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A suggestion for students

Written By: - Date published: 10:39 am, September 27th, 2010 - 151 comments
Categories: activism, education, local government, Unions - Tags: ,

Tories are shirkers. They never want to do their share, whether it is paying the taxes that run our country, taking the action necessary to save our environment, or supporting institutions that work for the collective good. I sometimes wonder if they ever stop to think at all about where all the community institutions and services around them come from — if they make any connection between paying their taxes (which they hate) and using the roads, schools, hospitals and libraries (which they take for granted).

So, inevitably, they’re at it again, attacking another community services institution, Student Unions:

Student Union Bill likely to become law

A bill to allow voluntary student union membership has passed an important stage in Parliament and is likely to become law. ACT MP Heather Roy’s Education (Freedom of Association) Bill has been given the green light by a select committee and will have its second reading around mid-October. “Tertiary students are currently compelled to join a student association if they want to study and are the only people who are forced to join a union, although many of these associations don’t actually represent the views of the majority of students,” Mrs Roy said. …

Labour’s tertiary education spokesman, Grant Robertson, said voluntary membership would destroy representation, advocacy and services students received from their associations. “Under this bill student associations will struggle to attract members at the start of a year when they are facing high tuition fees and other costs,” he said. “If this bill passes it will be National that carries the blame for reducing the quality of student experience…when we are returned to government we will repeal this legislation.” …

The Union of Student Associations (NZUSA) said National and ACT MPs on the committee had paid no attention to public submissions. “The committee received and heard overwhelming evidence that students are served well by students’ associations under the current law,” said NZUSA co-president David Do. “National is choosing to reward a discredited fringe party by supporting this unwanted, unwarranted, destructive ACT Party bill.”

I suspect that part of this drive to gut the student community and experience comes from a blind, knee-jerk reaction to the word “Union”. “Student Union” — it’s a union so it must be evil. Let’s stamp it out!

My suggestion to students is to reorganise and rebrand, not as unions, but as local government. Reach an agreement with your local Council to become a branch of local government and charge students rates. All the right wing rhetoric about being “compelled” to join an evil union loses its force — everyone is compelled to pay local government rates. Even tories.

Yeah I know, I’m not a lawyer, and there’s probably a million reasons that it wouldn’t work, but none the less I think the underlying idea is worth exploring in some form. Student Unions aren’t “unions” at all in any traditional sense, they are much more like local governments. Rebrand, charge rates instead of fees, the compulsion argument is gone. But keep doing what you do! Student organisations contribute so much to the rich life of a campus. What sort of idiot would want to be without them?

151 comments on “A suggestion for students”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    “Compulsory” means student unions get money as of right. There is no incentive whatsoever to offer value for money to the students.

    “Voluntary” means student unions will have to convince students why it is their best interests to pay fees to the union. There is considerable incentive for them to improve and augment their services so they can market an attractive package to students.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      “Compulsory” means student unions get money as of right. There is no incentive whatsoever to offer value for money to the students.

      Of course you’re completely ignoring the fact that Student Union officers get voted out if they aren’t doing the job that they should be, just like Councillors and MPs.

      Further these student unions rely on both goodwill and volunteers from the student membership itself to be truly effective.

      Therefore Student Unions have every incentive to “offer value for money”, thanks.

      By the way, idealistic free market concepts of “markets” and “competition” are completely inappropriate in some areas of society. In others where they seem to have use they can easily end up more hurtful to people than helpful when actually applied practically.

      • Swampy 1.1.1

        How many votes does it take to elect a SU officer and what is the typical turnout in an election?

    • Roger 1.2

      Student Unions that are voluntary have to spend large sums of money convincing students that joining is in their best interests. This costs around $40,000 per year at the university I went to. Duplicating this across all larger tertiary institutions and you have a large amount of current students money spent on attracting new members to join instead of providing services.

      The other issue is that if there is no compulsion to join, then the university itself sees no compulsion to accommodate or support a student union, reducing its power to provide an attractive package to students.

      • Swampy 1.2.1

        No they don’t have to spend this money, they choose to but the fact is that lots of other organisations in society don’t spend such large sums of money trying to persuade people to join because they recognise that there are many competing interests that people have.

        • Maynard J 1.2.1.1

          No, they have to spend the money because of apathy and freeloaders. Economies of scale require high levels of participation to be cost effective, so without universal membership, they must waste time and money getting people to join to make it workable.

  2. The Baron 2

    Most, if not all, of the organisations are actually called Associations, and don’t really identify as Unions at all.

    It is only the exceptionally useless NZUSA that decided, for ideological reasons, to rebrand with Union in the title. Solidarity forever and all that – snort.

    • Rebecca 2.1

      Baron, NZUSA changed its name to reflect the fact that it had members from polytechnics. It went for union of students associations because it allowed them to keep the acronym they’d had for 80 years.

      • The Baron 2.1.1

        And the only word that could achieve those goals was Union?

        Another example of the wombats at NZUSA leading their members towards oblivion.

        • Rebecca 2.1.1.1

          To be fair, I don’t think people were anti the word union – its definitely not a dirty word in my book. Just correcting your assertion that it was done for ideological reasons, which is not true.

          • The Baron 2.1.1.1.1

            And to be fairer, as an ex-member of some of these Associations, I certainly object to the name Union.

            Another example of NZUSA listening to its inner sanctum of aspirant labour party politicians and not to the people it purported to represent, me thinks!

            • bbfloyd 2.1.1.1.1.1

              hypocrisy is actually quite ugly when practiced with enough arrogance. playing obnoxious partisan political word games actually strengthens the case for stronger student representation.

  3. CW 3

    As a student, F U, I do not want to be forced to be part of some half-arsed organisation

    • Rebecca 3.1

      CW, you weren’t forced to be part of anything. You could opt out of membership on conscientious objections or hardship grounds. This is almost never refused. Or you could organise a petition for a referendum and make your own association voluntary. All under existing legislation. Let’s be clear, this issue has nothing to do with freedom of association. Students already have it.

      • Lanthanide 3.1.1

        Others on here have reported that it was very difficult to opt out of the UCSA, and when they did they didn’t get their money back, instead it was “donated to a charity”.

        • mcflock 3.1.1.1

          why the quotation marks? Was it not donated to a charity?

        • Vicky32 3.1.1.2

          How much money are you whinging about here? From memory, the last time I was studying at a tertiary institution (UNITEC in 2002-3) it was from memory, about $40.00. (On the scale of costs, high fees for papers etc, it was hardly noticeable. ) I think the real issue is the testeria some people feel when confronted by the word union! 😀
          Deb

      • Swampy 3.1.2

        Freedom of association means I don’t have to join AND I don’t have to pay fees. The opt out never includes the ability to opt out of paying fees.

        • mcflock 3.1.2.1

          that’s freedom to not pay the fees to a third party, not freedom of association.

          If you don’t want to pay the fees to a third party, don’t go to that university. It’s a bit like me not wanting to give money to Cadbury’s (for a variety of reasons), so I don’t buy their chocolate. I need to eat, but I don’t need to eat Cadburys chocolate.

      • Clint Heine 3.1.3

        Bzzzt, Rebecca I\’ll butt in there and say that isn\’t exactly true. No association has ever submitted figures in the VSM submissions or in public about how many students have been granted conscientious objection for any reason. In fact some associations/unions have also admitted that they don\’t even advertise this option.

        There are horror stories of where students have tried and have been harrassed by the their union for trying to. You are NOT allowed to leave OUSA for instance, if you disagree with their political campaigning. You need to provide a proper reason and then you have to wait for a while in order to get a response. Don\’t forget that if you are successful, you don\’t get your money back either.

        • mcflock 3.1.3.1

          interesting Clint – in the debate earlier this year (maybe last year?) the pro-vsm crowd couldn’t point to a single instance of a person being refused CO.

          “Horror stories” don’t cut it – names and documentation do.

          • peteremcc 3.1.3.1.1

            Multiple students made submissions to the select committee detailing what happened when they tried to CO.

            Maybe you should actually do some research before spouting rubbish?

            • mcflock 3.1.3.1.1.1

              funny – they never bother bringing it up in the vsm discussions down here. I guess that just goes to show that the defenders of freedom prefer the issue to be solved by a dictat from wellington rather than local democracy.

              Oh wait – that would have given the sa a right of reply as to the accuracy of their claims. Hmmmm.

              • So does one hearing where you didn’t hear it mean it didn’t happen elsewhere? That’s a rather curious response.

                I remember at Otago where I was told where I could go if I even asked about the form to fill in. It wasn’t very nice mind you.

                • mcflock

                  actually, if indeed that is the case, it would be the first time in 15 years that somebody has managed to mention a specific case.

                  The “curious response” is to run straight to parliament, rather than solving the problem at the level it occurs.

                  • An even worse response would be to deliberately rip up a referendum collecting signatures in front of other students at Vic Clubs Day – which followed with silence from the student union.

                    Several hundred signatures, collected over weeks – destroyed by a union activist…acting locally, being shafted locally! 🙂

                    • IrishBill

                      It’s kind of embarrassing to watch a middle-aged man get so worked up about student politics.

                    • Irish Bill – err, I am probably younger than you and work with students on a day to day basis.

                    • felix

                      Very true Irish, the saddest thing about arrested development is that the sufferer is always so cringefully unaware of just how transparent their problem is.

                      Clint always reminds me of this guy.

                    • I didn’t think middle ages included people in their early to mid 30’s but if that is your definition, that you back up with insults then it just proves that you can’t come up with an answer to the questions posed.

    • Colonial Viper 3.2

      Perhaps you can see that these organisations are here to help you and to give you a voice. If you want to make them better and more effective, volunteer an hour or two a week to help your local students association to organise.

      Or maybe you just don’t really give a **** in which case why should we give your opinion much weight?

      • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1

        I suspect that he’s personally never directly used the services provided and so just sees the cost and not the benefits that, indirectly, he still enjoys.

        • mcflock 3.2.1.1

          or more likely that he’s used some services that were the result of the students’ associations labours, but doesn’t know it.

          My favourite example is blind marking – most people I’ve encountered who get worked up about students’ association membership were, to put it mildly, self-absorbed arrogant semi-literates. Harsh but I think fair. Being tossers who come up with some outrageous statements, I always felt that they were folk who really needed their papers to be marked anonymously on the grounds that they’d probably offended their tutor/lecturer during the semester.

      • bbfloyd 3.2.2

        well said C V.

      • Former Rep 3.2.3

        As a former VUWSA Executive Member, I can tell you that most Student Associations/Unions are just breeding grounds for future (mostly left-wing) politicians. They claim to represent students yet their annual elections attract less than 5% of the entire student body, executive members more often than not put their personal political affiliations (usually Labour Party but sometimes Workers Party or Alliance) above the needs or wants of students, and the majority of students don’t use the “services” they provide. When I was an Exec Member representation and advocacy equated to wasting money, time and resources lobbying the government for a universal student allowance, which they didn’t get and NEVER will.

        Associations should be opt-in, not opt-out, particularly as the opt-out procedure is purposefully made difficult so people give up. Furthermore, if I opt out I should be able to get my money back and not have to donate the money to a charity of the Student Association’s/Union’s choice like at VUWSA. The principle is that people can join their Student Association if they believe it has merit. Yes, it might be a bit harder for Associations/Unions because they might actually have to be transparent and provide services that actually benefit ALL students, not just people accused of academic misconduct or who need a hardship grant because they spent all their weekly allowance on alcohol (I have personally seen this!), but it’s better than the tyranny of the majority we have now.

  4. djp 4

    > Rebrand, charge rates instead of fees, the compulsion argument is gone

    Perhaps you should look up the meaning of the word compulsion Rob

    • r0b 4.1

      I din’t say the compulsion was gone djp – I said the argument is gone. No one seriously argues that it is illegitimate to pay compulsorylocal body rates do they? What Student Associations provide is very much like local government services.

      • djp 4.1.1

        I think you just created one more argument against local body rates Rob.

      • What Universities provide through their levies (at Vic, it was student health, the gym, learning support, the careers service, the accommodation service, welfare grants to students in need, etc.) is somewhat akin to local government (and indeed, Universities are governed in part by the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act). What Students’ Associations tended to provide (advocacy, events, magazine, sports clubs, etc.) was a lot more like a neighbourhood association or ratepayers’ lobby.

        • Pete 4.1.2.1

          And just because I didn’t use Student Union services in the second and third year, I think it was worth the money I paid all three years to get into a student hostel via Accommodation Services in my first year – before I knew the pros and cons of voluntary membership or compulsion.

          Oh, and the Salient wasn’t too bad.

          So, I’m for some form of compulsion to support the services provided.

          Personally I see most of the arguments from the ‘antis’ based on claims of student politicians preparing for Labour candidacy. A bit reductive and out-of-touch really.

          • Graeme Edgeler 4.1.2.1.1

            I think it was worth the money I paid all three years to get into a student hostel via Accommodation Services in my first year…

            Except the Accommodation Service has nothing to do with VUWSA. The Accommodation service is paid for through the Student Service Levy and is wholly administered by the University.

            • Clint Heine 4.1.2.1.1.1

              That’s the problem, VUWSA for instance were quite happy to not advertise the differences between the association ley, and the other levies that are not part of the VSM bill. This is deliberate and rather naughty.

        • Ed 4.1.2.2

          As an ex-Vic student, I think I remember Stud Ass money being used to build (with assistance from one or both VUW or government) an extension to the Stud Ass building. I had thought that the Student Association Building was run by Stud Ass, but hat the Gym was provided by the University. I was also under the impression that the Rugby Club received support from Stud Ass, but that the field (which is just going through a huge makeover to have artificial turf) was maintained by the University.

          Perhaps the intention is to have the University itself responsible for provision of essential student services and support for student clubs, sports groups, tournaments etc – presumably funded by a general increase in course fees. That would result in total management by the Council without necessarily having student or involvement – it sort of fits the arrogance of the Supercity; the ‘we shall centralise all decision making’ attitude of National/ACT – but also perhaps the reality that to be successful a university must have a vibrant student community, provide for involvement of students in the affairs of the university – perhaps even have an independent formal student representative body – which leads us back to a Student Association . . . If a students association went out of existence, would a university eventually create one anyway?

  5. rich 5

    I’d be happy with this if I could also opt out of my share of the VCs salary.

  6. SHG 6

    In the nineties, when I tried it, it was not possible to opt out of my Uni’s student union. I can’t think of a single thing that the student union did with my money that was worthwhile.

    Oh, other than the Tetris coin-op machine at the student union building, that was awesome. But not exactly what I expected a student union to be spending my money on.

    • bbfloyd 6.1

      SHG… then you obviously havn’t been thinking too hard have you?

    • mcflock 6.2

      that’s interesting – at my uni the NACTs couldn’t come up with a single example of anyone who’d applied for and not been granted conscientious objector status. Ever.

      • Clint Heine 6.2.1

        And no association ever has publicised where a student has been granted it. Nor do they mention that you don’t get your money back.

        The MAWSA President said that her union didn’t even advertise the C/O option to students.

        • mcflock 6.2.1.1

          “The MAWSA President said that her union didn’t even advertise the C/O option to students.”

          Hmmm – that sounds familiar. ISTR the quote wasn’t quite so unequivocal as you suggest.

          needs improvement =/= burn it down.

          Besides, if nobody knows about it then your gang’s advertising is just as bad. After all, you’ve been bitching about it for over a decade! Without a single patsy coming up with their rejection letter…

          • Colonial Viper 6.2.1.1.1

            needs improvement =/= burn it down.

            yeah, too bad the right deliberately ignore this in their quest to weaken and destroy civil institutions.

          • Clint Heine 6.2.1.1.2

            The exact quote was:
            ““““““““““““`
            Sorenson said the onus was on associations to inform members of their options.

            “The legislation clearly states that students can conscientiously object, however I think student associations… should be stating in their pamphlets that you can actually do this.

            “It’s not something that we advertise”, she said.
            ““““““““““““““““
            Sounds awfully clear to me, not only that but she almost insinuates that it isn’t happening elsewhere either.

        • Rebecca 6.2.1.2

          The MAWSA President is a man, and in their written submission he said that they had made a determined effort to promote the rights to withdraw.

          • mcflock 6.2.1.2.1

            I think Clint is referring to half of a quote in a news article from last year. I would accuse him of over-analysing it, but…

            • Clint Heine 6.2.1.2.1.1

              Or a full quote that makes it very loud and clear what she was saying:

              http://mediadarlings.net/2009/09/13/some-validity-to-vsm-lobby-mawsa-president/

              No half quotes required. she even sticks the boot into VUWSA\’s political activities… much of which has led to the VSM movement picking up a gear last year.

              • mcflock

                meh – even if it wasn’t half-assed bullshit in a biased web story, you’d still have to get over the fact that you guys have advertised it ad nauseum yourselves for freaking years. still no hordes of oppressed students yearning to be free.

                • Touche! So now this magazine web site ins’t to your liking because some student president said a little too much to her interviewer. The author was a writer for Scoop, hardly a right wing biased website.

                  What about the fact that nobody got their money back after going through the longwinded CO process? Surely people have got other things to do on campus like… shock horror… study?

    • Swampy 6.3

      Very true. What is provided can be provided by other organisations for a fraction of the cost.

      • mcflock 6.3.1

        such as independent advocacy when marks are disputed? Who provides that?

        What about political lobbying on democratically chosen student issues? Who provides that?

        What about student representation on university councils and committees where representatives are chosen by an independent student body? Who provides that?

        etc etc etc

        Oh, and remember to support your “fraction of the cost”.

        • Colonial Viper 6.3.1.1

          Well he probably won’t because he’s just interested in seeing another civil institution trashed and students returning to simply having to fend for themselves. Typical right wing approach – divide and rule.

  7. SjS 7

    This is stupid. I went back to uni this year (part time) at VUW. The student union fees a quite low compared to the ridiculous $500 ‘student services levy’ that the university (somehow) makes you pay for services that most people don’t actually need … the Government should be trying to stamp out blatant cash grabs by universities, rather than the small fees that we pay to student associations who actually do something!

    …the only thing I’ve ever seen come out of the administration at VUW (which my $500 fee paid for??) is a stupid column in the paper by the vice-chancellor about how we should all pay more tuition fees … even though in his day education was free.

    • Richard 7.1

      Anecdotally, the “student services levy” is being used by the universities to claw back some of the budget shortfall, due to the government capping funded students. Some universities are in the position that they are only funded for about 90% of the students that attend.

      So, the “student services levy” is paying for what the government won’t; libraries, computing resources, etc.

      • mcflock 7.1.1

        ISTR a number of sundry levies at Otago, including a “welfare & recreation” levy which covered the health service and the gymn.

        • Clint Heine 7.1.1.1

          OUSA banned their gym from advertising that they wouldn’t be affected by the VSM bill due to it being a seperate levy altogether.

          • mcflock 7.1.1.1.1

            Oh, you mean the gymn it owns 40% of and needs to come up with a corresponding amount of dosh to relocate it to the new stadium?

            So even if you’re right, then:
            failure to come up with the capital from student levies -> loss of ownership in new gym site -> loss of the governance that you’re complaining about being exercised.

            So yeah, affected.

            • Clint Heine 7.1.1.1.1.1

              Nope, I’m talking about the gym that is covered by the Health and Recreation Levy which would not be affected by the VSM bill. – and this was very much the case during the VSM campaign in 99.

              So it was a direct and deliberate action to misinform the students. The phonecall I got from the gym manager furious that he was being bullied by OUSA into this was quite apparent.

              • mcflock

                UNIPOL, right?

                The gym which is 40% owned by OUSA, but gets its operating budget from the health and recreation levy. Capital expenditure comes from the owners – including OUSA.

                You moron.

                • now now, you have done so well so far to start the name calling…

                  UNIPOL yes. The same gym that is hardly used but has its own levy essentially protecting it from VSM. I do not recall seeing any investment/expenditure from OUSA towards UNIPOL in any budget available online….

    • student2010 7.2

      That $500 fee actually pays for most of the best things that people think their student union is doing for them.

      Oh yeah, and the student union wastes their time and our money on trying to increase that services levy with stupid proposals like free printing.

      • Colonial Viper 7.2.1

        And so you’ve actually got involved with your Student Association in order to influence their views, yeah? Sat down with exec members and put your perspective forward?

        If not, maybe you should get involved, thats how democratic organisations perform at their best, you know.

        • student2010 7.2.1.1

          Democratic organisations perform at their best when the incentives for those leading them actually drive them to carry out their tasks for the benefit of those that the represent.

          CSM hasn’t allowed this because the personal costs to individuals to achieve that ideal are less than both the cost of joining a political group and subverting the processes (such as times in the past where VUWSA has had its constitutions and democratic processes disgracefully and shamelessly violated) or the costs of apathy. Leaders currently get elected either if they are backed by a powerful political group or if their proposed plan of action radically favours the small proportion of the student population in special interest groups whose vote can be bought with money of the rest.

          At least VSM would bring back functioning incentives for students and leaders to let the SU behave more like a democracy that a military junta. One of the most important mechanisms by which will be done will be by students “voting with their feet”. If the student unions are doing a terrible job, subverting their constitutions, democratic processes or not making an effort to appeal to students as a group, then students will simply not be a part of the union.

          After two years of trying it your way CV, I came to the realisation that it cannot work.

          • Colonial Viper 7.2.1.1.1

            No doubt you’ll be happy when Student Associations are decimated over the next year or two. NACT will be.

            At least VSM would bring back functioning incentives for students and leaders to let the SU behave more like a democracy that a military junta.

            What the hell are you talking about. “Military junta”? Don’t make me laugh. You want to compare our student associations with countries like Myanmar?

            If the student unions are doing a terrible job, subverting their constitutions, democratic processes or not making an effort to appeal to students as a group, then students will simply not be a part of the union.

            Oh yeah, now explain to me how a first year student who turns up on Day 1 to pay their fees is going to now anything about this?

            And as I have already said and you completely ignored – officers who do not do their job today can be voted out today – without the legislation designed to destroy the very civic institutions you claim to value. All it takes is for the membership to get involved i.e. for you to actually campaign as per a democratic system.

        • Clint Heine 7.2.1.2

          Last time I sat down with exec members they threw a chair at me and burned my ACT leaflets. 🙂

          Democratic bodies like the AA and our Church don\’t need forced membership to influence their decisions. The CTU do rather well too without all workers being forced to join.

          • mcflock 7.2.1.2.1

            so your logic is that it doesn’t hurt the AA (really? how much of its services now involves insurance rather t han direct assistance at the time?), so it won’t hurt students associations?

            Bit of a logical flaw there, not to mention the fact that it’ll hurt students – stuff the associations.

            • Clint Heine 7.2.1.2.1.1

              I mean that student unions have less legal standing than the AA, and yet the AA provides membership perks, representation, advocacy and other important and sundry benefits for its members – and yet I don’t see you arguing that every driver should join them. The same with churches.

              Which students will be hurt? The 98% that NZUSA said that opposed VSM or the “vast majority” that supports free education – that NZUSA told us about? Surely if we are to believe the stats from NZUSA, which were regurgitated through all the anti VSM submissions – then all students will join their union when it becomes voluntary.

              • Macro

                You obviously have never attended a tertiary institution have you Clint.

                • Yep, I most certainly have attended, Macro. I am merely repeating the “facts” according to NZUSA. I know 98% of students won’t join their association, especially when they have cheerleaders like some of the people here working for them.

                  I have also worked with voluntary associations overseas too.

          • Vicky32 7.2.1.2.2

            “Last time I sat down with exec members they threw a chair at me and burned my ACT leaflets. 🙂 ”
            Oh, you were having a laugh! (Sorry, I have a bit Aspergers, and can’t identify humour… but this casts doubt on some of the other horror stories you’ve told..)
            Deb

            • Clint Heine 7.2.1.2.2.1

              How? It happened. I can laugh now because it was pretty pathetic. I asked about the levy in my 1st year and got punched too.
              When I got into the VSM campaign I got leaflets burned in front of me by executive officers.

              Makes me wonder what association you’re in with Deb.

  8. marsman 8

    Empirical studies show that Roger Douglas’ Bill would destroy services and amenities now available to all students. It is obvious that the destruction of any structure that provides benefit to many people is his aim,the words ‘freedom’ and ‘choice’ are used to hoodwink people into being compliant. Douglas and his ilk are misanthropists of the worst kind,vile.

    • MikeE 8.1

      just like they destroyed services at Auckland uni eh?

      oh wait.. that never happend now did it? Just stopped the exec from being able to speak on behalf of all the students they didn’t actually represent

    • The Baron 8.2

      I’d love to know how these “empirical” studies were conducted – do you know what empirical means?

      And even better, you’ll surely be able to educate us all with some links to these supposedly well known studies?

  9. tsmithfield 9

    Why not have a single student union that represents all students (who join voluntarily) from all universities and polytechs in NZ. This would result in a lot of savings in economies of scale and make the union viable on an income basis, even as a voluntary one.

    • AndyB 9.1

      agreed

      • grumpy 9.1.1

        Good idea. These organisations are slack because of the lack of involvement from the students themselves. As a previous comment has said, if they don’t like how their “Union” is run, get off their arse and change it themselves. In my day (albeit late ’60, early ’70s) Canterbury student’s Assn was bloody good!

    • bbfloyd 9.2

      same approach as was used to destroy union power by bill birch. look where that got us!!! parity with australia anyone?

      a few malcontents rubbishing the student reps and the work they do doesn’t actually translate into accepted wisdom, by the way..

  10. Bored 10

    Whilst ACT are up to it how about, for the sake of consistency we also get rid of the compulsion to join other “unions” (or put more pleasantly professional associations) such as the legal bodies, associations of Chartered Accountants, Colleges of Surgeons etc etc? I am sure that for the sake of the ideological premise for getting rid of unions and any other compulsory body which enforces standards, ethics and restricts membership etc, ACT will be in agreement with this?

    • rich 10.1

      I think they probably would.

      It’s about the only way Garrett will get to resume his legal career.

    • bbfloyd 10.2

      you’re right Bored…. we.ve tried everything else…. maybe it’s time to give unbridled anarchy a go… probably look more like the “free market” to most of us plebs..

    • Labour already made membership to the Law Society voluntary and the Real Estate institute voluntary. In fact that nice fulla Clayton Cosgrove himself said
      “We haven’t had compulsory unionism for 20 years. Why should I as a politician tell you or anybody else what you should belong to?….If you want to join the footy club, the workingmen’s club, the institute – go for it. It’s your choice and you should have that right.”

      Sounds good enough to me.

  11. Shaun 11

    I hate to break it to you, but unions are NOT government. There is no credible argument for forcing someone to join (bar “conscientious exemption” which procedurally is a farce), like no other union, association, club or society compells the populace to join. This is about a fundamental human right to freely associate yourself with whom you want.

    • r0b 11.1

      Cool, so, do I have the fundamental human right not to associate with my local Council then?

      • Bed Rater 11.1.1

        As much as I hate jumping in on the usual tired old arguments between the usual tired old parties, I refer to Shaun’s opening sentence, “.. unions are not Government”

        Local Council is Government.

      • Swampy 11.1.2

        You are not made to join that council.

        Councils are much more open and accountable in every way compared to a student association

        • felix 11.1.2.1

          “Joining” in the context of this discussion really means “paying”, in as far as if it were free to join a student ass I don’t think we’d be having the discussion at all.

          You certainly do have to pay your local council.

      • Clint Heine 11.1.3

        If your student union did anything remotely close to what your local council did then we could have this conversation, but that is an old tired excuse that was used and forgotten about by NZUSA in the 90’s.

    • mcflock 11.2

      argument one: freeloading
      It is impossible to confine many students’ association service benefits only to association members. Blind marking, mixed-gender flatting, senate policy of assignment marks returned within 3 weeks, student discounts at local businesses, and so on. Students who don’t want those particular benefits can go to another university or PTE for their academic qualifications.

      argument two: public good
      A students’ association has significantly greater leverage over the institution, local politics and as a lobbiest on the national stage if it represents the democratic opinions of all students (note this does not mean 100% agreement of all students. It’s called democracy – deal with it).

      argument three: the democratic principle
      What about the right of members to go to a university with a strong students association? Currently they can exercise their vote to decide whether the university association has compulsory membership or not: either by changing the association’s constitution or by getting a petition for a referendum completed. The only reason that this issue is being revisited by the tories is that MOST STUDENTS EITHER DON’T WANT OR DON’T CARE ABOUT GETTING VSM. Shoot, they can’t even get enough people (ISTR 1%) to sign a petition to have a referendum over it. So “voluntarism” is being imposed by the NACT government.

      argument four: get real
      For goodness’ sake, students’ associations aren’t death camps. How much effort do the NACTivists put into human rights in China or Burma or Fiji, or into child poverty in New Zealand, other other causes? But white upper-middle class teenagers paying an extra hundred or two to a students’ association (which, let’s fact it, it probably labour lite or national oriented anyway) is a freaking outrage. Get a life you hypocrites.

      • NickS 11.2.1

        argument four: get real
        For goodness’ sake, students’ associations aren’t death camps. How much effort do the NACTivists put into human rights in China or Burma or Fiji, or into child poverty in New Zealand, other other causes? But white upper-middle class teenagers paying an extra hundred or two to a students’ association (which, let’s fact it, it probably labour lite or national oriented anyway) is a freaking outrage. Get a life you hypocrites.

        This.

        I will also chuckle with glee at the morons writing into Canta complaining at the food and booze increases, and how they should get cheap gym membership and healthcare etc too despite not bothering to join the UCSA.

      • bbfloyd 11.2.2

        Well said again!!! Mcflock this time…

      • Swampy 11.2.3

        argument 1: all very strange, others can provide the services that really matter and the money doesn’t get wasted on ones that are a waste of time.

        argument 2: the majority of SAs represent only one political viewpoint and don’t consult with their members about it. Consequently it is valid to conclude that the main support base for CSM is political parties that resource and benefit from SA political activity.

        argument 3: a quorum of 30 able to make decisions for 8000 is not democratic, imagine the outcry if there was a turnout at local body or government elections with a turnout of 0.5%.

        • mcflock 11.2.3.1

          Argument 1: “others can provide the services that really matter and the money doesn’t get wasted on ones that are a waste of time”
          So getting essay marks back with meaningful feedback before the next one is due “doesn ‘t matter”?
          Nice.

          Argument 2: “…don’t consult with their members about it. ”
          Fundamentally false, as students’ associations I know of are registered incorporated societies (if you can name an exception, feel free). So they’re democratic by law. Not just electing officers, but they also democratically set external policy. And your second sentence is a non-sequiter.

          Argument 3: again, a source for your “quorum of 30”. And “quorum” is minimum, not maximum, participation.

      • Clint Heine 11.2.4

        Argument 1 – people already freeload off their association via radio stations and newspapers. The gains made from blind market etc are minimal and could have been achieved without forcing thousands of students to fund an association to prop up failing student media.

        2 – NZUSA has failed their local member unions for lobbying and are exclusively lobbying for the same policies as Labour and other left wing parties. Many unions have already left NZUSA, which ironically has voluntary membership themselves.

        3 – what about the rights for students to not be forced to pay for a union that supports a certain political ideology in order to get a degree? Most students don’t even vote or care about their union so why should they be punished because their union has developed a culture of apathy in order to collect levies without having to be up front about how they are spent. Funny that NZUSA said that 98% of submissions were against the VSM bill – if so, then why worry about it if 98% of students are against it?

        4 – Generalising about what Nats or ACT students may do for charity is straying well off the point, especially as these students are in a majority on campuses (last election more voted National than Labour) so why should they be forced to support another party too? Nor should you presume that any student is happy to support overseas charities in order to get a degree.

        • mcflock 11.2.4.1

          Argument 1: people already freeload so more of it won’t hurt? A bit like inflation or cancer, I guess.

          argument 2: If SA’s are leaving NZUSA on the democratic guidance of their membership because it is “exclusively lobbying for the same policies as Labour and other left wing parties.”, doesn’t that mean that SA’s aren’t full of labourites oppressing valiant ACT supporters?
          Either NZUSA is labourite so the SAs are leaving, or the SAs are labourite and therefore want to stay in NZUSA. You can’t have it both ways.

          Argument 3: It’s called democracy – you can’t please 100% of people 100% of the time. And freeloading (which you nicely admitted will increase under VSM) will reduce student levies, which will reduce services, etc in a vicious cycle. Why do tories never know how a market works?

          Argument 4: two parts – if they support a contrary position then they should get active in the SA, not bitch and whine to uncle rodger.

          “Nor should you presume that any student is happy to support overseas charities in order to get a degree”
          A-plus for missing the point which was that of all the injustices in the world (or NZ, or their home town), the one people like you spend huge amounts of effort on is the plight of upper-middle class, generally white kiddies whose SA levies isn’t equal to the GST they pay on their uni fees. Says a lot.

          Is this THE Clint Heine, or has Garrett stolen his identity?

          • Clint Heine 11.2.4.1.1

            Well with argument 1 you have just been a little silly. You can’t argue that all freeloading is bad and then agree that it is already happening.

            2. OPSA is run by somebody pretty pro Labour, but she isn’t running her union along her personal political opinions. She’s leaving NZUSA as they are pro Labour and are ignoring her students. Others are leaving because even Labour supporters are seeing it isn’t value for money… and that is rather damning.

            3. A rather feeble attempt to justify “democracy”. Why do you lefties never know how democracy works? Freeloading occurs in student media but that doesn’t mean it will die under VSM. The papers (OUSAs Critic for example) will have to make a profit or break even for once. Selling a few extra ads won’t kill student media, who seem to think they are some sort of community voice. There are already community papers in Dunedin. Why force students to pay for yet another?

            4. That is an answer you lefties love to use. Tell me how many righties have run for exec without undue harrassment from you lot.

            Naa, I am too old for my ID to be nicked by David G,.

            • mcflock 11.2.4.1.1.1

              Freeloading is like a cream donut – little bits don’t hurt, but too much slows everything down and saps energy reserves.

              Funny – never heard the pro labour argument for leaving OUSA down here. You must have been at the opsa meeting I missed…

              “Selling a few extra ads won’t kill student media, who seem to think they are some sort of community voice. ” Ah, the assumption that all you have to do is try harder. The counter-argument being that VSM merely sends more money towards marketing SAs, or in this case more money towards marketing advertising space for diminishing returns.

              EVERY exec has righties on it, to greater or lesser degrees. In some years they have a majority (including rightist-labour). They face as much harrassment as lefties, not much more. Until they open their mouths and reveal themselves to be idiots and/or fuckwits, in which case approbrium is justly delivered.

              Lefties usually don’t have the social inadequacy required to stand up in a crowded room and say “you’re only voting for her because she’s wearing a tight tshirt”, and then be surprised when the audience turns against you.

              • Unions are only interested in freeloading during VSM campaigns. Otherwise they would have done all they could to restrict the wider broadcasting of their radio stations and control who ate on campus.

                The OPSA meeting was great. NZUSA flew their people down to tell people they HAD to stay in NZUSA, the OPSA people said they wanted to do it at a local level and when the referendum came about, out of 7100 students less than 50 decided to vote…

                Well it can be safely acknowledged that when you have a guarantee of a subsidy to prop you up that removes the incentive to hit targets, then of course you won’t feel the need to sell a few ads to make your little paper run to break even. Subsidies never work and only benefit a few.

                Every right winger who has ever run an openly right wing campaign to exec has faced more than any leftie has. Look at the A Team in Victoria, run by a few righties and lefties… they were torn to shreds and humiliated by the hard left, supported by VUWSA.

  12. factchecker 12

    Students associations are bad mmmkay…… if you support compulsion you’re bad mmmkay

  13. Swampy 13

    Facts are that CSM is primarily of benefit to the left wing of the Labour party. A tiny minority of students make all the decisions about how the money is spent (for example I saw a report from the OUSA, out of 8000 students only a quorum of 30 is needed to pass a resolution at a meeting, about 0.5% which is hugely undemocratic). There may be some services at universities but polytech students get next to no value for the dollars they pay. These services can either be provided by the university or outside organisations at a fraction of the cost due to the wastage on wages, salaries and admin costs through unnecessary duplication.

    A cost benefit analysis of student associations would conclude they deliver a very poor ratio, perhaps the greatest in society today, this is due to the fact that SAs are next to irrelevant off the campus and very limited on it. The primary output of most SAs is large sums of money to support left wing political causes and their main benefit to the Labour party is for political organising in the state education sector and that’s why Labour is opposing this change.

    I have seen this argument discussed countless times over the last 20 years and I think Labour should have got the message by now that just like with trade unions they don’t have a right to steal our money and make us support their political causes that we don’t give a toss about.

    • mcflock 13.1

      for example I saw a report from the OUSA, out of 8000 students only a quorum of 30 is needed to pass a resolution

      OUSA has in the refion of 20,000 members. Was your “report” from 30 years ago? Even if you meant “18,000”, a quorum of “30 members”? Bollocks. ISTR the current quorum for SGMs prior to the constitutional hooplah down here was 1%, and the proposed quorum is 100 people turning up to the room with online voting for the rest.

      “…primarily of benefit to the left wing of the Labour party…”
      Oh, that would be why the current president of OUSA is remarkably noncommittal about the 90-day fire at will? Even if she’s not a young nat (not persuaded of that) she’s hardly a major singer of the Red Flag.

      “A cost benefit analysis of student associations would conclude they deliver a very poor ratio”
      evidence, please, mr 30 person quorum.

      “The primary output of most SAs is large sums of money to support left wing political causes ”
      Again, bollocks. critic.co.nz the current issue has a breakdown of the proposed 2011 budget. Look it up, idiot.

      Swampy, you’re an idiot who has no idea what they’re talking about and asserts blatantly elementary untruths. If this is your level of expertise after “20 years” of looking at the issue, then you’re a grade A idiot.

      • Clint Heine 13.1.1

        The OUSA president is against VSM. The quorum at the OUSA SGMs have always been a mess and are often not met. This is why OUSA have shifted them to an online forum to get more responses.

        When the quorum was 50 they were having to go outside and count people having lunch around the union building.

        OUSA are thinking about leaving NZUSA, OPSA have already. NZUSA doesn’t release its budget online for any student to see. NZUSA is a training ground for Labour Party “stardom”.

        • mcflock 13.1.1.1

          The OUSA president is following a course of action democratically determined by the student body. Yes, they are looking at improving their systems to improve active participation – is this a bad thing? From what you say it sounds like it needs improvement…

          Funny about the quorum – what did YOU do to challenge it (if it’s as you said)? Just whine to uncle rodger, or did you attempt to use democratic means?

          So OUSA is a training camp for future Labour MPs, which is why they want to leave NZUSA because NZUSA is pushing a Labour agenda. Nice. Says it all, really.

      • peteremcc 13.1.2

        It’s OPSA.

        55 people voted in a referendum to remove them from NZUSA.

        But that’s ok, because the quorum is 30 people.

        • mcflock 13.1.2.1

          so only 55 people gave a shit. That’s democracy for ya.

          • Clint Heine 13.1.2.1.1

            And they all agreed, NZUSA is a joke and out of touch.

            • Clint Heine 13.1.2.1.1.1

              And also, Peter did try and challenge a student meeting through democratic means, didn’t you see what VUWSA did to suppress one tiny motion made by an ACT member?

              It’s on You Tube.

              • mcflock

                the majority agreed. Democracy needn’t be unanimous, remember?

                And you leave ACT members’ tiny motions out of it…

                • No, VUWSA set about to change the result which took ages. They called over and over again for quorum when they were losing it – they deliberately miscounted the votes and when they were losing they tried to vacate the meeting to pull it under quorum.

                  When they lost, they then had a secret meeting to declare the entire meeting and motions to be invalid.

                  Did you say democracy? I thought you said above that people should be trying this at local levels… so far that’s a big fail.

                • felix

                  I have to agree with Clint here, the video was utterly damning.

  14. Maynard J 14

    I have an objection to an aspect of student unions. I don’t think they should make political decisions, take stands on political issues or be political, if they are universal.

    There is no way they can make a decision and claim that it has legitimacy based upon their membership. People are being represented by a view they do not agree with.

    I can’t really think of an equivalent, apart from to say imagine if we were all forced to join the National Party if they won the election, or Labour if they won.

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      I have an objection to an aspect of student unions. I don’t think they should make political decisions, take stands on political issues or be political, if they are universal.

      I’m sure NACT would like to make Student Associations toothless lapdogs to make their gutting of education easier, fat chance.

      • Maynard J 14.1.1

        There are other ways for student political advocacy that don’t require people to be represented by views they find abhorrent.

        I’m very much a leftie, but don’t believe a student org should advocate my views on behalf of those who are opposed to them. Just like I wouldn’t have wanted a student union being, say, anti-Choice on my behalf.

        You also presume that student unions will always be ‘left’. What if they were all taken over by NACT supporters and cheered on their policies in entirety? Still happy?

        • Colonial Viper 14.1.1.1

          Saying you’re a leftie hardly makes it so.

          Most serious student lefties I know would try and get involved with OUSA (for example) to make its views more representative and its processes more democratic and inclusive.

          But *shrug* what do I know.

          Just like I wouldn’t have wanted a student union being, say, anti-Choice on my behalf.

          Is this a random, imagined, hypothetical fear of yours or did this actually happen?

          • Maynard J 14.1.1.1.1

            Don’t be disingenuous. No matter how ‘involved, democtatic and inclusive’ the unions are, they still purport to represent views for peope who hold views in direct opposition to the unions.

            Yes, that was a random fear I made up, because I can’t recall all that many instances of unions supporting right policies. But a classic example was all unions apart from OUSA supported the repeal of S59, but I’d guess around half of the students represented did not support the repeal. Yet they were being spoken for.

            Some lefties don’t care about this, because unions are generally left-leaning. I don’t believe it’s ok simply because my views get preference – we all have rights and to be forced to support an organisation that represents you falsely doesn’t fit well with those rights.

            So as a leftie your suggestion is that I should advocate policies representative of the right, to make student unions more inclusive. Doesn’t quite work…

            • Colonial Viper 14.1.1.1.1.1

              but I’d guess around half of the students represented did not support the repeal. Yet they were being spoken for.

              Oh I see you don’t actually know whether or not a majority of students did or did not support the repeal. Just a guess eh? Do any kind of scientific survey around your guess?

              So as a leftie your suggestion is that I should advocate policies representative of the right, to make student unions more inclusive. Doesn’t quite work…

              Oh I think you like Right wing policies to weaken our civil institutions just fine, actually.

              • felix

                CV for the purpose of the point Maynard is making it doesn’t matter a bean whether he knows if a majority supported it or not – the point is that the unions didn’t know either.

              • Maynard J

                Thank you felix.

                CV – every political stand that a student union makes will not be supported by all of those for whom the union is representing. Try to name a single issue that would be supported by every single student at a typical institution…

                As in my reply to mcflock below – keep the unions/assocations and all the good that they do. Keep them universal. Just take out the politics, or organise it somehow so people aren’t having a body which they must join making political statements to which they disagree with.

                There still needs to be political advocacy and campaigning in support of students’ interests, but much of what they comment on goes far beyond things that directly affect students.

                In NZ parliamentary elections, you can vote for any party, and they will hopefully best represent your views and advocate on your behalf for policies you support, whether in power or not. You can be a member of that party and support it, or not, as you see fit.

                In student politics, there is no such freedom. You are a member of that union or association, and they will make statements and advocate as per their mandate, and in theory are representing you but they cannot ever do so for all students – you could never make a political statement all students agree with. Lowering fees – some people think they’re too low. Interest free loans – some are against the handout. Being nice to puppies and kittens – don’t tell me who to be nice to…

                It’s intersting that in your criticism of my views you believe I’m for the right and that what I’m talking about is a right wing policy. That sort of illustrates my point – student politics are generally left, and students on the right are being done over because of that. I don’t mind that happening, but not in this way. If the shoe were on the other foot…

        • mcflock 14.1.1.2

          “Still happy?”

          Actually, yes – and that’s from experience. Pissed at the exec and a few student politicians, but not the system. It’s called democracy – I don’t agree with many of John Key’s policies, but that doesn’t mean I want to change the system of government.

          If you don’t like something, get active.

          • Maynard J 14.1.1.2.1

            But you’re not forced to join the National Party. You can oppose them by supporting another party. I don’t like National but I’m not going to join it and try and make the party a left-leaning one.

            It’s not democracy when a student union of which you are a member, and which represents you directly, does so with views you don’t agree with.

            • Colonial Viper 14.1.1.2.1.1

              yeah don’t forget that Student Associations may at times be political, but they are not political parties.

              They do a lot for campus life and campus services far above and beyond what any political party does.

              It’s not democracy when a student union of which you are a member, and which represents you directly, does so with views you don’t agree with.

              Wrong, that’s exactly democracy as we know it in NZ – you vote in a group of representatives and you empower them to act on your behalf.

              And since when are your democratic representatives supposed to spout just your own personal views?

              They do or say something you do not like, you have every ability to challenge them on it. Get in there and do so, don’t rip the heart out of the civil institutions.

              • Former Rep

                CV – As a right-wing person disgusted at my SA, I did get involved and I was elected. I had no complaints from the general student population and I was elected on a mandate of centre-right politics. The only people ever bitching at me were the left-wing Exec Members who HATED the fact that a right-winger was elected onto “their” SA. In fact, 4 other centre-right people were voted on in my year and there was an even 5-5 split between left and right. Young Labour almost had a meltdown! It wasn’t utopia but I would argue it was the most transparent and accountable year that VUWSA has had for a long time. I worked extremely hard for my $40 a week and at every opportunity I sought sponsorship instead of spending students’ money. Sponsorship can and should be organised and in return students wouldn’t need to pay $120 a year to the SA.

                Also, I object to taking money off of students and giving it (via grants) to things such as the Geology Department Keg Party or the Ski Club – both are actual things that VUWSA gives money to. If people want to do those things they should bloody pay for themselves! I couldn’t even afford to home and see my family when I was at uni and I worked part-time my whole uni life.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Good on you for getting stuck in there and showing what can be done by getting involved and by campaigning democratically. You looked after the money, and I trust VUWSA still managed to look after the people.

                  So why cannot there be more of the same without dismantling Student Assocs?

                  • Former Rep

                    Because I think we just had a lucky year. All the people (left and right) on the exec were an honest bunch. We did our best for students even though we may have disagreed with each other – with full-on arguments at times. We didn’t steal from the kitty and we tried to actually think about what students themselves wanted.

                    However, in general, my complaints are:
                    – Lack of transparency and accountability
                    – Low quality of candidates running for election
                    – Non-compliance with their own constitutions
                    – Partisan politics put ahead of student’s views
                    – Lack of consultation on key issues
                    – Wasted time, money and resources on lobbying Govt for policies that will never be implemented regardless of who gets in

                    VUWSA embodies all these complaints. I use VUWSA as the example because I don’t have the knowledge to comment on other SAs.

                    VUWSA has proven itself to be a basketcase. They don’t actually represent students at all. Just look at the ANZAC day issue. VUWSA refused to lay a wreath because of the personal political feelings of the President and some of the Executive and they got absolutely panned by the student body. But students in general are apathetic and lazy and as usual they just bitched and complained for a week and then found something better to do. SAs continue to exist on the basis of student apathy and, IMHO, that’s not good enough.

              • Maynard J

                I’m all for keeping the associations, I’m all for keeping them universal. I just believe they should be apolitical.

                “Wrong, that’s exactly democracy as we know it in NZ – you vote in a group of representatives and you empower them to act on your behalf.”

                Yes, but my point still stands that you are not forced to join the party of that political party and have them advocate on your behalf when you disagree with what they advocate.

                • mcflock

                  Students’ associations are not political parties. They are associations of a specific sector of society joined together for the common good with benefits that do not extend beyond that aspect of their members’ lives, but which cannot be restricted only to members.

                  The are not political parties. They lobby on political issues as directed by their membership. They provide services as directed by their membership. They improve the position of students at the educational institution they are centred on as directed by their membership. They improve the social life and community culture of the educational institution they are centred on, as directed by their membership.

                  If you have a problem with that, you have a problem with the concept of democracy.

                  • Maynard J

                    Stop calling it democracy as if that makes your arguments stronger.

                    In your mind democracy would be being forced to join the National party because they’re in power. The presence of a one-person one-vote with universal suffrage isn’t some magical system that Cannot Be Wrong.

                    The rest of your comments on them I have no issue with, support wholeheartedly, and wish to remain universal. However:

                    “They lobby on political issues as directed by their membership.”

                    Pretty sure I’ve just explained seven times that that is not the case, and can never be.

                    They also piss off their members en masse (or would bar apathy en masse) by advocating for things that have nothing to do with students or education, and frankly for which they have no mandate.

                    “Students’ associations are not political parties.”

                    Not for lack of trying.

                    • mcflock

                      In an argument allegedly about freedom attitudes to democracy are relevant.
                      The National party thing is a product of your fevered imagination, not mine.

                      “The presence of a one-person one-vote with universal suffrage isn’t some magical system that Cannot Be Wrong.”

                      So you DO have an issue with democracy – what is your suggested replacement?

                      “They lobby on political issues as directed by their membership.”

                      Pretty sure I’ve just explained seven times that that is not the case, and can never be.

                      The gist of your arguments seem to be that some members will disagree with the majority on some issues, so therefore students’ associations are oppressing those minority members. They are oppressed no more than John Key is oppressing me at the moment, not because I’m forced to be a national party member but because I’m affected as a citizen of New Zealand. Your problem really is with democracy. At least in a students’ association each policy can be altered by well advertised meetings to which all members are entitled to come and vote. You can’t say that about bullying solo parents.

                    • Maynard J

                      “So you DO have an issue with democracy – what is your suggested replacement?”

                      You just don’t get it. Iraq had those same elements (one-person one-vote with universal suffrage) but you also got shot if you ticked the wrong box. Stop ignoring everything else around these models and pretending these are some magical and perfect democracies because they take a few elements of one. I have no problems with the concept of democracy, I’m talking about its implementation. And as I have said many times and counting, the bit where a union advocates for something without seeking, nor gaining a mandate, is an element of ‘democracy’ that ain’t democratic.

                      “The gist of your arguments seem to be that some members will disagree with the majority on some issues, so therefore students’ associations are oppressing those minority members.”

                      No. There’s no way to know if it’s a majority or minority due to participation levels, but what I mean is that for every political decision they make it is guaranteed that people who are paid members are having their interests actively opposed by a body purportedly representing them. That is my problem with this implementation of democracy – it is the exact opposite of what representative democracy is meant to be.

                      The only solution to this issue is that these people should ‘get involved’. They shouln’t be forced to get involved, but that is the only way of attempting to prrevent a body from taking actions that are against their view. and guesss what – if they succeed, then another lot of people have a body representing them but advocating against their interests. It’s a zero-sum game.

                      “They are oppressed no more than John Key is oppressing me at the moment, not because I’m forced to be a national party member but because I’m affected as a citizen of New Zealand.”

                      No, because you voted for and are represented by the opposition. With a student union, the equivalent situation would be that you are forced to pay National party dues and be a member. I realise you’re struggling to make the equivalence, but it’s an apples and oranges comparison, which is good to bear in mind.

                      “Your problem really is with democracy.”

                      No, it’s with how they have implemented it, the lack of an opposition structure, and the enforced buy-in. I see it as a flawed model. It’s more reminicent of a one-party system.

                      My real problem with democracy in general is the flawed representative democracy model, upon which student associations are based (as are all western democracies) – most people on this site know of better alternatives 🙂

                      Edit: in saying all this, I am unfortunately unable to propose a better solution, apart from limiting the scope of the associations’ political wings to education issues, or those which they have directly campaigned on, or separating the political parts of the associations from the social and other parts – to maintain universal membership for the services providing, while avoiding the political issues.

                    • mcflock

                      Oh, nice.

                      You actually admit you have a problem with democracy.

                      Where does your idea for political disengagement of SAs draw the line? University representation? Dealing with issues until the university just says “it’s a central funding issue” to get rid of them?

                      Government policy really DOES trickle down – like this “VSM” bullshit, imposed from on high by Mr 3% (depending on his real name).

                      There is no point bailing out the ship if you don’t plug the leak.

                    • Maynard J

                      Yes, I believe in socialist participatory democracy over and above the disengaging and apathy-inducing liberal representative model. I believe that would be relatively common among those on the left.

                      I’m not sure where the line would be drawn – that is the problem of the model – either you knowingly cross it by taking a stand on any issue, or you make no political statements. That is the nature of this zero-sum situation.

            • Clint Heine 14.1.1.2.1.2

              Oh that’s a nice example, I will nick that 🙂

  15. Most serious lefties were quite happy to have their heads in the sand at OUSA in regards to VSM. The union has been losing money on its student media for ages, their orientations have gradually got worse and they don\’t seem to be catching up with the many very good alternatives (entertainment wise) that has been offered in other non Union establishments.

    I liked my time at Otago, and you presume pro VSM people are against unions. Not so.

    The \”serious lefties\” I knew in OUSA were quite happy to encourage apathy as it meant that they could continue to bring in their $2 million p/a without too mucy scrutiny of how it was spent. If VSM brings in a culture of transparency and efficiency then it will be a more valuable training tool for anybody seeking a future in business, politics or whatever.

    Captcha – crazy… maybe I am?

    • mcflock 15.1

      The union has been losing money on its student media for ages, their orientations have gradually got worse and they don\’t seem to be catching up with the many very good alternatives (entertainment wise) that has been offered in other non Union establishments.

      SO OUSA subsidises student media to keep it going (GONE under VSM).
      Orientations gotten worse? Maybe you’re just getting older. They’re still well attended by students.

      Let’s see – the Gardies was losing money so got sold and shut down, The Cook is going okay and building up live acts since its run-in with the LLA, the rest are just DJs & smoke machines. Oh, and Sammies and the Empire on occasion, but they’re not generic student joints.

      Refuel (the uni bar, with support from OUSA/works with OUSA Events): live acts multiple times a week.

      Oh, and yes you are crazy. Party on, Clint.

      • Clint Heine 15.1.1

        Nope, student media would not disappear. They will be required to break even. Simple for a newspaper right? If they can’t peform that basic task then they don’t deserve to be there. Students would be outraged if they knew Critic and Radio 1 were losing well ober $60k p/a.

        Orientations on campus are well attended, so why would they disappear? Why would students stop listening to music and bands because their union isn’t compulsory?

        Nothing wrong with all the bars in Dunedin, maybe you’re being a snob if you think DJs and smoke machines are not good enough for students. O week is celebrated by many pubs and bars and promotions are everywhere.

        • mcflock 15.1.1.1

          Students already know about Critic – it’s called a subsidy to make a 30 page weekly magazine aimed at only 20,000 people a viable concern.

          Shit you’re religious: orientations “have gradually got worse”, then all of a sudden the fact you spouted complete bullshit is a victory as orientation won’t be cut under VSM.

          Newsflash – selling alcohol to otago students is not difficult. Advocacy, clubs&socs and a variety of other services run by ousa are not self funding, and the benefits cannot be reasonably restricted to members.

          • Clint Heine 15.1.1.1.1

            Look at the OUSA budget. How much of it went to Advocacy? Clubs and Societies shouldn’t be funded – how do you think clubs in the real world survive? The budget is very clear – more goes towards pet projects and campaigns that shouldn’t be funded by all students.

            Critic is read by anybody, both online (freeloading) and by anybody in Dunedin who can pick up a widely available copy. (freeloading). Students have no idea that Critic and Radio1 are losing money despite them supposedly chasing advertising revenue. Is OUSA a charity?

  16. mcflock 16

    After 130-odd comments, there’s nothing new here. There hasn’t been for ten years.

    Maybe some students felt they were genuinely oppressed, maybe not. I can’t help thinking that the majority of vitriol tories got in SAs was because of their personalities, not their politics – they just didn’t have any idea of limits of acceptable behaviour. Example: like plying mentally ill people with alcohol and using the pictures in their election campaigns as a joke. There are many other examples. All in all, the best case for VSM is that a huge amount of public good will be endangered by “correcting” a pathetically small “injustice”.

    My last word on this thread is this: if ACT really cared about freedom, they wouldn’t have voted to give Brownlee dictatorial power. I wonder about their true motivation: is it some machiavellian plan to silence opposition, or is it the rabid flailing about of religious fervour? Probably the latter.

    • Your “last word” exposes exactly why VSM is so important.

      You say it is a plot to crush the “opposition” but yet a student union shouldn’t be there primarily to oppose a “tory” Government. More students voted National at the last election – so why should they fund any form of “opposition” to their own democratic vote?

      Didn’t all parties vote for that silly Brownlee power law? You didn’t read the transcripts of what was said in Parliament, ACT and the Greens were very concerned about it, but they all voted for it as long as it achieved the purpose of fixing Chch. But none of that is relevant.

      VSM was bought about to bring our student unions in line with trade unions around the world. Freedom of assocation is important and no matter what the conspiracy theory, it isn’t a grand push to silence anybody. If the left were so dependent on power entirely on forcing all students political, non political, left, right etc into funding their movement then maybe it wasn’t so strong after all.

      Time will tell.

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