It is hardly surprising that the Greens oppose voluntary student union membership. After all, such organisations are the training grounds for all too many leftwing political activists, and having such undisciplined access to power and money is a great entree into how the state works.
The great ideological myth around student unions has its direct parallels with the Rousseau view of the "general will" taken to its logical end by Marxism-Leninism.
It goes like this:
- Students are an identifiable collective body of people with a common set of interests. As they are deemed to lack power, having a representative body is in their interests to put the "student view" to the university and more widely to government.
- Student unions can provide that representation, and as such embody the "general will" of students. As long as they are elected, regardless of turnout, the student union can perform this task.
- The "general will" is comprised of the interests of students. Those who disagree with the student union are against the interests of students. As the media, government and universities listen to student unions, this proves they are seen to be representative;
- Students who disagree with the student union are a minority. Their views would only be legitimate if they were carried by the union. If it isn't the view of the union it doesn't represent the 'general will" of students, and could possibly be against it;
- The strength of students is dependent on the strength of the student union. Allowing anyone to opt out of the union would be seen as weakening the expression of the general will of the students. It is an attack on students.
- Students collectively can decide to allow for opting out of membership of their unions, but if they choose not to allow that, then students can't complain. It is the general will of students whether or not they want voluntary student membership.
- Those who wish to contradict this are "anti student" even if they are students.
That twisted perverse logic is what Gareth Hughes is expressing.
He claims making all student unions voluntary somehow takes away the right for students to choose because to him students have a "collective brain".
It's complete snake oil and quite disgusting. If students want to be represented by a student's union they should feel free to set one up by choice or join one, by choice. If they don't then let it be.
It is a diversion to claim universities would charge the same money and fund the association itself. Universities shouldn't do that either.
It's so simple. If students don't want student unions (and their services) then they fail.
Most importantly, if any individual student does not want a union to represent her or him, then the student union should get the hell out of the way.
and the unreformed Leninist merchants of Orwellian collectivism should not get in the way of this!