Campaign to 'save' troubled UOW student union heats up

WON'T BE SILENCED: National Union of Students NSW education vice president Chloe Rafferty has called on students to join WUSA to force a general meeting on June 2. Picture: Georgia Matts
WON'T BE SILENCED: National Union of Students NSW education vice president Chloe Rafferty has called on students to join WUSA to force a general meeting on June 2. Picture: Georgia Matts

Campaigners looking to ‘‘save’’ the troubled student union at University of Wollongong from being shut down have lashed out at those trying to ‘’silence and intimidate them’’.

The left-wing university students have stepped up their campaign against the Young Liberal leaders of the Wollongong Undergratuate Students’ Association, claiming they are refusing to hand over financial statements to members, and attempting to silence and block the membership of their critics.

Undergraduate student Chloe Rafferty hit out WUSA president Jasper Brewer for not processing her membership.

‘’This is a blatant attempt by Brewer to stop students holding him to account,’’ the National Union of Students NSW education vice president said.

‘’We were told weeks ago that the last president had waived the membership fee but all of a sudden, three weeks after applying for membership, with no evidence of it being passed in council minutes I was told an unspecified fee must be submitted.’’

Rafferty also claimed the WUSA leadership was blocking students’ right to view financial records.

‘’Our fear is that the paper trail would reveal they’re planning to wind up operations, but we can’t know. That’s why we’re calling on students to join the union and save it from being shut down,’’ she said.

These claims have ‘’infuriated’’ Brewer, who said Rafferty was ‘’again lying to the public’’.

‘’She was informed over a week ago, through correspondence with myself that as she had failed to pay the standard membership fee [$20], she was not enrolled as a member of WUSA,’’ he said.

NOT HAPPY:  Wollongong Undergraduate Students’ Association president Jasper Brewer. Picture: Georgia Matts

NOT HAPPY: Wollongong Undergraduate Students’ Association president Jasper Brewer. Picture: Georgia Matts

‘’Yet here over a week later, she is grandstanding and slandering me personally by accusing me of retroactively introducing a membership fee which was a plain, bald faced lie.

‘’Despite [campaigners] their vehement opposition we are [still] interested in their voices.

‘’I personally have never acted with the intend to close the organisation.’’

Brewer originally told the Mercury the 25 membership applications WUSA had received in the last week would be processed by Friday.

But he then emailed to say WUSA was still working with the university to resolve some administrative issues with the existing [membership fee] system.

First year UOW student Ceridwen Bush said campaigners we’re not going to let the right ‘’undermine democracy, ignore the majority and silence students from speaking out’’.

She called on undergraduate students to sign up to WUSA to “save WUSA from the Liberals” and force a special general meeting of the union on Friday, June 2.