Salient gives up on impartiality
One of the many flawed reasons used to justify compulsory membership is that compulsory funds subsidise student media. Student politicians tell us student media is important because it's an independent voice on campus which holds institutions and student associations to account. Students need an independent student media, we're told, so they know what's really going on.
Well, that's what we're told.
In recent days Salient, the magazine owned by the Victoria University Students Association, has killed the myth of independent student media stone dead.
The Vuwsa executive want to increase the compulsory Vuwsa levy. Has Salient taken an independent stance on this, weighing up the pros and cons and treating both sides evenly? Has it hell.
Salient editor James Robinson has been outspoken in his support of an increase of the levy. Salient is owned by Vuwsa and would be a possible beneficiary of any fee increase. Robinson has a vested interest in seeing the fee go up. At the SGM he spoke in favour of a fee increase and has also shown himself to be a less-than-impartial supporter of Vuwsa and compulsory membership saying:
- A rise in the levy is the best way to preserve VUWSA at its current level.
- In my heart of hearts I can’t help but implore you to vote for an increase in the levy.
- You...think you are being ripped off and your money misspent. But that’s just not true.
- You get so much more used (sic) out of a levy than you actually think.
- VSM, will lead to higher student fees.
They've used their positions within the magazine to launch personal attacks on students who've spoken out against the fee increase. This has a purpose. If you want to shut down your opponents one tactic is to ridicule them in print or online. This sends a clear signal to other students: don't oppose us or you'll end up being ridiculed by Salient. An old Chinese proverb says "kill one, frighten ten thousand." Robinson and Keen have adapted this rule to "ridicule one, silence ten thousand."
Again it all comes back to compulsory membership. The students targeted by Robinson and Keen have been forced to pay money to an organisation which claims to represent them. Some of that money has been given to Salient which then launches personal attacks on the same students. The students singled out by Salient are effectively being forced to fund an attempt to humiliate them in public.
Vuwsa's constitution says its primary goal is "promoting the interests" and "representing the views" of students. How does the forced funding of journalists who decide they want to ridicule you fit with the reason Vuwsa supposedly exists - that is to promote the interests of students and represent their views?
And given Robinson's and Keen's obvious bias against voluntary membership, students should be aware that Salient is totally incapable of providing fair and impartial coverage of the compulsory membership issue.
Again it all comes back to money and compulsory supporters' determination to keep the cash rolling in.