It’s official, the AUU name is now Your eX…*checks notes* sorry, YouX.
Goodbye to the AUU name and a reluctant hello to the now, Facebook official, YouX.
(Or ‘youX’…the formatting has been inconsistent).
As of Thursday the 14th of July, the once AUU social media accounts were updated to the new YouX name. This marks the beginnings of the organisation’s branding transition, which is listed in Schedule 4 of the Constitution as needing to be completed by July 18th (this Monday).
Currently, the transition has included changes to their Instagram and Facebook profile picture, cover and Instagram story highlights.
Within the first two days of posting, the YouX Facebook profile picture acquired a significant response in the comment section, none of which were supportive of the rebrand.
Despite this, YouX (AUU) maintains that the feedback they have received so far has been ‘overwhelmingly positive’.
The quick recap:
For those of you not in the loop, the University’s student union (god knows what we call that now) has been planning a rebranding project for more than a year. However, as many of you are aware, it has not been without controversy. Most notably, the revelation that the AUU Board had received expert advice against the rebrand during its early stages of investigation, and accusations of conservative bias towards the concept of a ‘union’. Not to mention the concerns of the name’s similarity to pornographic sites.
The initial date for this rebrand transition was meant to be December 31st of 2021, but was later moved to April 1st, 2022. It turns out, that may have been an April fools joke after all, as the date was promptly moved to July 18th.
The YouX spokesperson did not clearly state why the date was moved, but says that ‘the project has evolved’ and the new date will ‘coincide with new student arrivals in semester two’.
Ultimately, it seems we now have the final product, no one really asked for.
What does YouX even mean?
On Dit contacted YouX (the AUU) regarding the rebrand and the intent of what many have deemed a confusing name.
A spokesperson for YouX stated the name was ‘strongly linked’ to the term ‘user experience’ (UX) and that this was aligned to the organisation’s purpose as they ‘help define students’ uni experience’.
The spokesperson also said the aim of the project is to ‘connect better with students’ by creating a brand that is ‘inclusive’ and ‘more accurately captures’ what the organisation does.
On Dit raised concerns around the name’s similarity to pornographic sites and it being flagged by google for this reason.
YouX stated they did not believe this would be an ongoing issue once the brand is fully established online, with a ‘wider footprint’.
‘Indexing of new sites can take time (up to a week) and in the interim search results may be mixed but once completed we believe searching and finding YouX will be easy and user friendly’ says the YouX spokesperson.
How much did the rebrand cost?
YouX (AUU) would not provide figures for the project’s financial cost, despite multiple requests from student bodies and On Dit. The YouX spokesperson says this is on the basis of ‘commercial in confidence considerations’, and that students should be aware that no SSAF funds were used to finance the project.
The spokesperson also says that the organisation has taken steps to ‘reduce the financial and environmental impacts of the project’.
‘We have worked closely with Ecoverstiy and our suppliers to recycle and reuse as many materials as possible to limit wastage and reduce expenditure. The project has also been funded from AUU general revenue (profits from our commercial entities)’ says the YouX spokesperson.
So, can we still call it the student union?
At an official terminology level the answer to this is question is currently unclear.
The spokesperson says that their ‘services, team, and mission remain the same’ and that the ‘Adelaide University Union’ will remain the organisation’s ‘historical name’.
Make of this what you will.
Is the removal of the word ‘union’ a political decision?
Officials from ‘YouX’ have denied that the name change is politically motivated but despite these claims, politics and massive political implications cannot be separated from discarding the profound and historic word, union. Student unions are there to create, challenge or transform the society in which a student is educated under. It’s a space for students to politically engage with each other and with the world beyond the confines of the classroom and it’s supposed to give students a platform to organise for their interests.
AUU board members who are responsible for discarding the word union, who proclaim apolitical motives, are members who have welcomed increased university ties with destructive industries such as weapons and fossil fuel companies. These people have used the political muscle the UNION has given them to be strong and front-runner campaigners for anti-women, anti-choice, pro-war, anti-marriage equality and pro education-cuts actions on campus and even taking it to the level of state and federal parliament. Current AUU Board President Oscar Ong from the Progress faction and absolute powerhouse behind the name change is responsible for stripping the democratically elected Student Representative Council, an undoubtedly political organisation, from all funding and halting their ability to deliver to students what they were elected to do. He is also responsible for disaffiliating the University from the National Union of Students, the main representative body for higher education in Australia. The N.U.S is an organisation that campaigns for free education, opposing the migration and citizenship legislation, raising the age of independence etc. campaigns. So this is the track record to gain when union power is abused in the wrong hands rather than being centrally utilised in the correct hands.
The choice to discard the word union, and with it, the depth of what a union is, needs to be recognised and called out for what it is. A sinister attempt at retaining the very influential political muscle inside a right-wing and extremely tight-knit circle. It’s an endeavour to increase the gap between students and their democratic right to organise for their interests in order for neoliberal university management and these careerist AUU board members to destroy society without confrontation and agitation. ‘YouX’ is a reactionary effort.
The removal of the word union is a woeful defeat for all students and staff at the University. Yes, whilst certain essential services remain, students are left without the knowledge and ease of taking matters into their own hands through united power. Students, especially future students are facing the risk of losing their power for self-determination and for their ability to fight.
The only responsible reaction is to not recognise ‘YouX’. It’s to keep calling it, referring to it and engaging with it as a union.