Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 24. 26th September 1973
SRC or Farce
SRC or Farce
Many of us who have religiously supported SRC, ignoring those reactionaries who have grizzled that SRC is a farce, we are finding our beliefs being shaken by the heretical doctrine of the power elite.
Those of you who attended the SRC meeting on August 30, will recall that a motion was submitted, ordering student reps to attend meetings of the catering sub and union management committees (where students are in a majority) and vote in favour of reducing the price of tea and coffee to 5 cents. Those against the motion (including most of the student reps) stated that the profit/loss balance would be upset if individual prices were tinkered with. Those in favour argued that the reduction in cost of tea and coffee could be offset, by reducing and organising, staff. It was suggested that the price reduction would act as a direct incentive for students to clear their tables after meals.
The motion was carried by the students; it was later suggested by Wilson that the matter go directly to the Management Committee, which was meeting within a few days. Here, the motion, against student wishes, was lost 5—3. This situation is extremely grave, and, as a simple democratic principle is at stake deserves further analysis.
It seems that many of the reps (excluding Wilson, Randall and Howell) were either not aware of the meeting, or purposely did not attend. Several reps were approached, and their reasons for not attending given. One said that he had so much work to do... and he couldn't give a stuff anyway. Another said that he had other committments that night. The most serious statement was that 'many students do not know what they're voting on at SRC'.
The last statement implies that, although motions may be passed at SRC by a majority, the power elite may decide subjectively whether or not the motions are acceptable. The basic question that arises is: whether this type of control has been used in the past?
It is also obvious that many people, including the reps themselves, don't know who exactly comprises the committees. It was stated that 'it was virtually impossible to keep track of all student reps'. This situation is extremely serious, and will have to be looked at in depth in the future.
It appears that when the veneer of 'free speech' is scraped the true power forces within the student body are polarised and exposed. As is typical of many unions, the executives are tending to treat the rank and file members as clients, rather than participants. Hopefully, this attitude will change next year, as more people become determined to put the interest of the students first.