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In praise of resilient communities

Written By: - Date published: 9:24 am, February 25th, 2011 - 121 comments
Categories: aid, disaster - Tags: , ,

We hear a lot of, frankly, trite comments in times of disaster about how the people affected are ‘tough’ and a special breed. People are people. But communities can be more resilient in the face of disaster if they have existing civil society organisations to rally around and help coordinate their actions. Canterbury Students’ Association is a perfect example.

As after the first earthquake, the Students’ Association has taken it upon itself to form a volunteer army of thousands to tackle the liquefaction that has devastated suburbs. All the reports are that they’re doing great and selfless work and helping nieghbourhoods back on to their feet.

(if you want to join, the info is on the Facebook page)

Without the Students’ Association, how would this kind of manpower be organised? It would be more ad hoc, smaller-scale, and less effective. Many uni students who will gladly rally behind a cause like the Student Volunteer Army might stay at home without an organisation to lead and coordinate them.

This is where the dig at Roger Douglas’s Voluntary Student Association Bill comes in. That Bill is designed to kill off the student associations because the extreme Right sees them as a breeding ground for its political opposition. Think what might have been lost if he had got his bill through a year ago.

Indeed, it is a hallmark of all extreme ideologies to try to kill off civil society organisations like student associations, unions, and private clubs. Civil society organisations make communities resilient, whereas atomised individuals are easy to control. Look at Libya and other countries in the Middle East – the dictatorships there have survived so long because they have destroyed all organisations they don’t control. Until recently, anyone trying to oppose the regime had to do so more or less as an individual – a doomed prospect. As in Christchurch, technology has been vital, allowing opposition to the regimes to organise quickly and in large numbers via Facebook and Twitter.

So, there is a lesson to be learned from the earthquake and from the Middle East as we enter an age in which peak oil and climate change will create challenges for communities again and again. Those communities that do well are not those were everyone is a stand-alone individual, viewed as a worker and a consumer and nothing more. Communities withstand and react to shocks better when the people in them are bonded by networks of civil society organisations, and a culture, born of those organisations, of looking out for each other. In our uncertain future, resilient communities will get us through.

121 comments on “In praise of resilient communities”

  1. lprent 1

    I’ve been impressed at their coherent degree of organisation. Anyone who thinks that you can put something together without an existing organisation obviously has never tried to look seriously at disaster operations.

    Shovels and wheelbarrows at the front-face don’t just appear without a lot of organised back-room work. Similarly other emergency groups like the police, fire, civil defense, or army don’t bother to work with uncoordinated individuals and will actively discourage them. There is too much history in disaster relief operations showing how dangerous uncoordinated responses are.

    Social organisations are there for more than simply economic activities. This disaster is showing some of the other reasons that they exist.

    I’ve also been impressed at how they have been using the social media to coordinate the process.

  2. Fisiani 2

    Oh the delicious comical irony of this post. Do you notice that it is the Student VOLUNTEER Army. That’s right. Every one a volunteer. No one is compelled to pick up a shovel.
    They join the volunteer army if they want to. They will also join student associations if they want to. Its called freedom. Increased choice. All over the world people are asking for freedom. NZ students are finally being given freedom of choice.

    • RedLogix 2.1

      OK fisi… so what is your opinion of those of feel no obligation to ‘volunteer’ when most of those around them are? Even when they are perfectly capable of doing so?

      • tsmithfield 2.1.1

        Actually, I would rather not have people involved who were only there because they were compelled to be there. The moaning, slackness of effort, and general unwillingness to be involved would undermine the effort.

    • lprent 2.2

      Volunteers are only effective when they have a organisation to put the project together. The irony of your response is that you don’t appear to understand the effectiveness multiplier that organisations provide to volunteers.

      The organisation has to be pre-existing for it to be effective. That means it has to have a purpose and function to maintain themselves. It is quite clear that the purpose of the Zombies bill is to ensure that existing student bodies will be unable to function in the future, which simply means that the organisation that is making these volunteers effective will disappear.

      Quite simply your and the Zombies ideas if extended would also require that there is no standing army using the same logic. After all they are maintained as an organisation that could be done on a voluntary basis. Of course that means that the army would be totally useless if there is an emergency or a war because their organisation would be ad hoc and they’d get cut to pieces.

      I guess that you find it difficult to work with others? Otherwise you’d know this from your own voluntary activities, that organisations work best if they are in place before they are needed. They massively enhance the volunteers effectiveness. Killing them for reasons of ideological stupidity is quite counter productive.

      • Dilbert 2.2.1

        “It is quite clear that the purpose of the Zombies bill is to ensure that existing student bodies will be unable to function in the future”

        Lprent it does no such thing. The purpose of the bill is quite simply to ensure that students have to choose to join a student association vs being forced to do so. I don’t understand why so many are anti this compulsory membership when they wouldn’t stand for it in any other part of their lives?

        • lprent 2.2.1.1

          Ummm, so I shouldn’t have to carry a car license when driving? That is also a compulsory membership. I shouldn’t have to have an IRD number? That is a compulsory membership to help pay for our society.

          Your statement is absurd. There are compulsory memberships everywhere that are put in for specific purposes. They are all compulsory because they ensure that preconditions are met and freeloaders are discouraged.

          It is quite clear that there is need for student representatives in universities and that the students need facilities outside of those required for straight education. Even the Zombies bill acknowledges that. All that bill does is to ensure that freeloaders will destroy those services and the organisation that provides them.

          • Libertyscott 2.2.1.1.1

            Your statement is absurd.

            A drivers’ licence is a qualification that states you are fit to operate a piece of machinery. Failure to have that can risk injury or death to others. It isn’t membership of anything. Indeed, you can get a drivers’ licence from Australia or a number of other countries and it is valid in New Zealand for a set period.

            An IRD number is an ID for those liable for paying income tax. It isn’t a membership of anything.

            One is a qualification, one is an ID issued to you for the purpose of meeting a legal obligation. Neither has any society behind it that you can go to meetings of, become elected to, or which even remotely claims to represent you at a political level. The comparison is quite meaningless.

            The case for compulsory student union membership could be applied to political party membership as well, indeed to all industry representative bodies or private ones. For example, a case could be made for all motorists to belong to the AA, which supplies many services (e.g signage, rescue and recovery and representation) invaluable to motorists. You could say all farmers should belong to Federated Farmers, and so on.

            Civil society includes freedom of association. The only motivation behind retaining compulsory membership is the fear of those who run them that they can’t convince students of their merits. Trade Unions argued the same, that they gave enormous benefits to workers and so workers had to be forced to belong. The only people opposing it were those with an obvious vested interest in not having to convince others of the value of what they did.

            • Dilbert 2.2.1.1.1.1

              I agree completely with you Liberty

              • Colonial Viper

                You would.

                • ZeeBop

                  The right see student fees as a service, the left as a kind of council rates. Since the right spend most of their time lying about stuff, distracting, distorting, and its obvious to anyone with any knowledge of universities that students unions provide a social safety net, a political forum as well as a lot of subsidized services. So the right is lying again, and why so it can undermine opposition, how predictable. How weak.

            • Akldnut 2.2.1.1.1.2

              Libertyscott your statements are absurd

              Failure to have that can risk injury or death to others – the risk is present with or without the licence.

              An IRD number is an ID for those liable for paying income tax. – when my daughter was a newborn baby she was sent an IRD number and put into our tax system. No way was she liable to pay tax, thats 14 years now as a compulsory member – no one cent of tax gathered off her.

              Compulsory membership is everywhere.
              If a law is passed that a certain criteria be met by individuals to retain jobs that already have – then membership is compulsory ie: Nurses degrees.
              Therefore this forced qualitication is a forced membership to an institution of higher learning.

              • Bazar

                Libertyscott’s statements are so accurate its a great post, probably the best i’ve read on this site.

                But this post…

                You imply there is no meaningful differance between someone with a drivers licence, and someone without any licence. I don’t need to spell out the obvious other then to state that is a stupid statement.

                As for your paragraph about the ID system. You’ve made no point. You’ve just stated that your child has an ID and its not put to use. I think you might of been suggesting its a forced membership, but its not a membership for the reason liberity already pointed out.

                A Nurses’s degree isn’t a membership, its a qualification. Which makes that example irrelevant.

                I’m not sure what you were trying to say, but to call someone elses post absurd when this is what you reply with…

                • Akldnut

                  Failure to have that can risk injury or death to others– the risk is present with or without the licence.
                  There I’ve repeated what he wrote and what you talking to.

                  Obviously not one and the same because I sure as hell didn’t say what you wrote, didn’t even imply it. I commented on what was said pointing out that it didn’t make sense. Sometimes black is black and white is white!

                  Once again: An IRD number is an ID for those liable for paying income tax

                  She’s had this number for 14 years and no tax has been paid, not because as you say she dosn’t chose to use it but because she dosn’t need to and was never going to be paying tax before before getting a job. Pretty straight forward.

                  Being forced into university is the forced membership I’m talking about so re-read my last sentence dickhead and stop trying to be a smart-arse cause you sure got the last part of it covered.

                  • Bazar

                    “I commented on what was said pointing out that it didn’t make sense”
                    Its pretty clear, hes saying those who coudln’t get a drivers licence are a danger to the roads. And you took the time to say its dangerious anyway.

                    Either you stated the obvious and ilrevelent, or you were implying something. I thought you were trying to make a point. Guess i was mistaken and you were just stating the obvious.

                    An IRD number is an ID for those IN THE TAX SYSTEM.
                    FROM THE IRD WEBSITE
                    “An IRD number is a unique identification number from Inland Revenue”

                    There is NOTHING mentioned about the IRD being for those who have a taxable income. Its simply an numbered ID from the IRD.

                    I don’t care to argue over universities being consdered a membership in that contex as thats mostly semantics at the end of the day.

                    • Akldnut

                      Libertyscott says: An IRD number is an ID for those liable for paying income tax.
                      You quote the IRD: An IRD number is an ID for those IN THE TAX SYSTEM.
                      FROM THE IRD WEBSITE
                      “An IRD number is a unique identification number from Inland Revenue”

                      Even you prove my point & show how wrong he was – Case Rested.!!!

            • chris73 2.2.1.1.1.3

              A convincing, well-written arguement

              • Colonial Viper

                Civil society includes freedom of association. (1) The only motivation behind retaining compulsory membership is the fear of those who run them that they can’t convince students of their merits (2)…The only people opposing it were those with an obvious vested interest in not having to convince others of the value of what they did. (3)

                (1) Yes it does. You can choose not to go to a university with compulsory student association membership, for instance. your rights to freedom of association will not have been abrogated.

                (2) Yes you won’t be able to convince students of their merit without further opportunities for engaging and educating students. Are you suggesting that Associations have more opportunities to do that as part of student inductions into uni? I would be all for that.

                (3) People take civic institutions for granted. But actually they need to be built up over time. This generation of students my pay for facilities and capabilities that will only come online when they have left uni. But the participation of each generation benefits the next: hence the value of ongoing student associations.

                But back to the point, this is a move by the Right to crush political activism on campus, and to remove another pillar of civil society from NZ.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Got an even better idea.

                  Student associations should be permitted to start educating incoming students about the benefits of being a member, so that students can make an informed choice about whether or not it is worth their while.

                  This education should start while students are in High School.

                  As part of the education programme, Student Associations could teach high school students about the role and importance of unions in general, and the role and importance of collective action, in general.

                  I think with a few little tweaks, VSM will work brilliantly.

      • AndyB 2.2.2

        “It is quite clear that the purpose of the Zombies bill is to ensure that existing student bodies will be unable to function in the future”

        Really? I’m pretty sure it was to make student associations voluntary. There is nothing to stop people joining, they just now wont be forced to.

        “if extended would also require that there is no standing army using the same logic”

        What? has the army suddenly become compulsory? No one is automatically signed up to the army, like they are in the student unions.

        • zugzug 2.2.2.1

          look across the tasman at their failed attempt at VSUs

          “The effect on student recreational, social, and cultural activities was immediate and devastating, with $167 million stripped from Australian student unions and over a thousand jobs lost. Impacts ranged from slashed funding for interuniversity sports clubs and campus media to the shutting down of child-care services, locker facilities, educational assistance offices, emergency loan programs, food banks, resource centres, and dozens of other services on each campus formerly supported by student fees.”

          yeah, that sounds great to me…

        • Shane Gallagher 2.2.2.2

          “There is nothing to stop people joining,”

          Yes there is – it is called MONEY. Poor students fresh out of school with no life experience will not understand the value of the Student Associations. They also want to minimise their loans, so they will make the silly decision not join the union. Just the same as people “choose” not to have pension schemes.

          How can you argue against the student associations when you see the work that they are doing to help in Canterbury. You people are pretty vile.

          • AndyB 2.2.2.2.1

            I’m vile? Nice one Shane, your a real trooper.

            I was a student, i never once used any of the student associations facilities. Not that I’m using that argument as a benchmark as it’s a silly argument. But make the joining fee reasonable, outline the benefits to new students, if they want to join they can, if not, they save money on something they MAY never use.

            “How can you argue against the student associations when you see the work that they are doing to help in Canterbury”

            Quite easily really. As Graeme has pointed out below, after the first quake there was a massive cleanup effort organised by “a random guy who started a facebook group”.

            With social media, you don’t need a student association to organise these things, they just happen. You cannot argue that the group of students would not have been organised without the student associations. That’s just silly.

            The Red Cross, Sallies, et al, are not mandatory, and yet the are organising massive efforts to help out their fellow Cantabrians. 1,000’s of people, most of whom are not a member of any association are helping out in any way they can.

            But sure, carry on saying that none of this would have happened without the student unions.

            • Luke 2.2.2.2.1.1

              Hmm, interesting because as a student you would have attended the university I assume. Sat exams, perhaps the odd lecture. Behind this in the back rooms are meetings that include representatives from the Students Association so that the University administrators can get feedback from both staff and students. But you didn’t have a choice to not use that so I guess that’s alright. Cause if it wasn’t there it wouldn’t have mattered and all.

              • AndyB

                Lectures, exams, that’s what my fees pay for. Without students associations, there would still be student representatives. Hell, there are student representatives in secondary school. Students can still raise feedback. I don’t need someone placing feedback on my behalf, i am perfectly capable.

                • Colonial Viper

                  We’re not talking about “providing feedback” on how good course materials for a paper were, we are talking about political representation for students at every level.

                  Two quite different things.

                • jimmy

                  The one and only purpose of the VSM was to take lobbying power away from students. Did you go and defend against fee rises Andy?

                  It is well known that political lobbying pays many times over, have a look at what the Koch brothers are up to in Wisconsin (basically giving themselves a monopoly on energy supply).

                  I read a book that had a quote from a U.S. senator that went along the lines of ‘you cant swing a cat by the tail around here without hitting a pharmaceutical lobbyist’.

                  Students who dissagree with compulsorary membership just dont realise the value they are getting, sure you might have never tuned into the campus radio station or needed someone to talk to when your down on your luck but there is a whole lot more to student associations than that.

                  • Dilbert

                    “Students who dissagree with compulsorary membership just dont realise the value they are getting, sure you might have never tuned into the campus radio station or needed someone to talk to when your down on your luck but there is a whole lot more to student associations than that.”

                    Then all these associations need to do is educate the student body exactly what benefits they create and if the student body agrees they will continue to pay for their membership. If they don’t feel that the association provides worth then they won’t but at least the student body will have the choice of belonging or not rather than having that decision made for them.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Then all these associations need to do is educate the student body exactly what benefits they create and if the student body agrees they will continue to pay for their membership

                      What, like educating grown ups about the value of resilient communities and a more equal society, except with people who still have their teenage don’t give a shit wheres the beer brains going on?

                      Good luck to your nice theory

                    • jimmy

                      Opposition to fee rises are a universal interest of students (argue your way out of that one!). What do you propose we do about free-riding dilbert?

                    • Akldnut

                      The point in question is the real reason behind the removal of compulsory membership.
                      This is no different to the course of action taken by Nat govts against unions.
                      Making them voluntary will depower them meaning less support for the the masses. The less powerful the union the more shit can be gotten away with.

                      We could talk on it till the cows come home but it won’t change the fact that the right are just reclaiming their god given positions in life, Absolute control – whilst creating mindless pawns do do their bidding al la Andy, Dilbert, Libertyscott……etc.

          • Clint 2.2.2.2.2

            No Shane, what’s vile is using the earthquake as yet another attack against the government. That and calling an elder statesman a zombie, but that sums up the sorts of people who write on this blog.

            • Colonial Viper 2.2.2.2.2.1

              “Elder statesman”?

              Old yes. The rest is no more than a bad joke, just like the party he founded.

            • Armchair Critic 2.2.2.2.2.2

              The pretext of the post is tasteless, primarily due to the timing. I’m hoping that this is the last time I agree with you.
              VSM is, on balance, a bad idea.
              The Douglasaurus is not an elder statesman. When he does something worthy of respect, he will deserve respect. Meanwhile, he’s just a zombie dinosaur.

              • Macro

                “The Douglasaurus is not an elder statesman. When he does something worthy of respect, he will deserve respect”
                Hear! hear! That man has done more than any other in this country to bring this country to it’s economic knees. A walking disaster. And still he wants to hurt us more. A stupid idiot wrapped up in his ideology to keep himself warm.

          • Dilbert 2.2.2.2.3

            “Poor students fresh out of school with no life experience will not understand the value of the Student Associations”

            So students who do have life experience and do understand the value of Student associations need to be forced to belong to an organisation that regardless whether theyt want to or not? It seems that a far better option would be is for the Student Associations to a) make sure that they are offering appropriate services and then b) educate the poor students lacking in life experiences all the benefits they offer to attract their membership.

            • Colonial Viper 2.2.2.2.3.1

              Shame that a culture of short termism is destroying our civic institutions. Pay $50 to join a Students Assoc which will then help keep your fees and student loans down by thousands of dollars or get a couple of slabs of beer for Saturday night.

              Tough call.

              • Bazar

                Keeping the funds down, by stashing it in their pockets?

                “A police investigation has begun after more than $750,000 was drained from Whitireia Polytechnic students’ association funds over a year. ”

                http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/4024093/Police-inquiry-into-missing-student-funds

                Tough call indeed.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Hey hear of that customer who nicked a couple of million from Westpac and did a runner to China? What you gonna close down the banks now?

                  Embezzlement and theft are crimes, perps will get their just desserts.

                  • Bazar

                    Your analogy is terrible, and the point it makes, that justice will prevail, offtopic.
                    That example i gave shows a union that was so corrupt and incompetent that it couldn’t even cover its tracks.

                    Will justice prevail? Probably in some sence, but the money is long gone.

                    The point i’m making is that there is less accountability to forced membership unions. After all, at the end of the year their funding is assured regardless of performance.

                    Or do you believe that all student unions are bastions of idealism, brimming with desire to prove themselves and provide great value for money? When it makes no differance at all to them and their financing.

                    At least with the actual university, their reputation is everything. They woudln’t dare screw around with the students, or they risk their perception and attendance failing, which is where they make their money.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      At least with the actual university, their reputation is everything. They woudln’t dare screw around with the students, or they risk their perception and attendance failing, which is where they make their money.

                      Ah, not really. Your statement here is quite out of date.

                      Not sure if you know how the funding system works these days, but universities do not care about their masses of undergrad students – whose teaching the acaedmics tend to regard as a distraction from their real job: publishing journal papers.

                      Uni departments tend to care far more about their research output and their postgrad student numbers.

      • Alwyn 2.2.3

        No standing army?
        Your argument would appear to be calling for a compulsory standing army, and the only way to actually achieve that is to bring back compulsory military traing, abolished in the 1960s I think.
        The current army is a Voluntary organisation. There is certainly no compulsion to sign up. Incidentally most of the New Zealand serviceman who are sent overseas are part-time, volunteer members of the Territorial forces, not even the Regular army.

        • lprent 2.2.3.1

          The alternative to a standing army is quite apparent if you look at any history of feudalism, or for that matter in currently failed states. It consists of personal fiefdoms that are rather notoriously ineffective and raised as a standing force only when immediately needed. Our standing army is ‘compulsory’ in that we maintain it when it is not required. Basically you’re just paying daft word-games.

          The core of the army is that of a standing professional force made up of permanent regulars providing the pre-existing structure, and the volunteers of the TF. Anyone in the TF (like I was for a number of years) is quite well aware of how much we relied on the RF to provide the organisation for our activities.

          BTW: CMT was abolished in the early 70’s. There was considerable opposition to it from within the military prior to that because it was not a particularly effective way to train troops. But even then it had the same regular force structure to provide the organisational backbone to army.

      • big bruv 2.2.4

        Ha ha..deal with it Iprent, VSM is going to happen.

        I must admit I find it humorous that you guys bend over backward coming up with the most ridiculous reasons why students should be compelled to join a union and all the while avoiding the real reason you want the status quo to remain.

        Time to be honest boys and girls….tell us the real reason you are pissed off at the coming VSM.

  3. ianmac 3

    Interviews with the Student helpers shows that not only is their help appreciated but also that the students benefit from being valued. A two way benefit.
    Non compulsory unionism causes a total loss of effectiveness. Freedom of choice sounds good but luckily that most of us are hefted into compulsory joining of most of society’s unions. Eg: Law and Order. Non-Smoking. To not join such “compulsory unions” would be anarchy.

  4. Monty 4

    I call bull shit on you politicisation of this Earthquake. Since Day one you have been pushing your leftist agenda with snide digs at the job the government has been doing. Here is yet another example of the Standard doing so again.

    The reality is that Facebook and social media are the most effective tools for mobilising the army of student volunteers.

    In all disasters people very quickly get themselves organised and get into helping people in any way that they can. I applaud the students and think they are doing a wonderful and self-less thing, but do not kid your socialist and warped minds that this would not have happened if the student unions had been crushed (as they deserve to be)

    I suspect that those on the left are pissed because your pathetic “National are doing Nothing about recovery after the earthquake” is now very very distasteful and Labour will not be able to use that line ever again.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      I call bull shit on you politicisation of this Earthquake. Since Day one you have been pushing your leftist agenda with snide digs at the job the government has been doing

      I call bullshit on your call of bullshit.

      The Students Association is out there, getting a tonne of physical work done. That’s not political, but the threat to the existence of the Student Association is.

      I suspect that those on the left are pissed because your pathetic “National are doing Nothing about recovery after the earthquake” is now very very distasteful and Labour will not be able to use that line ever again.

      LOL are you a moron? That line will be used when it is deserved and there is a lot of time to decide that my Righty friend.

      I just hope that Key and English stay on the ball over the next few months and keep up a high level of help and assistance to Christchurch without scrimping and cutting corners like they did after September.

      • Bazar 4.1.1

        “The Students Association is out there, getting a tonne of physical work done. That’s not political, but the threat to the existence of the Student Association is.”

        But this post has used the earthquake to make the VSM bill look bad. It took an national disaster and politicalized it. And it didn’t even have the nerve to wait till the dead are buried.

        All for what, to point out that with VSM those students woudln’t be helping?
        That STUDENT membership should be compulsory because in the event of an earthquake, it comes in handy?

        You talk about tax cuts for the rich, but compulsory membership is effectivly a tax for the the students, the poor.
        I’d rather student membership be optional, and increase the tax rate by 0.0001% for greater funding to the civil defense. If thats the justification for compulsory membership.

        The orginal artical goes on about how great the movements are in countries run by dictators, but it was done by VOLUNTARY MEMBERSHIP. Facebook, twitter and others. Those aren’t compulsory.
        Indeed if they were, i expect very much that the goverments would have cracked down on them and greatly limited their effectiveness.

        This post is bullshit. Its just a cheap shot at the VSM bill, trying to assoicate itself with the best movements, when there isn’t any link.

  5. I had understood that the Student Volunteer Army following the first earthquake was begun by some random guy who started a facebook group, and who wasn’t part of the UCSA machinery. Was I mistaken?

    • lprent 5.1

      Sure that is what always happens, a person has an idea and sells it to an existing organisation.

      However without an organisational backbone those efforts would have been ineffective. That is clearly the case in what I’ve seen in this case.

      The equipment doesn’t appear by magic. The coordination with emergency services doesn’t happen when they don’t know who to talk to.

      • I would guess, that in the event of VSM, instead of approaching the Student Union Manager employed by UCSA, they’d approach the Student Services Manager employed by UC and get much the same result.

        Most countries do not have laws which make students’ association membership compulsory (or laws which enable people to vote on whether they should be) and yet still have universities with strong student cultures. One of the first responses in terms of fundraising etc. I saw to the Earthquake through Facebook was AUSA, who like most of the other organisations offering assistance – from the Red Cross, to the Salvation Army – don’t have mandatory membership.

        The idea that if VSM comes then all student organisation and all NZ universities will cease, and students will no longer join with each other for a whole bunch of things just has to be misplaced. The organisations primarily responsible at present will have a tough time of it for a few years, but things will right themselves – strong support provided by Students’ Associations toward WWI (and I think WWII – when did compulsory start?) were done without Students’ Associations having a legislative mandate.

        • Shane Gallagher 5.1.1.1

          Well we are basing it on the empirical evidence of what happened in Australia. (see Zugzug’s quote above.)

          I know that right-wingers are quite divorced from reality – you merely have to read some of the posts here to figure that one out – but on the left wing we look at evidence and facts and annoying things like that and try to understand how humans actually work and not how some RWNJ thinks they should work.

          Harking back to WWI and WWII is crazy – the world was very different then and universities were very small and practically everyone would have known each other. It is easy to organise in that environment. But now you have universities with 20,000 students and 6,000 staff and campuses spread all over a city or cities then it is very difficult to organise. Otago University and the Dunedin City Council were both strongly opposed to this bill because they know what will happen and it will be bad for the university and the city.

          • Carol 5.1.1.1.1

            I would guess, that in the event of VSM, instead of approaching the Student Union Manager employed by UCSA, they’d approach the Student Services Manager employed by UC and get much the same result.

            And who would provide the strong voice speaking on behalf of students when the university raises student fees, increases class sizes etc? I doubt it would be provided by someone appointed by the University management.

          • Clint 5.1.1.1.2

            Such a pity for you that the NZ VSM bill has nothing to do with the Aussie one. Our one doesn’t force SA’s to collect the levies like they do over there, which was the reason why many of their ones were spending money they didn’t have.

            Love that this blog has sunk so low yet again to milk this tragedy. Whatever next? Nice to know you still can’t figure out how social networking works, or that no student was forced to help our in this disaster, compulsory union or not.

        • JS 5.1.1.2

          Graeme, NZ universities in that era were villages with only a few hundred mostly part time students, so the associations were the social network.
          In my experience, today’s universities with VSM have few services, and there is no university-based culture of social cohesion which would provide this type of social capital that we have seen in Chch.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.3

          strong support provided by Students’ Associations toward WWI

          That’s not really surprising. The students in that time were the descendants of the rich and conservative. Same until after WWII – before they sent in the army to break the dock workers strike in 1951 they sent in the students. It’s truly amazing at how well organised the rich and powerful are – they just don’t like it when the poor are also well organised.

      • Inventory2 5.1.2

        I call “bullshit” on that Lprent. Check this out:

        http://www.newswarped.com/2010/09/student-facebook-army-helps-clean-up-after-christchurch-earthquake/

        Following the Christchurch earthquake local university students have harnessed the power of Facebook to raise a 1600 strong army of helpers to assist the community with the massive clean-up.

        Canterbury University students Sam Johnson, Bob Shearing, Jonathan David Darby and Gina Scandrett have put together a Facebook page called ‘Student Volunteer base for Earthquake clean up’ are are harnessing the power of the internet and changing some peoples perceptions of young people.

        Project Co-creator Sam Johnson said “We have a spare week to do some good for the community. It’s the perfect opportunity to come out and do something decent.” Students have been on mid-semester break, but the earthquake has extended that another week.

        The student volunteers plan is simple “Basically what needs to be done is door-knocking in teams and offering to help clear properties. Wheelbarrows, shovels, gumboots, yardbrooms … hunt them out!”

        Mr Johnson, 21, said he got the idea from other Facebook events created after the quake.

        The students’ association might have got involved later on; johnnie-come-latelies. The intital impetus came from individuals getting off their butts and doing something; they mobilised 1600 people via social media and later the msm. It was Facebook that got my daughter out and digging in September; the students’ assn did not drive this, and it is bollocks to give them the kudos.

        • lprent 5.1.2.1

          So? Anyone who does any type of voluntary activity knows that all of the good ideas in the world start with individuals in or outside organisations. If you want something to happen in real time you start setting up outside of formal organisations to get things going. You then coopt the organisations to make the ideas effective.

          What I am saying that without a organisation to make volunteer work effective, then all you have is an ineffective rabble that the emergency services can’t use.

          Hell I have seen that happen in the army, let alone in social organisations.

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.2.2

          The students’ association might have got involved later on; johnnie-come-latelies.

          I have to laugh at how dismissive you are of anyone who turned up to help in Christchurch on the Wed or Thu of this week as “Johnnie Come Latelies”

          You loser.

          • Inventory2 5.1.2.2.1

            No CV; Lprent and Eddie are the losers for trying to claim this as a UCSA initiative when it patently isn’t. Sam Johnson showed true leadership is getting this initiative up and running along with his friends.

            And FYI, if I could go down to Christchurch right this minute I would, but my wife and I have been warned not to by family down there. We persoanlly know at least four people (so far) who have died, we have staff members whose homes are uninhabitable, and we have numerous shell-shocked relatives and friends. We’ve done stuff-all work since Tuesday, but we have formed a charitable trust to raise funds to help our affected staff.

            • lprent 5.1.2.2.1.1

              Lprent and Eddie are the losers for trying to claim this as a UCSA initiative when it patently isn’t

              Bullshit. Neither of us claimed that the UCSA initiated this. What we are claiming is that such an initiative would have been ineffective without the UCSA or another organisation making it effective. The relevant section in the post was:-

              Without the Students’ Association, how would this kind of manpower be organised? It would be more ad hoc, smaller-scale, and less effective. Many uni students who will gladly rally behind a cause like the Student Volunteer Army might stay at home without an organisation to lead and coordinate them.

              That is the issue that you appear to not want to look at. Instead you’d prefer to lie.

              BTW: How do you reconcile your self-trumpeted morality with such outright misrepresentation of what we said?

              • Lprent said

                Bullshit. Neither of us claimed that the UCSA initiated this.

                Sorry LP, but how do you reconcile that with this, from Eddie’s post?

                As after the first earthquake, the Students’ Association has taken it upon itself to form a volunteer army of thousands to tackle the liquefaction that has devastated suburbs. All the reports are that they’re doing great and selfless work and helping nieghbourhoods back on to their feet.

                Sam Johnson and friends “formed” this army of volunteers, not the UCSA. Who’s lying now?

                Interestingly too, although the UCSA Volunteer Army FB page was apparently created on 4 September 2010, there’s nothing on it prior to 22/2/2011; funny that …

                • lprent

                  ‘Form’ says nothing about initiate. It doesn’t say that they came up with the idea. It does not even imply it as you did.

                  Formed as a verb has a quite specific meaning when it comes to military (ie in this case an army). It means to create formations that as a whole make up a larger body. So in the army, you will have platoons, making up a company, which in turn make up regiments, which make up divisions, which make up armies. It means that you can use units individually in a manner that is coherent as a whole. It reduces the span of control issues and minimize confusion and duplicated effort.

                  If you look at the footage or even the news reports, what you see is students arriving at tables organized by the SU to be formed into groups, and then given an area to head to. That is creating formations, one of the most essential tasks in organizing any volunteer group.

                  Perhaps if you can contain your unrighteous bile long enough to actually read the frigging writing once in a while to see what it actually says…

                • lprent

                  Oh and the USCA also helped with a similar exercise back in September – it was less because there wasn’t such a large task.

  6. Nick C 6

    Organisations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army are all voluntary, yet they have excellent organisational structures and are able to coordinate massive volunteer efforts. In fact the vast majority of truely community organisations are voluntary. The only other non governmental organisations I have heard people name that are compulsory is stuff like the Law Society, which serves an entirely different purpose.

    [lprent: I’ll let that one through the ban. Useful comment. ]

    • lprent 6.1

      There are numerous bodies around that have some degree of compulsion. For instance the BSA, the ASA, the Real Estate Institute, the Medical Association, Chartered Accountants, whatever body runs registered nurses, etc etc. Most of those are also compulsory either for people to practice in the area and frequently by legislative sanction.

      In most cases there are people who are rancorously opposed to those organisations existing. In most cases these bodies not only provide some degree of guarantee to the public, but they also provide services to their members. Most have some degree of legislative support.

      Student associations provide a guarantee to the universities that they are representing the interests of all students and also provide services to their members. They also have legislative support.

      What is the difference? Eddie has provided a explanation for the distinction that some people see. I haven’t seen anyone else provide any thing that appears valid.

      (And I will let one response through, so I’d suggest you save it until others have commented as well and you can do a omnibus response.)

    • The Law Society is not compulsory. It does exercise some regulatory functions (like a court, but with a much more limited mandate). The others listed in other comments are similar.

      No-one is suggesting students should be able to opt-out/be required to opt-in to the regulatory functions of a university, or those which the university might devolve to students.

  7. Dan 7

    Sorry, but the Chartered Accountancy example here is redundant. The Chartered Accountant’s Society membership is mandatory if you wish to call yourself a chartered accountant. It is different because it a body that enforces professional standards and also controls (through some degree of indirectness) the standards of financial reporting framework in this country.

    They would only be comparable to students if student associations’ regulated their members affairs (which very few do). Student Associations are advocacy organisations, not regulatory ones. They carry little responsibility compared to the scale of power held by organisations like IPENZ, NZICA, NZMC. Comparing the compulsion here is not comparing apples with apples because these bodies also protect the integrity of their professions amongst the general public.

    • lprent 7.1

      The [students association] membership is mandatory if you wish to call yourself a [student].

      They act on the councils of the university for their members, and also provide services for their students. The only thing that they lack is a disciplinary body. Perhaps that should be added? 😈

      In fact if you go and look back into the histories of universities I seem to remember you will find times that they did have disciplinary functions as well. For instance on associated bodies like clubs.

      • Dan 7.1.1

        you don’t “have” to be a member of an association to call yourself a student, if I am to believe the “you can easily opt-out” argument that people bring up to quash the compulsion element. So which is it?

        Associations don’t do disciplinary stuff anymore (although many associations have defacto reps on disciplinary tribunals, so it’s much of a muchness).

        My point is, one group is responsible for the professional development and standards of an industry. Are students required to attend so many hours of student association training a year to retain their status as “students”? I don’t require training and certification to be called a student. I require training and certification ( as well as on ongoing development) to be a doctor, IPENZ certified Engineer, NZICA qualified accountant, etc. It’s not the same, which ever way you spin it.

  8. chris 8

    So you are saying we should have compulsory student unions just in-case a disaster strikes? Come on you have to have a better argument that that.

    The fact is these young men and women would have been volunteering via other models – Sallys etc – the organization is unimportant. It certainly isn’t a reasonable argument for unions.

    Its not their purpose.

    • lprent 8.1

      One of the main reason to have social organisations of all kinds is to provide organisational structure during disasters. In some cases it is explicit, for instance in the armed forces or scouts, but in most cases it is implicit in that the organisation exists and will provide a organizing focus during times of emergency. They are certainly viewed that way in civil defense planning and if you look at the legislation you’ll find that their formation is encouraged in a variety of means.

      If you took your narrow focus that they are only there for the specific purposes that benefit their members, then you should also be arguing that the non-profit and charity status of all organisations should be removed because they have no benefit to the society that encapsulates them. They are only there to benefit their members.

      That is as absurd notion as the one ascribed to Thatcher – “there is no such thing as society”.

      The time you find out that there is such a thing as a society rather than just a disparate group of individuals is when you have emergencies like the current one. At that point you find the other reasons that as a society we encourage the formation of all of these compulsory and voluntary organisations. Because they are already in existence they swing into action to direct the energy of volunteers productively and efficiently to ensure that the society continues and doesn’t fall apart in disaster shock.

      My general opinion of the people like the Zombie or the Act party who advocate that everything should operate on the basis of individual action only (ans there is no such thing as a society) is that they are clearly just freeloaders on society. They expect that the social organisations should exist to cope with unexpected events, but are unprepared to carry the cost for maintaining them.

      The multifarious organisations in the community are what makes it a resilient society.

      • My general opinion of the people like the Zombie or the Act party who advocate that everything should operate on the basis of individual action only (ans there is no such thing as a society) is that they are clearly just freeloaders on society.

        What is Zombie-like about Heather Roy?

        • lprent 8.1.1.1

          Beats me – I have never met her or found any of her ideas when I have been reading. In fact about the only thing I know about her is that she is a MP, in the TF, and my mother admires her performance when she came went back into parliament after a brief time away after being dumped as deputy leader because she disagreed with Hide.

          The Zombie refers to Roger Douglas who doesn’t appear to have managed to change his mind on anything since the 80’s regardless of any evidence that shows many of his ideas to have been rather destructive to society when implemented.

  9. TightyRighty 9

    God that is self-serving, partisan, blinkered bullshit eddie, you wanker. I was there for the quake and the immediate aftermath. I saw people who have gone through five months of continuous trauma, pick themselves up and dust themselves off and get to work again tidying and helping and trying to get through another tough situation. Individuals in both wealthy and poor suburbs. Not only civil organisations, but private ones. the road workers staying at their jobs and directing traffic, the builders and plumbers helping to clear rubble and turn off water and gas mains, dairy owners giving out free bread, milk and water, the moteliers taking in all sorts, opening their homes and fridges and sharing and caring. the people down there are tough and resilient and for you to consider it trite to label them as such, from the safety of your ivory tower, is demeaning to all that those people have gone through and are hoping to come out from.

  10. Colonial Viper 10

    The Right wish to undermine the resiliency and organisation that civil societies bring to their communities.

    Its quite incorrect – idiotic in fact – to say that you can achieve this same resiliency by Facebook or other social networking.

    Why is it incorrect?

    Because Facebook is just a FRAKING COMMS TOOL, you still need an organisation behind it to plan, lead and manage operations and logistics.

    *Sigh* no wonder Bill and John are running this country into the ground. Reminds me of this young National supporter I talked to. No idea of how society works or doesn’t work for the bottom 75% of people in NZ. If people want more pay, a better job they should get off their fat dole ass and get qualified I was told. Yeah I said, and don’t forget the next step after you finish your training: leave for Australia because those running the economy here have figured out they can make more money without employing New Zealanders.

    They didn’t look impressed by that, but from the reaction I got I reckon they knew it was true.

    • Clint 10.1

      Er, no Facebook is much more than a comms tool. I use it daily to rally individuals into action for a great many projects I run. You can’t force people into anything.
      Mind you, this is the best thing UCSA has done for decades. Although they technically did just join an already established set up, and how many students need to be involved before you call it the actions of a selfless union? Or is it just called that in Strandedspeak to politicise a tragedy for cheap point scoring.
      Bet none if the students out there actually thought that they were acting on behalf of their union and were instead acting on behalf of humanity.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        Dude its a comms tool. Yes you can use it in innovative ways that you can’t a cellphone or txt, but a comms tool is what it is.

        You still need organisation, planning, leadership behind it, driven by real people in the real world. FB does ZERO of that, but it is a useful TOOL.

  11. ak 11

    Exactly, Lynn. I’m sure our so delightfully christian Monty will of course be vehemently opposed to the socialist tax-and-rating unfairness enjoyed by the catholic church – and of course all our deeply-principled anti-compulsion armchair freedom-fighters will also now be similarly opposed to any of our “hard-earned tax dollars” going to Christchurch, because that’s compulsory too.

  12. DS 12

    >>>Graeme, NZ universities in that era were villages with only a few hundred mostly part time >>>students, so the associations were the social network.

    Exactly. Students’ Associations became compulsory in the early twentieth century, not because of legislative diktat but because they made the case to their respective institutions that they needed compulsory membership in order to function as the student population grew larger. Throughout the first quarter of the twentieth century the Canterbury Students’ Association was coming under severe pressure due to the free-rider problem: people enjoying student services (back in those days this was largely Club support) without paying for them.

    Up until the 1990s, there was again no legislative diktat on this: it was left up to the individual Universities, and enrolling pretty much amounted to a package deal whereby you automatically became a Students’ Association member (a case of don’t like it, don’t enrol). The current 1990s legislation introduced the current referendum model, as well as setting out the conscientious objection provision.

    As for other countries, Britain has compulsory, Canada has compulsory, continental Europe has compulsory, and the US’s university system is too damn complicated to generalise about. Only Australia has tried anything like this, and it was a disaster (I won’t say failure, because VSM achieves exactly what it is intended to achieve: the silencing of students’ political voice. The chilling of the campus environment and the gutting of student services are simply the price that the Right are willing to pay in order to crush students’ associations).

    anti-spam: damaging

    • Up until the 1990s, there was again no legislative diktat on this: it was left up to the individual Universities, and enrolling pretty much amounted to a package deal whereby you automatically became a Students’ Association member (a case of don’t like it, don’t enrol). The current 1990s legislation introduced the current referendum model, as well as setting out the conscientious objection provision.

      Ahh … the Libertarian model. Why weren’t opponents of this change pushing this more?

      Section 229 of the Education Act 1989 (added in 1991) made membership legislatively compulsory. The referendum bits weren’t added until 1998.

      • DS 12.1.1

        I can’t find the wording of the original Education Act 1989 section 229 online, but IIRC, the emphasis there was that it was compulsory to pay a fee to the students’ association (to avoid the free-rider problem), rather than emphasising “membership”.

        As for the “libertarian” argument in favour of the current arrangements, the argument was put forward. Many times. Unfortunately, the Government had no interest in listening.

        • Graeme Edgeler 12.1.1.1

          1. It was about both.

          229 FEES PAYABLE TO ASSOCIATIONS OF STUDENTS—

          (4) Subject to such exemption from membership on the grounds of conscientious objection as the statutes provide, every student shall on payment by him or her of the prescribed fee be deemed to be a member of the association on whose behalf the fee is collected.

          The 1990 amending legislation is available here: http://www.nzlii.org/nz/legis/hist_act/eaa19901990n60211/

          2. The current system isn’t libertarian. A libertarian system would leave it as a matter of contract between the student and the university. The current system does not do this.

          • mcflock 12.1.1.1.1

            Sorry, what was that bit before the boldface? Oh, here it is:

            “Subject to such exemption from membership on the grounds of conscientious objection as the statutes provide, ”

            Amazing how the meaning of a sentence changes if you only read half of it.

            • Graeme Edgeler 12.1.1.1.1.1

              I didn’t only read half of it. Conscientious objection does not allow people to just opt-out.

              If Labour and the Greens had, as soon as it was clear that National was going to support the bill to Select Committee come out and said “We agree that there needs to be change, but it shouldn’t gut students’ association, so we’ll support a full opt-out system,” National would have jumped at the chance, and the 200 people at each campus who care would leave with their money and students’ associations would continue on pretty much as they have for the last decade.

              • mcflock

                Yeah, that’s right. Blame the left and Labour for the ACT Bill, because

                a) they forced Act to write this pseudo-religious BS; and

                b) they should have offered to compromise a perfectly reasonable status quo on the off-chance that National support was never guaranteed in order to give Act an inconsequential victory in an area that nobody else particularly cares about.

                As for your point on conscientions objection, can we assume we’ve had a 15 round tit for tat and haven’t changed our opinions of it or each other? If not, I’m sure you can get my first half dozen points as to why you’re wrong by simply searching the TS backlogs. I’ll join you later.

                • I’m not blaming the left for ACT’s bill. ACT’s bill is in perfectly reasonable language and an acceptable mechanism of achieving their goal of increasing freedom. They have further than strictly necessary to achieve most of this aim, but not that much further, and certainly consistently with ACT and National policy.

                  I am suggesting that the parliamentary left, if they were truly concerned that the bill in its present form was going to mean the end of all student culture and community in general, should have, when the writing was on the wall, offered a compromise consistent with their arguments (i.e. that “You can opt out!”), which I am confident National would have accepted.

                  That they weren’t prepared to offer that compromise in that way is a proximate cause of the bill still largely being in the form that it was when it was introduced. National has the numbers with ACT to pass some form of VSM – if it’s a form of VSM that Labour truly believes will be the end of student services, then Labour bears some responsibility for it staying that way.

                  • McFlock

                    Okay, here’s the thing. Compromise is impossible with fundamentalist nutjobs (political/economic as well as religious). All that happens is you get dragged towards the nutjobbery.

                    There already was an opt-out gateway. If you can’t see that then I guess we are intractably divided, with no chance of meaningful “compromise”.

                    • I wasn’t suggesting a compromise with ACT. I was suggesting a compromise with National.

                      All I’m saying is that if Labour had proposed changing what you call “the opt-out gateway” to a true opt-out system National would have said “yes” very quickly.

                      Remove the requirement to: apply to the Students’ Association, giving reasons, which must be philosophical opposition to all compulsion, not for example strong political disagreement; appear before a committee to plead your case if the President disagrees with you; where you can still have your argument rejected and thus still be forced to be a member of the students’ association; and even if you succeed, the Students’ Association can decide on a charity to give your money to, and they may or may not ask your opinion on which.

                      Instead, make it: go to the registry, write your name and student ID on a form, sign at the bottom saying you don’t want to be a member and get your money back/refunded to studylink.

                      ACT might have opposed that, I don’t believe National would have. 98%+ of students would still be full financial members of their students’ association, and student culture, which you fear will be lost, would have been saved.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Not a bad application of Libertarian Paternalism, if I do say so myself.

                    • McFlock

                      National’s support for the bill is based on
                      a)shitting on students’ associations; and
                      b) keeping ACT’s support in confidence and supply by supporting something about which the wider public doesn’t give a damn.

                      Unless Labour or the Greens were going to support national on confidence and supply, National was going to support this bill.

                    • I agree that, once this bill was drawn from the ballot, National was going to support legislative measures freeing up membership of students’ associations.

                      This may even be their preferred legislative solution.

                      But I don’t think it’s the only one they’d support, and think if something was offered in return (e.g. it not being a fight in election year/it being an enduring solution) then a less radical reform could have resulted.

                      ACT might not have been completely happy, but they wouldn’t have thrown their toys if National had said “We support changing students’ associations to full opt-out.”

                    • McFlock

                      A less radical step backwards is still a step backwards, and would have had little difference beyond semantics.

                      This was a done deal from the get-go, so why bother selling out your principles in a futile effort? Oh, people made submissions (mostly ignored), danced the select committee dance and all that jazz, but it was mostly just so the pricks couldn’t say it had universal support. Selling out wasn’t a viable option.

                      National were never going to miss the opportunity to get a free IOU from Act over something that not many people actually give a damn about, even if it is the wrong decision.

    • Nick C 12.2

      Big universities may be a problem in some respects, but not one solved by compulsory membership. One of the major complaints about these associations is that they are run by the few, for the few. Turnout at student association elections is frequently around 5%, meaning you get just 1,000 people voting in a student body of 20,000 (and of course it’s the same people voting every year). How can student associations claim to represent all students with those numbers? That also flows on to their accountability; you frequently see large percentages of their budget spent just on paying the wages of the exec and staff members and other admin costs (VUWSA is 70% admin costs) with little left for things like clubs. Size is not a particularly good excuse either: Red Cross and Salvation Army are far bigger than any students association yet opperate fine on a voluntary basis.

      Going back to the point about other compulsory membership groups; as far as I can see students associations are the only compulsory association in New Zealand without regulatory powers of some kind. Thats because all the other professional groups exist as an alternative to regulation; it’s considered easier for the industry to self regulate and compulsory membership is nessesary to achieve that. When it comes to simple service provision and self advocacy the students association is the only group I can think of which of which is compulsory.

      Another interesting thing to note is that UCSA, like the voluntary AUSA, opperates on a no fees model. Don’t know exactly how it works but I think they have service provision contracts with the uni to provide all food on campus, and they make enough money off that to run smoothly. So they will probably lose members when VSM comes in, but not as many as the SA’s which want you to pay $150 to join. Those organisations have typically been run in a very short sighted way because they have lacked the incentive to think about sustainability; in the past they could always rely on CSM to deliver more revenue every year. They will have to think about ways to improve, but the good ones will survive just fine.

      [lprent: response let through ban. ]

      • VUWSA isn’t 70% admin.

        It’s something that has been repeated frequently, but it’s simply not true.

        VUWSA publishes its accounts and budget to its members. Each of the areas it provides services in (e.g. education advocacy, activities, clubs support) has a staff member. That staff member’s time is appropriate included not as “Admin” but would properly be assigned to the area in which that staff member works. Except then, everyone would know exactly how much each staff member earns (because there’s only one staff member working for clubs, and only one for activities etc.). To avoid letting everyone know how much each staff member earns, all the salaries are combined in one line in the budget, which is included under the admin heading because it doesn’t fit anywhere else.

        Also – the UCSA system works by the university giving some amount of money per equivalent full time student to UCSA (a few years back it was around $70 per EFTS, I don’t know what it is now). They do do the best of any students’ association on running their corporate side (or at least they did a few years back), but the direct funding per EFTS comes in pretty handy (it was around 20% of their income at the time, I think.

      • DS 12.2.2

        >>>One of the major complaints about these associations is that they are run by the few, for the >>>few. Turnout at student association elections is frequently around 5%, meaning you get just >>>1,000 people voting in a student body of 20,000 (and of course it’s the same people voting >>>every year). How can student associations claim to represent all students with those numbers?

        It’s actually more than 5%, but you are overlooking the fact that students vote with their feet: there are plenty of people out there who appreciate the services students’ associations provide without voting in executive elections.

        >>>that also flows on to their accountability; you frequently see large percentages of their >>>budget spent just on paying the wages of the exec and staff members and other admin costs >>>(VUWSA is 70% admin costs) with little left for things like clubs.

        Utter nonsense. Have you ever seen a students’ association budget?

        >>>Size is not a particularly good excuse either: Red Cross and Salvation Army are far bigger >>>than any students association yet opperate fine on a voluntary basis.

        OK then, let’s try making local council rates voluntary, and see how many services remain after that (after all, if the services are good, people will pay, right?).

        >>>Another interesting thing to note is that UCSA, like the voluntary AUSA, opperates on a no >>>fees model.

        The UCSA model is a service level agreement with the University. Students still pay fees, it just goes via the University first. AUSA gets funding from the University to supplement its commercial income. Under such a model, the Students’ Association becomes reliant on the goodwill of the institution (which isn’t guaranteed long-term, especially if the Students’ Association has to stand up for students against the University).

        >>>Those organisations have typically been run in a very short sighted way because they have >>>lacked the incentive to think about sustainability; in the past they could always rely on CSM >>>to deliver more revenue every year

        You do realise that students’ associations have to get their budgets approved by the membership, right? There was never anything stopping a bunch of angry students turning up and voting down any non-zero levy.

        >>>They will have to think about ways to improve, but the good ones will survive just fine.

        Reality and history says otherwise.

        • Clint 12.2.2.1

          Actually we did try to get fees lowered to zero at Otago but OUSA called the meeting invalid and held a top secret exec meeting to pass their annual budget.
          Things like this have been occurring around the country for decades and not forgetting that well publicised event where VUWSA also circumnavigated democracy which was caught on camera.

          You’re right, reality and history are two different things. The only people who seem to think associations are perfect democracies are those who are fully entrenched inside them, but their definition of democracy would make Gaddafi blush 🙂

          • McFlock 12.2.2.1.1

            “Actually we did try to get fees lowered to zero at Otago but OUSA called the meeting invalid and held a top secret exec meeting to pass their annual budget.”

            And in the real world you’ll probably find that the meeting was inquorate so the previous year’s budget stood. As per the democratically-determined constitution. And so the exec had to meet to sort out how they were going to mesh that with inflation and the annual staff pay increase.

            “Top secret”? Nice one, Walter Mitty.

            I mean, this is what gets me about these jerks – how is one supposed to “compromise” or “engage with” someone who is either clinically delusional or wilfully diverges from reality?
            An exec meeting becomes “top secret” because nobody bothered to personally phone Clint? Normally I find this shit funny. Now it just irritates me. Must be getting old.

  13. SHG 13

    I’m just glad that sites like this aren’t using the Christchurch disaster as an opportunity to get in political commentary. Because that would be really low.

  14. tsmithfield 14

    Reading this contributions to this thread it seems that the proponents of a compulsory student’s association are mounting an argument as follows:

    1. Organisation and structure was required to co-ordinate and resource the clean-up by students.
    2. The student’s association was very effective in organising and resourcing the clean-up.
    3. The student’s association is currently a compulsory body.
    4. The clean-up have been less effective if the students association wasn’t compulsory.

    Problem is the argument doesn’t deductively follow because it requires “compulsory” to equal better organised than voluntary. However, as pointed out above there are numerous organisations based on voluntary membership that are in fact very well organised. Therefore, an organisation based on voluntary membership may well have been as organised or even better organised than the compulsory one.

    Also, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the student’s association was required to give the organisation and structure. If the student’s association wasn’t there, this organisation and structure may have come from another source.

    Furthermore, it seems to me that the response of the students was motivated by their concern for the community rather than whether they were members of the student union or not. Therefore, it seems to me that participation in the clean-up would not have been reduced if membership was voluntary rather than compulsory.

    Therefore I score Eddie’s article with a fail.

  15. lprent 15

    Another case of having a core organisation providing a framework for volunteers from the community to be effective.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10708691

    Victim Support had staff rostered on at Papanui Police station 24 hours a day and also had people at the indoor Pioneer Stadium from 9am to 8pm.

    It had about 20 staff and volunteers rostered on at any one time and was working to bring in more staff from around the country, with 100 people on standby and ready to come to the city.

  16. mcflock 16

    Argh, same old arguments, same regurgitated lies from the actoids, same old bs.

    Normally I’m up for it and VSM-idiocy is my old stalking horse, but I’m a bit glum at moment. No major reason for it (based in Dunners) but just can’t be bothered. But Lprent is cracking along mightily.

    Although I did enjoy the jerk who referred to Douglas as an “elder statesman”. And Edward Teach was a “major contributor to promoting safety on the high seas”.

    • lprent 16.1

      But Lprent is cracking along mightily.

      I was stuck on a coding problem this morning so I was writing comments (and a post) so I could ‘background’ the problem to think around it for a solution. As you can see that took some time before I gave up (for the moment), shelved it and moved on to the next issue. Moderating I do all of the time, but commenting is somewhat rarer.

      Besides I can’t see anything else that I really have to add about my views on the subject.

  17. kultur 17

    NACT dont like people forming associations – or even getting together … after all look what happened to Mubarak and poor old Muammar Gaddafi. People have this habit of coalescing and making decisions for themselves. Its a real problem.

    Roger Douglas wouldnt want people joining together in a common cause (or being required to join a cooperative association as part of signing up to being a student – whats wrong with it being mandatory to join a group who has a mandate to assist you and your kind) – keep the peasants fragmented and wanting …. in their rightful place. That slimy little prick fucked up the country singlehandedly and got a knighthood for it. Sooner he goes to a resthome and gets medicated beyond interference the better. Can we arrange to have him “sectioned” and incarcerated for being reckless in partial charge of a country?? You know – criminal insanity – that sort of thing?

    Servants to the regime – houseboys and maids to the elite. Thats what they want. I honestly think that the NACT types see themselves as Gentleman Farmers – gently and benevolently “farming” the middle and lower classes – domesticating them and breeding the ‘wildness’ out of them. Making them more docile and productive – being prepared to live in the carefully planned straitened circumstances NACT engineer thereby ensuring they (meaning the NACT aristocrats) have their cake and eat it too.

    Word to NACT – sensible Kiwis are going to shove a giant spiky pineapple pointy bits upward – up that gaping orifice that is your arse in November. Enjoy the unfortunate and tragic accidental “respite” for you (while it lasts) …. of the Christchurch earthquake – it may well bite you on the arse despite your flagrant attempts to milk it for all its worth (as you will).

    All Rodders could say – was “it WAS shook and shook and shook…..” if he was in an english or comprehension class it would be “3 strikes and youre out…”

    • Clint 17.1

      All VSM does is take away the forced element behind it all, allowing free choice. Of course what you’re really admitting is that under VSM your illusions that people really supported their union will be shattered as people will be finally allowed to vote with their feet! Funny that, isn’t that what Gaddafi is also trying to prevent?

      Captchs

      • Marty G 17.1.1

        you know that VSM is an attempt to destroy the student unions because they’re seen as leftwing training grounds

        I don’t see ACT pushing a private members’ bill to make being a member of the law society voluntary,. Indeed it could easily be tacked on to Douglas’s bill but isn’t. I wonder why not.

        • higherstandard 17.1.1.1

          “The New Zealand Law Society was established by statute in 1869. The current legislation is the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 (LCA), which came into force on 1 August 2008. The Act continues the Society and sets out its regulatory and representative functions and powers. The Society regulates all lawyers, but membership of the Society is voluntary.”

          • Cheryl 17.1.1.1.1

            And membership of the NZ Law Society is free (at present), and has been since it became voluntary under the 2006 legislation. ‘Membership’ involves the representative functions and powers. NZLS holds significant financial reserves (including funds from what used to be the district law societies, except for Auckland which stayed out of that scheme) and is using those reserves to fund the representative functions while it works out whether lawyers will opt to join if they actually have to pay a membership fee.

            Meanwhile the regulatory side is compulsory and is funded by annual practising fees and levies (roughly $1500/lawyer). Every lawyer has to pay those fees, and every lawyer is subject to the regulatory functions and powers of NZLS. ‘Membership’ is not a relevant concept for that side of things. However, the ‘regulatory’ side is interpreted as including a lot of what might more usually be ‘representative’ functions, including making submissions.

            VSM was almost carried at Waikato University in 1980 (or maybe it was 1979). It came within a couple of votes of being carried. I can assure you that that campaign’s two organisers (of whom I was one) had no ulterior motive other than to avoid compulsion, including compulsory association with causes and campaigns that in reality were foisted on all students by a very small group who had the time and inclination to be involved in student politics when the rest of us were too busy studying. We were astonished at the fuss that ensued from our naive and courageous attempt to promote freedom of choice. There was a huge amount of misrepresentation against us, plus the full weight of what was then NZUSA. (Part of that misrepresentation was the claim that student services such as counselling support and cafeterias would collapse – we were not challenging the compulsory levy for student services, only the fee for the student association itself. I see similar claims in the posts on this site.) We had no political affiliations at that time, although that campaign certainly pushed me towards the right after I saw how the left behaved towards us.

            Freedom of association is now in the NZ Bill of Rights Act. It should be restricted only to the extent demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society. There is not an adequate basis for ongoing compulsion of NZ students in this way.

        • luva 17.1.1.2

          Nice one Marty………I am a Solictor but but not a member of the Law Society

      • Colonial Viper 17.1.2

        All VSM does is take away the forced element behind it all, allowing free choice.

        Ironic isn’t it? Free choice to join a student association or not, which then proceeds to destroy the free choice to be represented by a well resourced, inclusive, highly representative student association.

        More short termism at work here under the guise of “free choice’.

      • kultur 17.1.3

        Oh goody – now lets make Taxation voluntary (wonder how many will vote with their feet) Lets make GST and all compliance issues voluntary … small government – individual accountability – lets make driving rules voluntary, lets make rape and pillage voluntary, lets make parental responsibilities voluntary.

        You simply cant have your cake and eat it too.

        Small Government – everything voluntary and everyone exercising individual rights without checks and balances – or the clear recognition that humans need to be organised or we all start knocking each other off – or covetting our neighbours ass or ox – or stereo is nuts. … Sometimes providing resources that in a governance sense are seen as widely beneficial and benevolent and human-friendly – is necessary as being mandatory. I have no problem with Sir Roger proposing that there be controls and requirements and mandates that the Student Associations have to provide and account for to their membership and the intent and spirit of their formation.

        NACT just dont see the downstream effects of their slash and burn approach to centuries of human development. They are history denialists – and are turning darwins evolutionary theories on their head – wanting regression back to the primordial ooze.

  18. ak 18

    Exact equivalent of voluntary taxation: the jaded fuckwits know they’ve lost the war so vent their frustrations by re-living battles over piffle. Rome burns as the Nero-cons fiddle with their flaccid memories.

    • ak 18.1

      by th i mean BTW – as one with family involved, is anyone else sickened by the herald posting pix of the deceased on its site – piss off you stinking, cretinous ghouls

      • Colonial Viper 18.1.1

        What do you expect from a media outlet which publishes photos of our SAS while they are still in theatre.

      • Carol 18.1.2

        Stuff also has pics of the dead and missing. The media are running out of the urgent rescue stories. They still have an important role to play in informing people of various issues, guidelines, problems and ways to help. But they are now moving back to their old tricks and filling up the air-time with “human interest” stories – weddings, “what was it like?”, “how did it feel?”, and focus on the background of the victims – deaths, injuries, drama, and the emotive focus on individuals is their bread and butter in neoliberal times.

  19. neo leftie 19

    We all seem to be forgetting that there are whole neighbourhoods that are pitching in with little means or support, the media after 5 days has just started to focus on other stories apart from the CDB, brighton and the student army. We have huge numbers of people mostly disconnected, poor and dependant who are facing money, food etc shortages. On a positive note well done to businessess who are kicking into to support as well. Free gas from contact etc.

  20. kriswgtn 20

    I think its great the students mobilized to help out
    i think its great that CHCH people have looked after each other

    As an ex Cantabrian my best wishes go out to those affected in this quake

    Stay strong

    and keep the politics outta this disaster @ least at ground level

    Some of the most vile comments i have read on this blog over the weekend have disgusted me

    I am just glad no-one in my family who live there were hurt and I have 6 aunties alot of cousins

    I am still trying to find out re Ruru Lawn and the damage it may have suffered.
    We buried my Mom not too long ago there

    But yeah have some respect people

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