By David Gosling
CANBERRA — Activists from the Education Action Group (EAG) at the Australian National University are currently collecting the 800 signatures needed to allow a referendum on affiliation to the National Union of Students (NUS).
ANU students are facing major attacks from the vice-chancellor — including the threat of 100 forced staff redundancies, which would result in the destruction of whole departments, majors and degrees.
EAG activist and Resistance member Natalie Zirngast said, "Under these sort of attacks, which are happening on many campuses, students need to organise on their own campuses, but they also need to take part in the national union. That's why Resistance and the EAG are supporting affiliation."
ANU is the last major campus not to be affiliated to NUS. This is in no small part due to the lack of support that the Labor NUS leadership gave to a large campaign against fees on ANU in 1994. But Resistance activists are confident that the affiliation will go ahead.
Despite an enormous amount of anti-NUS propaganda distributed by the Liberal club, students are signing the petitions and getting involved in the campaign. "It's pretty obvious that the only people actively opposing NUS are the Liberals, from the same party that is slashing federal education funding", Zirngast said.
Resistance club member Amanda Lawrence points out that "the Labor Club has also been notably absent from the campaign to affiliate ANU. It is only because left and independent activists are working together that the campaign has got this far. The ALP, far from helping the chances of affiliation, are giving NUS a bad name through their do-nothing leadership."
Resistance and independent activists are forming a broad left ticket called Activate! to contest the student association elections, to be held alongside the referendum in September. Activate! has already called on students to support ANU affiliation to NUS.