Axe the SSAF Once and For All

by on 25 November, 2015

Tomorrow, Independent Senator John Madigan plans to move a motion cleansing Australian Universities of the scourge that is compulsory student unionism by abolishing the Students Services and Amenities Fee – otherwise known as the ‘SSAF.’

The move has already been met with uproar from the student unions and leftists who are evidently horrified at the prospect of their largesse no longer being subsidized by the debts of ordinary students.

Outrage from student politicians grief-stricken at the thought of their personal fiefdoms being defunded should give no pause for Senator Madigan’s motion. In fact, it underscores the urgent need for the SSAF’s immediate abolition.

Most students aren’t even aware that the SSAF exists. It’s simply added to their HECS to the tune of $290 a year. But what they should know is that not a cent of it goes towards their education.

For the most part, the SSAF is used to underwrite the profligacy and petty indulgences of student unions. At first glance these outfits seem noble enough, professing to enhance the welfare and campus experience of students. The reality is somewhat less gallant.

At best they do a poor job of duplicating services usually already offered by the University administration and distribute funding to clubs through an unwieldy bureaucracy stacked out by third-rate hacks.

At worst they operate as semi-corrupt shopfronts for jumped up activists-in-training. At some universities, they simply end up being openly abused as sinecures for Trotskyites suffering from an incurable case of delayed onset teenage angst.

When pressed, student unions are usually able to list a number of superficial ways that students benefit from paying the fee. But whether this is worth the cost of a MacBook Pro or flights to Europe over the course of a four-year degree depends entirely on what kind of student you are.

If you study a degree in navel-gazing and elect to spend your days cordoned off in a ‘safe space’ bemoaning the high tragedy that is life in 21st century Australia, it may be the best money you’ve ever spent.

Your answer may be a little different if you spend more time in the library than walking down public streets screaming obscenities down a megaphone. And if you think a couple of free coffees, a show bag of O-week trinkets and a few poorly run parties aren’t worth the cost of a semester’s haul of textbooks, you’re certainly being ripped off.

Compulsory unionism is rightly regarded as an affront to freedom of association in Australian workplaces. It should be no different for students.

Leave a Reply