Friday, November 04, 2005

The Student-Run Bar: Is it really such a good idea?

First off, a couple of pictures I find amusing. I know I've mentioned it to a number of you, but hey, I'm bored. And yes, these were also taken using my mobile, so picture quality sucks...

Near the entrance to the Bar:


Then when you walk around the corner...


Now, is it just me, or is that a little contradictory? ;)
(Yes, I'm well aware that it's just graffiti. I just find it amusing, is all.)

So anyway, as I'm sure most of you are aware, the Bar has been operating without a license ever since the student takeover. I'm pretty sure, since the alcohol license is owned by the uni/Monyx, and these guys are pretty much squatting there. It also occurred to me recently that they never ask for ID when you go in and get a drink, no matter how young you look. I guess, in a way, I've known for some time, but I just never really saw the implications (I have better things to do, most of the time).

Now, the MSA has done pretty radical things before (like a certain student demonstration last year when the demonstrators stormed the administration block and caused A$10,000 worth of damages), but they frequently manage to pull off good things to, like better food on campus and pushing for better transport services. MSA Transport Div is even helping take a stand in pushing for transport concessions for us internationals, though I doubt it'll make much difference after 14 years (I think) of failed protests.

So they do quite a lot of good for the students, even for us internationals. And the unreasonable, irresponsible or sometimes downright idiotic stuff they do (in my opinion, of course) is oftentimes no more extreme than most other Aussie unions. But seriously, running a stolen, unlicensed, underage drinking bar is not just stupid, it's illegal.

Last year, I expressed my disappointment about the demonstrations to some of you. This year it's The Bar. How do we fight Voluntary Student Unionism when our very own representative organisation is taking part in illegal activities? Won't this just go right ahead and prove the government's point that student unions are more trouble than they're worth?

I know that, at the end of the day, we're (MUISS) a department of the MSA. But this isn't the first time we've had conflict of policy, and I dare say it won't be the last. Should we really be condoning actions such as these? Can it be that MSA hasn't considered the implications of such actions? Aren't there any legal approaches that can be taken instead?

I guess it doesn't really affect me since I'm leaving soon, but I felt someone had to point it out.


Note: A brief explanation of what's happening, for you folks who have no idea what I'm going on about. Monyx is a uni-owned, largely autonomous company that was set up to run some of the commercial services around our campus, like the sports center. They also own and (used to) operate The Bar, which is a bar in uni for staff and students (duh). Around mid-year, they decided to shut down said bar and run it as a function room, presumably because it wasn't making any money. No one actually knows the real reason behind this. This action angered (some of) the student population, who weren't consulted before the decision was made. Supposedly, more students would have started patronising the place if they'd known, but that's highly debatable.

So anyway, a bunch of students, supported by the Monash Student Association (MSA) decided to physically takeover the Bar by squatting there and refusing to leave. I think some of them still stay there overnight just in case. The Bar was reopened and is still under student control to this day. Negotiations are supposedly being carried out with Monyx.

MUISS is the Monash University International Students Service, which is a division of the MSA. I'm not going to link to them because the website is a disgrace. (Seriously, do something about it, guys.)

Disclaimer: As always, all this is based solely on what I've observed and what I understand from the situation. If I've been misinformed, or am just downright wrong, feel free to let me know. :)

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2 comments:

said...

Din knoe that the bar became like dis.. thats how long i never been to uni***

Congrats on finishing your final paper *fingers crossed for u*

I cant wait to grad... but so disappointed with myself in having to finish 1 more unit off.

Don't forget to leave a day free to drink with me before u leave ok? <3

Wardi said...

Wow. Talk about a blast from the past! ;-)

Good to hear from you, Gav! :-)