Last night’s monthly Curtin Student Guild Council meeting was the first attended by Grok Magazine in a long time and was an opportunity for the council to, among other general business, discuss the future of the Guild’s engagement with the student body. The lack of students attending the meeting—I was one of three observers—was evidence of the fact that many students feel disengaged with the Guild.
As the issue of the day, both parties (Illuminate and Curtin Socialists) agreed that the Guild needed to do more in the future to engage the student body and ensure an open dialogue. Another primary concern, namely raised by members of Curtin Socialists, was making the Guild more democratic and transparent.
Scott Sandon (Curtin Socialists) brought up an opinion piece published in Grok last week, calling for a more representative and open Guild. He suggested the potential for open forums to be held to address some of these concerns. Erin Russell (Curtin Socialists) echoed this concern, including the issue of public debate, and argued it was worth making the argument for a left-wing Guild more open to students. She stated it was undemocratic to exclude students from the decision-making process, and that the new structure of the Guild’s parties provided a unique opportunity to do so. Both Scott and Erin argued that the Guild should be able to prove its left alignment when held up to scrutiny.
Hana Arai (Illuminate, Science & Engineering Faculty Representative) acknowledged that student consultation was the topic of the day, but raised concerns that right-wing students might appear and cause disruptions at those events.
Sandon agreed that, while that was a concern, increasing consultation with students would ensure right-wing students would be unable to argue that they were the side for freedom of speech. He brought up one person who attended the SpeakOut against Islamophobia event and began to accuse other attendees of “virtue-signalling”. Making left-wing arguments as opposed to being a blank slate for the right to confront, said Sandon, would be a better tactic: the Guild “on the offensive” as opposed to defensive.
“We don’t have to cave to the right every time they speak, there’s a really helpful discussion to be had among left-wing people … that’s the kind of consultation we need to expand”.
Finlay Nolan (Illuminate, Guild President) also chimed in, agreeing that the point being made was that the Guild must win those discussions, and in so doing, it would show that the right holds a minority position on campus. David Jorritsma (Illuminate, Activities Vice President) brought up a video Grok had published a few years ago, which emphasised the issue of transparency and student engagement on the Guild’s behalf.
On the subject of Grok, Russell noted that giving the magazine more independence from the Guild, in addition to giving council members more freedom to speak apart from their parties, would ensure a more rigorous democratic process.
In the end, with all in agreement, a motion was passed to create a group to discuss methods of greater student engagement and democracy.
The meeting closed at 6:56 PM.