Monday, March 28, 2011

Fee "Hikeido"

Australia -- Following a fee increase imposed on Melbourne University sports clubs, the kung fu club has reportedly accused the campus sports association of racism and lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission, according to watoday.com.au.

The University Sport claim the increase it was unavoidable due to a revenue shortfall caused by a government ban on collecting union fees from students.

Kung Fu Club students says the clubs most affected are international students - predominantly Asian - who are being shut out of campus sports following the fee hike.

According to policies, a club which is not competing must pay a per-hour room hire fee. On the other hand, free training space is provided free to the clubs which are preparing for competition.

The complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission allegedly includes a support statement from other campus martial arts units, including the aikido and karate clubs.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was pretty surprised that the Kung Fu club has decided to take this route. It sounds to me like Melbourne Uni has decided to support those clubs which add to its "prestige" through competition - something I disagree with (as it fails to recognise the contribution which other clubs make) but not something based on racism. It certainly isn't a fair distribution of funding and support however and I definitely agree that the issue should be persued - however not for these reasons or in this way.
I've previously been the president of a university martial arts club and know that often university sports organisations can be worked with. Formally lodging a request for similar funding for all clubs, pointing out the lack of fairness and the fact that they may be inadvertently disadvantaging a significant number of international students would have been far more appropriate. There is also the option of a petition with other affected clubs, demonstrations - so many other steps which could (and should) be taken.

By claiming racism and discrimination the whole thing will just be thrown out and will get nowhere. The entirely valid issue will then fail to be addressed.

Torbjorn Arntsen said...

Thanks for your comment! And I would like to add that you're probably right - throwing the race card seldom works in any situation...

Anonymous said...

I agree, the racism excuse might be stretching things a bit. But the fact is that there IS an unequitable distribution of funds favouring more "traditional" competitive sports at the expense of clubs like martial arts whos prime purpose is for teaching the average uni student about self defense. MU sport claims that they had to implement fees due to cuts in funding since the implementation of VSU yet the rowing club was given 3 million for a boat house extension, plus an extra 40000 on top of that, and competing clubs aren't made to pay for training spaces either. In doing so, MUS is failing to take into account the contributions of the of non competing clubs to the wider university community. Most students are hard pressed as it is to fork out a good 100-200 dollars a year to join these clubs, and the fees will have to be increased even further if they were forced to pay for training space as well, which will inevitably drastically drop the number of members in these clubs.It should be pointed out also that VSU was implemented in all universities, yet the martial arts clubs in RMIT and Swinburne still receive grants to help with the running of their clubs.

I believe this rent war has been going on for quite a while now, and while ideally , yes, there are many other steps that could be taken, the fact is that MUS has turned a deaf ear to their pleas ( it IS a relatively small club), and this is probably a last ditch attempt to attract some attention to their plight before they are forced to close down. It is the first club to already lose its training space - the other martial arts clubs are giving in to paying MUS, but even they can't keep this up for long. In MUS's eyes, they are already being "reasonable" for providing training space at a "discounted" rate to these clubs, yet are looking to increase the rent to commercial hourly rates later in the year. Given the premises are owned by Melbourne University sport and presumably receive some kind of funding from the university, and these clubs train there mainly after hours, MUS's excuse that they're losing revenue that they could be earning from renting out the training spaces commercially is a weak one indeed. And even so, the space should be utilised by university students and not exploited for money-making purposes as it is now.If the university clubs are forced to rent the space at commercial rates, what is there to distinguish them from any other commercial club outside of campus? There would be no incentive for them to exist under Melbourne University any longer. So yes, while taking the racist stand might be a bit extreme, there is no doubt that they DO have a valid reason to feel agrieved indeed.