The AUU’s controversial rebranding project — source reveals expert advice was given and seemingly ignored by the AUU Board.
Words by Grace Atta and Habibah Jaghoori
New information reveals the AUU’s controversial ‘youX’ rebranding project, set to go ahead on April 1st, was advised against during its proposal stages, by the University’s own Chief Marketing Officer.
In August of last year, AUU management requested feedback from the University, as a ‘key stakeholder’, on their rebranding project. As the University’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Dr. Benjamin Grindlay consulted on the proposal, regarding its general direction, and provided seven pieces of ‘feedback and key concerns’.
While all seven are pictured below, the most notable points include that the research at the time did not ‘strongly suggest’ there was a need for a rebrand and that removing ‘union’ would be ‘abandoning terms’ widely associated with student-run, student organisations. Further to this, Grindlay raised concerns around the investment required to explain ‘year after year’ a name that would ‘move away from standard common terminology’.
While Dr. Grindlay was not involved in the rebranding project’s later stages of development and decision-making, his advice still raises questions around the ‘youX’ name-change.
On Dit contacted the AUU for comment on each of the concerns raised by Dr. Grindlay — primarily as to why these were ignored — and no response to these questions were provided.
However, the AUU spokesperson said the organisation had used ‘wide ranging consultation and research with students, staff, and stakeholders’ and that the feedback was ‘overwhelmingly positive’.
Despite being requested, a report with the findings of this research was not provided to On Dit.
What are people really saying about the ‘youX’ name change?
Since the release of Schedule 4 to the AUU Constitution: AUU Brand in October 2021, one of the key concerns raised was the removal of the word ‘union’.
This was discussed in an SRC meeting held on the 10th of March, where they expressed a ‘deep concern’ regarding this decision, stating it is purely for ‘political reasons’.
The SRC also raised queries around the AUU’s financing of the project.
While no figures were provided by the AUU, the spokesperson said that all funding to date was sourced from the AUU’s general revenue and not from the Student Services Amenities Fee (SSAF).
Outside of these political discussions, a few students have noted that the name holds a similarity to those for pornographic sites. Hardly ideal.
A recap: the rebranding project announced in 2020
The AUU were investigating this rebranding project for the last 12 months. However, very little information was released on the matter, due to all discussions being held during the board’s in-camera (private) sessions.
In October of last year it was confirmed the rebranding was going ahead, with the release of the Schedule 4 document. In this initial release, the proposed date for a branding transition was December 31st, but this was later altered to April 1st 2022. And yes we checked…it’s not an April Fool’s joke.
Soon after, on November 16th the name-change was made official (per their ABN) — youX by AUU. Along with this name, they released a tagline: ‘Make Uni Your Way’.
But wait…why would the AUU remove the word ‘union’?
The word union holds a deeper meaning of resistance, organising, empowerment, unity, persistence and freedom and throughout history these qualities have been made legacy.
This word is associated with politics that have gained workers weekends and less exploitation, that have gained women more equality, that have pressured governments to cease and desist in war and thus opposes the right-wingers.
The AUU governs the University of Adelaide’s student body and is responsible for overseeing student welfare and academic advocacy. It’s an entity innately entrenched in politics from its founding back in 1985 up until present day.
So who exactly are these people?
The AUU board members who motioned and advocated for the re-brand are as follows:
Oscar Ong (Progress)
Andrew Lai (Progress)
Angela Qin (Progress)
Esther Hung (Progress)
Isaac Trumble (Connect — Liberal)
Stella Woo (Progress)
The Liberal Party and their fiscal and social conservative followers compromising mostly of bosses, hardliners and unintelligent voters have a history of union busting. They propagate economic and social norms that strip the power and recognition from grassroots movements by ordinary people on the ground fighting against their repressive system.
The present day AUU board is being used to reinforce systemic sexism by denying affiliation to women centred clubs and supporting the gender pay gap. Corporatism by uncritically supporting the neoliberal university council in their pursuits of profit at the expense of university student services and education cuts. Last but not least, the backbreaking work of crushing and delegitimizing student societies and campaigns that promote anti-war, anti-fascist, anti-privatisation and climate justice ideas.
All movements and revolutions that have achieved dignity and justice for its people have started off with union politics. It has started off with people coming together and having a space and resources to plan and act.
AUU President Oscar Ong will brand himself and his faction as apolitical in a setting and institute that cannot be separated from politics.
Unions, including university ones, are the place for political organising and events. To attempt to make it ‘apolitical’ is taking away the power, voice and freedom that members and hence, students at the university hold.
What is with our union?
The Adelaide University Union can be the place where students achieve self-determination and create powerful movements that influence political decisions on a mass scale.
Here lies the truth behind the tireless efforts of the right-wing AUU board members who want to take away the word union. They want to take away your ability to fight, to critically think, to stand up for a cause and for your social and financial freedom.
What the Young Liberals and right-wing Progress board members want is for the University to be a place where they can climb the corporate ladder and remain in their bubble of arrogance and disregard for the crisis after crisis these political parties perpetuate onto the masses. If it means their pockets are lined, then they will happily allow for weapons companies that kill, destroy and displace millions of people worldwide to be on campus. They will happily clap and cheerlead for coal kissing politicians that will run away to vacation in the Tropics as the country burns.
These are the board members that do not care for welfare and equity. These are the board members that represent the politicians who have worked against your housing, health and education rights.
The meaning of union is the meaning of freedom from the oppression of the system and by this the AUU board members are threatened.
We have to fight this attack. We have to keep calling it the union. We have to get involved and kick them out. We have to resist their ‘de-politicization’ of the university by countering it with the correct politics everywhere and anywhere.