Australia: Oppose anti-democratic attacks on student clubs at Macquarie University!

In a blatantly anti-democratic attack on students, the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) and numerous student clubs have been arbitrarily disaffiliated at Sydney’s Macquarie University. The IYSSE calls on all students and student groups to fight this assault and demand the reinstatement of all clubs.

Macquarie University Chancellery building (Source: mq.edu.au)

On May 30, without prior notice, Student Engagement Inclusion & Belonging, an arm of management that controls student clubs on campus, sent an email demanding all clubs reaffiliate within an 18-day period, or be disaffiliated.

The email stated that affiliation applications opened on June 1 and closed on June 19. It proclaimed: “This applies to all groups, whether currently affiliated or not. Regardless of whether your group is well established, long standing, or brand new, every group must register by 19th June 2022 if they wish to be affiliated. “

The email declared that “student group requirements have now changed.” Clubs now had to have 30 members, a 50 percent increase from the previous 20, with at least 80 percent currently enrolled at the university, up from 75 percent. Club executives had to have “current Macquarie University students and of satisfactory academic standing.”

The email concluded: “If you do not complete student group registration in time, your group will not be affiliated for at least the remainder of 2022.”

This edict resulted in the disaffiliation of several clubs on campus, including the IYSSE, which has been a registered club since 2010 and successfully reaffiliated last October.

Many clubs were unable to complete the requirements within this deliberately restrictive time frame, with the email sent just before the beginning of the exam period at the end of Semester 1. Moreover, the email was not sent to members of club executives, as correspondence previously was, but instead sent to a single email address for each club.

Until now, the requirements for affiliation had remained virtually unchanged for the more than a decade. Each year, clubs were required to hold an annual general meeting and then submit to Student Engagement a list of members and club office holders and endorsement of the club constitution, which was mirrored on recommendations from Student Engagement.

This bureaucratic process thus required that all the names of club members be handed to the university management. While the IYSSE opposed this anti-democratic requirement, we complied with it each year.

This latest development sets a dangerous precedent. University management can arbitrarily change the requirements for clubs and demand immediate reaffiliation.

Comparing the list of registered clubs on the Macquarie University website between March 12 and today shows that 45 percent of the clubs that were affiliated at the beginning of the year are no longer listed. The total number of clubs in March was 148. As of August that dropped to 95, with 67 clubs from March no longer on the website and 14 new clubs being added.

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