University of Melbourne

Students for Palestine claims to be a collective of the Union, run by the Education Public Affairs Office in response to the recent events in Gaza. No motion declaring that this collective is part of the Union has passed through any committee or meeting of Students Council, the peak representative body for students at the University of Melbourne.

In a time where students are faced with structural changes due to the Melbourne Model, increasing class sizes, staff cuts and reduced subject choice, increasing costs and challenges like rising unemployment and costs of living, we reject the notion that these issues should be considered less important by the Education Department than taking sides in a conflict on the other side of the world.

The Education (Public Affairs) Officers moved a motion at Students’ Council to allocate $1000 to Palestine Solidarity Week out of UMSU’s general-use “Whole of Union Fund”. This motion did not pass, due to concern over the appropriateness of the money coming from Whole of Union, and concern over the inclusiveness of the events.

In response to a direct question, Education Public Affairs Office Bearer, Tim Arnot said that the Jewish Students Society would not be allowed to participate. When asked who could take part, Arnot replied that the collective would decide - and that any student that they defined as racist and/or Zionist would be banned from participating. We have a problem with people being banned from an event, due to the decision of a small amount of people on whether they are “racist” or not.

Previously, a motion at Education Committee had passed asking for $650 for Palestine Solidarity Week in the case that the $1000 did not pass at Students Council. That decision is now being appealed by three members of the Education Committee.

Then, at the next quorate Welfare Committee Meeting, $650 was asked for from the Welfare Budget for Palestine Solidarity Week. This was also passed, and is now being appealed by 30 members of the Student Body who believe that the Welfare budget should be used strictly for issues surrounding Students Welfare on Campus.

This comes at a time when so many students are in need of emergency housing that the University Housing Service is renting out backpackers hostels to house them. It comes at a time when no Postgraduate or International student can get a concession card. It comes just as it’s about to become even harder to receive Youth Allowance. It comes at a time when the Welfare Department needs to focus on serving students, not fighting the war in the Middle East.

Socialist Alternative, like others in the past, use student unions as resources, strip-mining them for funds to support their political agendas, which do not necessarily agree with the majority of Students. For the Union to be truly representative of the students that it aims to serve, the union needs to listen and take note of the majority of students. It must reflect their needs, their ideas and what they want the Union to be.

It’s time to draw the line. Student Funds are for Student Use, for the benefit of our students. If Students Council won’t reign in political corruption, then we will have to do it ourselves.

When signing this petition, please put in the ‘comments’ section your student number and a Y if you are a union member. We can't use your signature without your number and proper name.

Dear Secretary,

We, the undersigned students of the University of Melbourne, call upon Students’ Council to uphold appeals against the decisions of the Welfare and Education Committees of University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) to donate money to “Palestine Solidarity Week”.

We believe that Union funds belong to students, and that the Education and Welfare Department budgets should be used to support Education advocacy and Welfare services for University of Melbourne students, respectively. These are not general funds to be exploited for the political agendas of the people holding those offices.

Political causes outside of direct education and student welfare issues should only be supported by UMSU if they enjoy the support of the majority of students. We challenge “Students for Palestine”, the group organising Palestine Solidarity Week, to demonstrate that they enjoy such support before seeking endorsement, much less funding, from UMSU.

In the event that Students Council does not uphold these appeals, this petition serves to request a General Meeting on this issue, to be held on the soonest possible Tuesday at 12 noon.

We are not intrinsically opposed to UMSU putting money for this or any other political campaign, just want to ensure that the Union is being representative of a majority of students wishes. We wish to ensure student funds are for student use and for students benefit.

We request that this petition be presented to Students’ Council at the next meeting.

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The UMSU Students' Council: Uphold the Appeals petition to University of Melbourne was written by Charlie Goodman and is in the category Education at GoPetition.