Monday, August 07, 2006

Interview with Rachel Hills

To bring a young perspective to the debate over VSU here’s Rachel Hills. Rachel graduated from Sydney University’s media and communications program and now writes for a variety of publications including The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

As a relatively recent university graduate what does the government's VSU legislation mean to you personally?

I was deeply saddened both when the VSU legislation was tabled, and when it was passed by the Senate.

I personally benefited hugely from my involvement in the student union when I was at university. On a personal level, I met many wonderful people I never would have come across if it weren't for the union. One of my best friends, for example, studied Computer Science – I never would have met her if it weren't for us both signing up to show new students around at O Week.

I also benefited a lot from my involvement on a professional level. To be honest, I think I learnt more through my involvement in the union than I did through anything I studied in my actual degree. And I certainly wouldn't be equipped to do the work I do now if it weren't for student publications, union committees, volunteer activities, and all those other programs that open your mind to new ideas and perspectives as much as any textbook. It really saddens me to know that so many future students won't have access to the same opportunities – even if they do elect to join, student organisations will have to cut programmes and corners to ensure their future survival.

That being said, there is a lot of support for VSU amongst university students, and I don't think it's only because of politics or ideology. A lot of students don't feel that student organisations are relevant to them anymore – what with the increase in part time and mature aged students, and even most full time students forced to work at least a couple of days a week. Many students come to uni only to attend class and leave straight after, so don't even use the subsidised buildings and food all that much, let alone the other programmes. And while most students recognise the benefits of things like subsidised legal aid and emergency loans, if they don't foresee themselves needing to use it, they may be reluctant to pay the fees. So student organisations are certainly going to have a challenge on their hands getting students to continue to join post-VSU, especially if services start to decay.


At August 07, 2006 7:18 pm, Anonymous Sam Ward said...

"And while most students recognise the benefits of things like subsidised legal aid and emergency loans"

Kinda makes you how the vast majority of Australians who are non-students manage without such things.


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