No secret deal to shut down University of Wollongong student union

DIVIDED UNION: Chloe Rafferty and former Wollongong Undergraduate Student Union president Sam Tedeschi.
DIVIDED UNION: Chloe Rafferty and former Wollongong Undergraduate Student Union president Sam Tedeschi.

There was no secret deal with the University of Wollongong to shut down the Wollongong Undergraduate Student Association, former WUSA president Sam Tedeschi said.

Student activists looking to save their troubled union claim the university only launched a review into student representation after Tedeschi submitted a secret proposal to close WUSA.

‘’The Young Liberals have an ideological opposition to both trade unions and student unions,’’ National Union of Students NSW education vice president Chloe Rafferty said.

‘’It's a disgrace the university has refused to release Tedeschi's proposal. We fear it reads as a blueprint for union busting.’’

Mr Tedeschi, who now works for NSW Liberal MP Don Harwin, said he was proud that in his time as president, WUSA pushed for overdue and well-needed reform to ensure that the student voice would continue to be heard.

Allegations of a secret proposal or deal with the university to shut down WUSA are simply false.

Former WUSA president Sam Tedeschi

‘’While the university unfortunately did not take on the recommendations from our proposal, they did commission their own review which will hopefully lead to a better student representation framework,’’ he said.

But undergraduate student Ceridwen Bush said this review was the direct result of the ‘’Young Liberals behind closed door lobbying’’.

‘’The university has refused to release the document which sparked the review. They are spending $77,000 of student money on the review but they've given $0 to the union for two years. We're funding our own judge, jury and execution,’’ she said.

They are spending $77,000 of student money on the review but they've given $0 to the union for two years. We're funding our own judge, jury and execution.

UOW undergraduate student Ceridwen Bush

When the Mercury approached the university for comment, a UOW spokesperson said in part the ‘’university is committed to providing a student representative model that is inclusive, responsive to the needs of students and best represents the student voice’’.

But Miss Rafferty wants the university to commit to WUSAs continued existence as an independent, democratic, student-run union with stable funding.

‘’We don't need a review, we need open, democratic elections this September and a fully funded union,’’ she said.

‘’Wollongong students need independent organisations to stand up for our rights now more than ever.’’

This story Former WUSA head says there was no secret deal with UOW to shut-down student union first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.

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