high school students.
[Bernie Wunsch is the Southern Cross University SRC chairperson and a member of Resistance.]