Opinion: The SRC President refusing to endorse protests against student fee hikes is a shocking failure in student advocacy

Words by Nicholas Birchall

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Picture: SRC President Oscar Xi Shao Ong and his email to the SRC Executive

In an email obtained by On Dit, SRC President Oscar Xi Shao Ong rejected motions to

- Promote and endorse the August 7 protest against staff cuts on the Adelaide University Student Representative Council Facebook page

- Promote and endorse the August 28 protest against fee hikes on the Adelaide University Student Representative Council Facebook page

These motions were proposed by SRC Environmental Officer Ahmed Azhar.

Ong stated that he was rejecting the motion against staff cuts as it “is inconsistent with our constitution where we are supposed to represent our (Adelaide University) students”.

He further stated that he was rejecting the endorsement of a protest against fee hikes as the SRC is “prohibited from endorsing campaigns organised by NUS [National Union of Students]”.

There’s a bit to unpack here. Whether or not you agree that the SRC should be affiliated with the broader NUS, it’s undeniable that they are the ones currently leading the fightback against the proposed student fees hikes.

While Ong may hide behind the bureaucracy of Schedule II of the AUU constitution, it is important to remember that it was his Connect (Young Libs)/Progress Coalition that sought to, and eventually succeeded in disaffiliating the SRC from the NUS.

We cannot allow Ong to use this bureaucratic cop-out to shirk his responsibility as head of what is supposed to be the peak student advocacy body at the uni. With no alternative currently being provided by the SRC, this decision can only be motivated by internal political power-games rather than a genuine interest in the welfare of students.

Just briefly, regarding his failure to endorse a strike against staff cuts, what Ong fails to realise is that cuts to academic staff do impact the students he proports to represent. How can one expect teaching standards not to deteriorate with a cut to academic funding?

There is no-way Ong’s current trajectory can be seen as anything more than towing the corporate university line.

The views expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not reflect the views of On Dit.

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Adelaide University student magazine since 1932. Edited by Nicholas Birchall, Felix Eldridge, Taylor Fernandez and Larisa Forgac. Email us at onditmag@gmail.com

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