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?