You’ve probably already had this one yelled at you by a campaigner in a garish and ill-fighting t-shirt, but here goes.
This year’s SRC election is the most important in living memory. Because of Tony Abbott’s commitment to ending the SSAF, the election of a Liberal government presents an existential threat to every service the SRC can offer you when you’re in trouble, from legal advice when your boss is mistreating you, to the caseworkers who help you get Special Consideration, to the CounterCourse that helps you avoid the subjects that are just a little bit shit. I can only urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to vote for the candidate who’ll make sure that there’s still an SRC this time next year. That means a candidate who will be able to sit down with the Vice-Chancellor and convince him that continuing to fund the SRC is a worthwhile use of University money, and who won’t prioritise radical appearances over real results for students. No matter who you vote for, make sure your vote counts.
Even in these dark times of an Abbott government, however, everyday life goes on. This month, SRC Student Welfare have been fighting against your university’s excessive textbooks costs. It’s a massive joke that some faculties (looking at you, Science and Law) seem to expect their students to live off two-minute noodles just to afford the material they need to pass their courses, and this barrier to entry disproportionately affects the lower-SES, International and regional students who are already struggling with Sydney’s rising cost of living.
The interesting thing about these course costs is that they have very dubious legality, since your educational institution is *meant* to provide you with all these materials as part of your HECS fees. The University *claims* that you can *technically* pass the course by borrowing the textbooks you need from the library on a weekly basis, but given that they often provide three of four copies for classes of three or four hundred the claim is more farce than tragedy.
How could your university stop you from having to live off Mi Goreng to afford your textbooks? Other universities around the world have already adpoted policies that resolve this.
Second, they could stop telling you to buy textbooks you don’t really need. There’s no need to buy the whole book when you really only need that crucial paragraph in page 148. Next year’s CounterCourse will hopefully include a section about which subjects actually require the textbook, but your university could go one better by putting those particular pages into free online course readers instead.
Third, they could point you to ways you can acquire pretty much the same textbooks for a significantly lower price. Some so-called fifth or sixth editions are actually earlier editions with slightly different page numbering and an extra sentence here and there, so shopping online for an earlier edition or dropping by the SRC bookshop near the ISL is definitely worth it.
Nobody should ever have to live off Mi Goreng to afford textbooks. If you’d like to get involved in the fight against student poverty, shoot your Welfare Officers an email – we’d love to chat!