Student Unity


Student Unity

Student Unity (also known as SU or simply Unity) is a factional grouping within the Australian National Union of Students (NUS). It is politically aligned towards the Right or Labor Unity faction of the Australian Labor Party. Student Unity usually represents itself by means of a yin-yang logo, representing its position as the centre of the Australian political spectrum.

The faction views itself as being committed to both fiscal responsibility and lobbying for progressive causes, while its more left-wing opponents are critical of the faction's approach to social policy and view the faction as conservative and machinist.

tudent Unity Policy

Aware of the financial collapse of NUS's forerunner, the Australian Union of Students, Unity's policy places particular emphasis on sound financial management and proper administration, often limiting monies appropriated for campaigns not closely linked to education, student unionism and student experiences at University. The faction often votes against motions supporting issues which do not directly affect students or which are felt to be too radical. The core philosophy is that NUS is there to represent students and if it were to spend its money on other social issues such as anti-globalisation, environmental causes or the crisis in the Middle East then it would not only be failing to represent students but it would be diverting money that could otherwise be spent on representing the educational and social needs of those students.

Student Unity policy is broadly consistent with the current policies of the Australian Labor Party and the faction is generally in favour of policies such as free trade and Medicare and among the Labor student factions it is the only faction to support HECS. The faction is often a strong supporter of student poverty motions and can face considerable opposition from both the Grassroots Left and the Socialist Alternative who argue for a broader focus on equality in general.

Like the Australian Labor Party, Student Unity utilises conscience voting on abortion and reproductive rights policies, drug policies and other controversial social issues. Critics of the faction argue that this leads to support of moral and social conservatism, but the faction argues that it allows the faction to unite moderate progressive students under a single banner without splitting the faction on issues that are not critical to student services.

Opponents to Student Unity believe the group gives too little consideration towards feminist and queer issues and allege a lack of support for these member's policies within the caucus. For example, it voted against the creation of the queer department at the 1999 conference (but voted in favour in 2000) and it was common before the 2006 conference for Unity delegates and observers to not be present during the Queer and Women's policy sessions of conference. However, Unity argues that while its caucus is supportive of women's and queer issues, the National Union of Students should focus on issues directly relating to students. Despite their entitlement to a conscience vote the vast majority of Unity members support pro-choice and pro-LGBT motions.

History of Student Unity

Beginnings

The faction formed in 1991, when David Feeney led members of the Labor Right within the NOLS caucus to join forces with elements of the Independents factions in a successful attempt to elect Pablo Campillos as NUS General Secretary. Since then, Unity has become one of the biggest factions in NUS, with a presence in all Australian states and territories, albeit weak in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania.

Until 2006, the faction had successfully retained the position of NUS National General Secretary every year since its inception, due to a 'sweetheart' deal with the former NOLS caucus. At the 2006 Conference, the faction failed to obtain the position of General Secretary for the first time in its history, the position going to the Independents, despite the continued support of the National Labor Students, the successor to NOLS. However at the 2007 Conference the Student Unity candidate from Victoria, Ben Maxfield was successful in being elected thus returning Student Unity to a significant role in NUS for the 2008 year .

List of Student Unity National Office Bearers

2008
*Ben Maxfield, General Secretary from Monash University
*Liz Larbalestier, Welfare Officer from University of Wollongong.
*Grant Machell, Small and Regional Campus Officer from Monash University2007
*Josh Rayner, Welfare Officer from the University of Adelaide
*Jamila Rizvi (resigned), Ethnocultural Officer from Australian National University.2006
*Michael de Bruyn, General Secretary from University of Melbourne.2005
*Sacha Fenton, General Secretary from University of Queensland.
*Katana Smith, Welfare / Small and Regional Campus Officer from Flinders University.2004
*Daniel Mookhey, General Secretary from University of Technology, Sydney
*Lambros Tapinos, Welfare / Small & Regional Campus Officer from Victoria University.2003
*Michael Comninos, General Secretary from University of Sydney.
*Belinda Clark, Queer Officer from Curtin University.2002
*Dave Hughes, General Secretary from the University of New South Wales.2001
*Lizzie Blandthorn, General Secretary from University of Melbourne
*Rachel Thomson, Welfare / Small & Regional Campus Officer from University of Tasmania.

2000
*Simon Lees, General Secretary from University of Sydney.
*Charlie Heuston, Education Officer from Flinders University.

1999
*Gilbert Astorga, General Secretary from University of Tasmania.
*Tom Cargill, Welfare / Small & Regional Campus Officer from Flinders University.

1998
*Erica Martin, General Secretary from Murdoch University.

1997
*Chris Burrell, General Secretary from Australian Maritime College.

1996
*Roland Stephens, General Secretary from University of Sydney.

1995
*Michael Gadiel, General Secretary from University of Sydney.
*Michelle MacDonald, Women's Officer from La Trobe University.

1994
*Wendy Haydon, General Secretary from James Cook University.
*Tim Lyons, Education Officer from University of Tasmania.

1993
*Simon Hoffman, General Secretary from University of Western Australia.

1992
*Pablo Campillos, General Secretary from Curtin University.

References

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