Activists at SHAC have been doing an amazing job of doing something a wittle boring, a wittle icky… namely, bureaucratic activism! Hurrah! We prepared a comprehensive document to take to University Council on the 20th of October. Unfortunately someone objected to our paper being tabled. After anxious nights spent carefully translating everything we wished to say into unimelb-bureaucratic-language (think newspeak with grandiose metaphors) we were heartbroken. Luckily we managed to distribute our report amongst council members anyway and the wonderful student representatives on council were able to generate discussion around it.

In a nutshell the report contained a concrete proposal for the feasibility of a low-cost student housing co-operative at 272-278 Faraday St, Carlton. There were building renovation costings, financial models, co-operative social models, proposed income sources, examples of the co-op model operating overseas and locally… In short, we are very bloody serious and the whole project is very, very possible.

But wait this story of wrangling in the posher corridors of Unimelb has another twist (sorry I’m trying to make it as interesting as possible). There was also a report presented under the auspices of the Vice-Chancellor which threatened to de-rail SHAC. Luckily our glorious student reps were able to twist and turn and spice up the VC’s report.

The following motions resulted:

1. A statement of support for student groups seeking to develop student housing co-operatives that are directed towards the needs of low-income students unable to secure housing. (Hopefully this means that they support SHAC…)

2. Introduction of a one-off grant scheme to encourage the establishment of student co-operatives. (In the grand tradition of creating grants that will never be applied for. They are talking to the tune of $3000-5000. not really anything if you haven’t got a building.)

3. Extension of student housing services operation to incorporate advice and information on requirements for the establishment of student housing co-operatives.

4. An examination led by the Vice-principal of Property and Campus Services, the Student Housing Services and interested students into steps the University might take into securing forms of social housing in Northern Melbourne. (Yep, that’s the goodun.)

So we're hoping this fourth motion means a chance for SHAC representatives to further our proposal to convert Faraday St into an affordable housing co-operative.

Stay tuned...

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