Union for university, U for Union?

The Nanyang Chronicle, 6th March 2006

E-mails are being circulated among NTU students about possible protests soon. Teng Kie Zin and Gary Goh, a first-year School of Communication and Information student and a second-year Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering student respectively, have separately attempted to organise movements to express dissatisfaction with the school.

Their decision to work without the Students’ Union (SU) has highlighted the failure of the SU to “provide a recognised means of communication between members of the Union and the University” as mandated in their constitution. This is despite the SU’s efforts to organise channels of feedback, like the dialogue session.

Most importantly, the SU has failed “to promote and safeguard the interests of the members of the Union within the University” as stated in its constitution.

Its inability to get the support of the students can be attributed to the fact that it cannot change things.

For instance, why was it unable to negotiate an earlier release of the news of the fee hike even though they knew beforehand? It would have helped to diffuse much of the unhappiness felt by the students now.

One of the problems is that the administration did not engage the SU enough in decision-making and instead left it the job of appeasing and explaining decisions like the fee hike to the students. Thus, the SU acts like the official voice of the school more than the voice of the students.

With the means of communication between the administration and students monopolised by the former, many students have turned apathetic, feeling that it takes too much to change things. Others, like Teng and Goh, have instead chosen to bypass the SU and speak directly to the administration instead.

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