As Woroni goes to print, a literal truckload of beer is being unloaded into the Union’s cool rooms. The steins are on the way, and we’ve heard rumours that Fyshwick’s out of lederhosen. Oktoberfest has become ANU’s favourite social event, ironically run by ANU’s least-favourite student organisation.
Importantly though, Oktoberfest shows us that the Union can do things brilliantly given the right circumstances. On 11th October, the Union is hosting an Ordinary General Meeting (OGM) to consider the first changes to the constitution in over 20 years. These will make elections fairer, make us more accountable to students, and begin the forging of strong ties with the ANU Students’ Association and the Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association.
Deserved or not, the reputation of the Union has been sinking at a titanic rate in recent years. Whether it’s the timeworn building, the pizza at Cucina de Pasta, or an apparent lack of Board transparency, everyone on campus seems to have some kind of gripe.
But what about the wider picture? It’s easy to whinge about problems, especially if they seem easy to fix. Unfortunately, and without sounding defeatist, there are factors at play that might serve as roadblocks to real change.
The building is a good example. Huge underutilised commercial kitchens, a leaking roof with a replacement price tag of $450,000, and the 1970s brutalist architecture don’t help. While we don’t pay rent, we certainly pay for capital maintenance, which costs over $500,000 a year. This equates to roughly 10 per cent of revenues, exceeding the 8 per cent figure that tells you a business might be in trouble. No one really knows who’s ultimately responsible for the building upkeep, which is something we’ll be following up on.
Equally, we’ve also got some great strengths. Our underpinning structure is rock solid – as students, we know what students want better than any private business. We know you’ll love the price-cut to beer, and the introduction of sangria and Pimm’s. In 2013 you can also expect delicious burgers at the bar, a student-run international canteen and a revamped Clubs and Societies Ballroom with spirits in every drinks package.
So, when you’re at Oktoberfest next month, give a thought to the organisation behind the event. Don’t forget that we’re here solely to serve you, and we’re always keen to hear what you’ve got to say. Unsurprisingly, considering our antiquated Constitution, we need 100 members at our OGM. So, in getting the Oktoberfest spirit flowing early, we encourage every student to get in on a generous bar tab and delicious free food.
Dallas Proctor is a member of the ANU Union Board.