Prove your humanity

The morning of the third day of EdCon saw a return to the ‘Welfare not Warfare’ theme and discussion around AUKUS.

Rowan Cahill, a historian, journalist, and fierce opponent to the Vietnam War, was the guest speaker for the Anti-war plenary and gave the attendees a comprehensive overview of the fight against the war, including his own experience in the activism of the 60s and 70s.

The anti-war sentiment, which was prominent on Day 1, was renewed with a focus on the future of nuclear energy in Australia and how it will impact the safety of country, due to the inherent dangers of nuclear and the apparent military target a base would be.

However, not everyone was talking about the AUKUS deal, as the Change the Age workshop continued where Day 2’s Anti-poverty plenary ended.

Executive Director of the Foundation of Young Australians Lee Carnie co-hosted the talk, alongside NUS Welfare Officer Grace Franco, which laid out an overarching strategy of how to implement the Change the Age campaign on university campuses around the country.

The following workshop, Merger Madness! Guilds gone wild, was jointly run by Curtin Student Guild’s very own Vice President of Education Veronika Gobba, and Murdoch Student Guild President Heidee Austic.

While the workshop was criticised my members of SAlt for its light-hearted tone and attempts at humour, it was an informative talk about the actions WA’s student guilds have taken in response to the state governments interest in a merger of Curtin, UWA, Murdoch and ECU.

Dylan Botica defends the course of action the Curtin Guild took in opposition to news of a university merger. Photo: Andrew Williams.

SAlt’s criticism also extended to the actions taken by these students guilds, specifically the negotiations that took place with Vice Chancellors because SAlt argues that VC’s only have profits in mind, and it’s naïve to think that they could help in any positive way.

However, SAlt was also on the receiving end of criticism during The Problem with Mercedes Marxists (The real proletariat is the ULS) workshop, hosted by members from both Unity and NLS.

Though hope for any serious discussion was quickly put to rest as the workshop quickly devolved into members from both parties taking pot-shots and mocking SAlt, who had no members present other than one that did attend who immediately turned heel and walked out upon realising what was happening.

Criticism of SAlt didn’t end there.

As attendees gathered for the International Student plenary, hosted by University of Melbourne Student Union General Secretary Disha Zutshi, tensions between factions rose shortly after the panel began.

Disha said the goal of the plenary was to give a voice to international students and to share their stories, beginning with the predatory role of university agents who recruit prospective students overseas and often receive commissions for their “work”. The panellists were unanimous in their call for reform as they felt international students were taken advantage of frequently.

However, when the panellists, international students themselves, mentioned positive changes the ALP Education Minister Jason Clare has made towards access for graduate work, SAlt members began to heckle and interject.

They shouted whataboutisms, questioned the panellists about Nauru, and held the microphone hostage from Disha as they continued to drown out the perspectives of the international students.

Unity and NLS were united in their support for the panellists as shouts of “racists” were levelled against SAlt for hijacking the panel.

Time was reached while SAlt began anti-police chants that were quickly met with Unity’s own party song.

Only one day left now. Yay.