A group of University of Wollongong students has launched a campaign to ‘save’ their troubled student union amid fears it could be shut down by campus management.
The left-wing campaigners have raised concerns about the current Young Liberal leaders of the Wollongong Undergraduate Student Association.
WUSA president Jasper Brewer’s public support of the Federal Government’s proposed 7.5 per cent university fee hikes ‘’shocked’’ the students into action.
National Union of Students NSW education vice president Chloe Rafferty said the Young Liberals were acting against the interests of students and were running WUSA ‘’into the ground’’ to force the university to shut down the student union.
But Brewer hit back at ‘’spurious claims’’ he said were made by ‘’the radical leftist organisation, Socialist Alternative’’.
‘’Accusations I have acted to shut down WUSA are false. Their opposition to the current WUSA council is based on their opposition to my perceived political view,’’ he said.
But UOW student Rafferty claimed the Young Liberals had mismanaged funds, refused to recognise WUSA members and used their platform to support unpopular government fee increases.
‘’There has been a total lack of transparency over the last two years,’’ she said.
‘’We're very concerned that the Liberals have a takeover and burn strategy of basically running the student union to the ground for a couple of years, using it for fringe right-wing positions that students don’t support and then leaving the door open for uni management to shut it down.’’
Brewer told the Mercury the Liberals’ inherited a ‘’financially struggling’’ WUSA from Labor in 2015. He welcomed a review into student representation to ensure a strong system of student representation at UOW continued for years to come.
A UOW spokesperson said the review report is due to be completed by the end of the year. The University Council will then consider whether any student representations’ changes need to be made.
‘’The university is committed to providing a student representative model that is inclusive, responsive to the needs of students and best represents the student voice.’’