The UTS Union has refused to affiliate itself with the UTS chapter of the Australian Chinese Youth Association (ACYA).
The apolitical, not- for- profit society aims to foster bilateral relations and networking opportunities between Australian and Chinese students and has two active chapters at UNSW and USYD.
However the UTS Union Clubs and Societies Officer, Laura Earl, rejected the club’s application on the grounds that it was too similar to an existing group on campus, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), and that the Union didn’t want to, and would “never have two Chinese clubs on campus”.
According to the ACYA founders, the Union advised them to team up with the existing Union- affiliated CSSA to make “one big Chinese students group”.
The C&S Officer, Laura Earl said that bringing an outsider organisation onto the campus was unfavourable, and suggested that a streamlined umbrella group would be a more feasible option.
“If they wanted to start a general Australian- Chinese group, it would definitely be something we can consider. I’m all for building relationships between Australian and Chinese students but we won’t do it under an external organisation’s name,” she said.
The founders of the UTS ACYA found the Union’s suggestion impractical due to the intrinsically different aims of the two clubs. The CSSA, in contrast to the ACYA, serves mainly to support Chinese nationals studying overseas. It is an external organisation which receives a bulk of its funding from the Chinese government. Its society executive must be approved by government officials and the organisation’s website is almost exclusively written in Chinese.
It should be noted that the CSSA established a relationship with the UTS Union prior to Ms Earl taking up the role of C&S officer.
The on-campus rejection of the locally- founded ACYA is notable, given the steps taken by UTS Council this year to solidify UTS’ connections to Chinese universities (as reported in the last edition of Vertigo) through exchange partnerships and greater patronage. It’s clear that while administration is pursuing these links with an official agenda, this might be a concept that’s ‘foreign’ to uni bodies lower down on the ladder.
ACYA is now looking into other official university channels like the BUiLD program and the International Studies Faculty to receive official backing.