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The last student protest?

Written By: - Date published: 9:15 am, September 27th, 2011 - 55 comments
Categories: activism, education, Unions - Tags: , ,

One of the big stories last night was the anti-VSM protest at Auckland Uni. From TVNZ:

Police break up student protest

Police say a student protest outside their central Auckland HQ has ended with one arrest.

A group of students were sitting outside the station on Cook Street this evening after police earlier broke up a protest at the University of Auckland business school.  Hundreds of students barricaded themselves in the top floor of the Owen Glenn building this afternoon in response to Government plans to make student union membership voluntary. …

“This is an amazing turn-out and really demonstrates that student unity still exists,” student spokesperson Guy Cohen said earlier in the day. …

Students are hopeful the Government will have a change of heart and decide against backing the controversial law change, driven by the Act Party.  National has pledged to support it, despite 98% of submissions being against the change.

Hope is misplaced. National have an ideological hatred of anything with “union” in the title (a while back I suggested that Student Unions should “re-brand” themselves as local governments). By the end of the week VSM will be law.  David Shearer at Red Alert describes what will happen next:

Students will lose, but still pay

… Well, the university, polytech or institution will step in, charge students a levy, and continue some of the services through subcontracting companies or students to do it for them. It’s already been gazetted (NZ Gazette No. 138). Institutions can charge students for: advocacy and legal advice, careers advice and guidance, counselling services, employment information, financial support and advice, health servieces, childcare facilities, sports and recreation facilities.

In other words, all the stuff that supports students and makes these institutions of learning vital, interesting places.

So, voluntary student association membership will result in … money taken off students compulsorily, leaving them with no power to determine what services are kept. Taxation without representation is one way it can be represented.

Guy Cohen is right, student unity still exists. It was great to see protests all round the country today, with a big turnout in Auckland (following on from a prior big event at Otago).  But it’s entirely possible that with the gutting of student unions, this unity will not endure.  Have we just witnessed the last student protest?  That would suit the Nats very nicely (sheep will be so much easier to fleece).  But there’s no way it’s a healthy thing for democracy in New Zealand.

55 comments on “The last student protest? ”

  1. Bob Stanforth 1

    So, Auckland students, who are not members of a union as a result of not being forced to be a member, protesting about not being forced to be part of a union.

    Um, scuse me?

    • Joe Bloggs 1.1

      +1

    • McFlock 1.2

      So auckland students who have seen their students association get stuffed by VSM are pissed that they won’t be able to reverse the cockup, like WSU did. Oh, and now every other students’ association is stuffed, too.

      Meanwhile apparently Aus is looking at stepping back from the VSM stupitidty they imposed via governmnent act. Once again NZ is continuing the mistakes the rest of the world is trying to recover from.

      • Deadly_NZ 1.2.1

        Well to be Honest Key is a problem that we have been paying for for years (while he tried to ruin NZ with his speculating) and now we will keep paying for his brainless antics (hopefully for only a few months) or it will be for decades. What a nice thing to have on your CV…

        Budget 2010 Bill and I lied through our teeth 170k jobs, hehe yeah in your dreams.
        Feb 2011 Earthquakes Smiled and waved and laid the blame else where. Shit I looked Good.
        Sept 2011 Met Obama kissed arse, promised the world, tough shit on NZ. But fuck I looked good again.
        Oct 2011 Screwed the student unions, I got a new ‘fuck you’ wave. Shit I look good yet again.
        Nov 2011 OOPPSS caught out. Lost election laid blame at Bill’ n Stevens feet. Waved goodbye. Off to Hawaii back to work at the bank.
        2012 Fuck got caught again trying to kill NZ’s currency. Fuck I have got to have my revenge on the labourites that made me look bad.

        Well thats what it looks like to me. Mr vacant smile ‘n’ wave will always come up smelling of roses, More’s the pity..

  2. Tigger 2

    Irony that ACT should drive an anti-student law when their leader is courting the student vote with his ‘dope for everyone’ idea is a desperate pitch to youf.

  3. MikeE 3

    Auckland has been voluntary for the last 12 years. What change are they protesting exactly?

    • The Voice of Reason 3.1

      The loss of choice, I would have thought, MikeE. Auckland Uni at least went voluntary as the result of a democratic decision, not as a result of being dictated to by ACT.

    • aerobubble 3.2

      They voluntarily choose to goto university and are not paid to do so, unlike
      a union of paid workers. As someone pointed out, student union fees were
      more like rates charges. The purpose of a union of student is to provide
      students with the means to engage one another in a experimental forum,
      testing area, before they eventually enter the big smoke. So you find
      people working together to share a house, or go rock climbing, or
      joining a debating team, or yes arguing politics at a union election.
      So why would we want to produce a bunch of stunted students
      who knuckle under, or worse, who go off campus to get their political
      and other non-accreited learning. Like they do in Iran and other tosspot
      countries. Its pure extremist nonsense to do away with student rates
      charges, right out of the wacky ACT policy manual. It won’t even
      save money, the multiplier effect of having a guarenteed income
      means that students can do more with less within a compulsory union.
      WTF, you weren’t suppose to actually listen to the thatcherites,
      they were always too flaky to be taken seriously, how could you
      not have noticed they have destroyed capitalism, we have global
      lousy capitalism now that fails to address the needs of our species
      and the needs of free markets. Free markets are in open rebellion
      now against Thatchers tyranny.

  4. You_Fool 4

    They are protesting because they know what the effects of VSM is, that is exactly what is put in this article: Taxation without Representation, well without automatic representation.

    Under Universal Student Membership people pay their membership fees in their uni fees, and can at any time go and rescind that membership and receive a pro-rata portion of the fees back. No one is holding a gun to your head to stay in the union if you don’t want.

    Under VSM people pay some fee to the uni who then contracts out the services, generally to the local student union which results in no one getting a say in how much the fee is or if they want to be part of the system or not, you have to pay if you want to go to uni because it is now a uni fee, not a union membership. So now everyone still pays but not everyone is represented, nor does anyone have any say on what the fee is actually used for, though there is a say in what the union will put in a tender for and at what cost.

    This all sounds totally democratic to me….

    • aerobubble 4.1

      Waikato after years of voluntary membership voted to go back to compulsory
      membership. So WTF are you talking about? Students had choice before,
      with VSM they won’t be able to choose to opt out as they are now,
      they will be forced to opt out.

  5. Rijab 5

    Young ACT members are so deceptive in the arguments they’re using in this debate. They’ve been sitting around social media smoking their joints and claiming that only a small proportion of students were out protesting and the majority support this law. This simply is not true. Hundreds of students have been protesting because hundreds are aware of what the consequences of this law will be. The others will realise in the coming years that they’ll still pay for the services but now they’ve lost the representation and the ability to help the students who need extra assistance.

    They don’t say that they never even tried to hold student referendums to invoke voluntary unionism … they know they’d never get real support so they have the fake a sentiment, along their entirely manufactured crisis.

    Most students are good honest hardworking giving people who are free thinking and capable of realising the benefits that students associations offer them. Some other students are narcissistic scumbags who couldn’t think of anything worse than giving to the collective.

  6. queenstfarmer 6

    This is an amazing turn-out and really demonstrates that student unity still exists

    Then what’s their problem – as they think it’s so great, I’m sure all of those protesters will be first in line to sign up to their voluntary unions (like AUSA is already…).

    Oh that’s right, their problem is that they are upset because they won’t be able to compel other students to join their association too.

  7. Lanthanide 7

    bf thinks that maybe this won’t change anything in Canterbury, if passed.

    He said that the student services fee is charged by the university, which then contracts the UCSA to provide the actual services. If this is the case, there is no student union membership fee and therefore nothing will change. It also means other universities should be able to adopt the same system.

    • Zorr 7.1

      If UoC even remains tenable in the coming years… >_<

    • McFlock 7.2

      The problem with students’ associations as “service contractors” to the university is that they are then reliant on keeping the university happy. Advocacy is at risk of becoming the university’es first opportunity to sweep a problem under the carpet, and the association itself is at risk of simply becoming the university’s events manager – get ’em pissed, keep ’em pissed, don’t care so much if assignments are habitually marked unfairly or the hall RAs are being screwed worse than IHC caregivers.

  8. Afewknowthetruth 8

    The class war was effectibely lost in the late 1960s to early 1970s, when students were shot dead for protesting against US involvement in Vietnam and the French students attempt to overthrow the system in 1968 failed.

    All empires crush oppostion in the short term but collapse in the long term. The present military-industrial-petroleum-financial empire will be no different, though its collapse will be somewhat faster than the collapse of most previous empires, since all the factors that make the present empire possible have already been stretched well beyond the limit of sanity or sustanability.

    The next major round of protest in NZ will probably occur when the NZ government attempts to impose Greek-style austerity on the populace. Depending on how quickly things melt down overseas, that may not occur until around 2014-15 in NZ.

    On the other hand, the financial fraud being perpetrated in Europe at the moment over Greece’s inability to service the interest on loans (let alone repay them) may be sufficient to bring the system down over the coming weeks. No one knows.

    However, we do know that every day the system continues to function, the worse off everyone will be in the long run. Maybe a few intelligent young people are starting to realise that.

  9. Anthony 9

    I remember the massive protests that used to happen every time the fees went up, recently a number of Universities have chucked in a “student services fee” much higher than any fee rise and there has barely been a peep.

    I’d say student protesting has already been killed off before this round of VSM.

  10. I could understand the headline if the protest was somewhere other than Auckland university, but doesn’t the fact the a university with a voluntary students’ association can still have a student protest suggest that VSM (whether it will be bad overall or not) will not be the complete end of all student activism?

    • r0b 10.2

      When did Auckland Uni students last rally to protest on a local issue?  

      With student unions gutted nation wide, what national issue will motivate (and what nation wide organisation will organise) student protests in the future?

      • higherstandard 10.2.1

        “With student unions gutted nation wide, what national issue will motivate.. student protests in the future?”

        Something to do with piss ups and getting more of a free ride on the taxpayer I expect.

      • Nick C 10.2.2

        When did students of any university last rally to protest a local issue? The student union ‘leaders’ are mostly too busy collecting paychecks and drinking to care.

        • McFlock 10.2.2.1

          Bullshit.

          Don’t know about other associations, but ousa and opsa have been active on a variety of local issues such as refuse, council plans and university area issues.
          As for “paychecks” – OUSA pays less than mcdonalds and a few years ago OPSA execs were paid 0$$ for theior work.

          Of course, being a tory sociopath you probably don’t understand the concept of non-monetary rewards.

          • Nick C 10.2.2.1.1

            I’m sure AUSA are also involved in discussion/lobbying on local issues McFlock. That wasn’t the question, the question was about organising a protest.

            Have I heard of non monetary rewards? Well for a start, im not the one suggesting that the countries student association will all fall over the moment they no longer have multi-million dollar budgets from collecting copulsory levies.

            • McFlock 10.2.2.1.1.1

              Nah, you just said that exec members were in it for beer and paychecks. Dick. Or rather, given local issues, CoC.
              Don’t know about AK protests, but there have been a few down here in the last few years, some with hundreds of people. And I haven’t exactly been following them, either.

              But it’s amazing how much can get done simply by having competent staff able to work full time, working with various councils rather than against.

  11. big bruv 11

    The passing of the VSM bill will be a great day for all Kiwis, a day to celebrate the end of compulsion and a day to celebrate freedom.

    Anyway, if the ‘services’ offered by the compulsory student union are so wonderful I am sure they will still be around…..lol

    • McFlock 11.1

      Too true, BB – VSM is a great day for freedom, right up there with Nelson Mandela becoming President of South Africa, the independence of India or the Emancipation Proclamation. You must all be very humbled by the eternal fame and gratitude this achievement will bring you. /sarc

  12. What student came up with the chant “The whole world is watching”

    I mean , really?

  13. Cameron 13

    The Auckland protest wasn’t just about VSM.

    We were also angry about the Vice Chancellor trying to cut our lecturers’ working conditions. A large number of protesters were motivated primarly by this issue.

    This year the lecturers’ collective employment agreement has come up for renewal. The Uni management offered a 4% pay increase in return for the lectuers’ giving up basic rights such as guaranteed research and study leave etc.

    The lecturers’ have decided they would rather keep their conditions because without these things they cannot do their job properly. However, Stuart McCutcheon and the uni management refuse to budge.

    • r0b 13.1

      Apologies for representing the protest too narrowly.  Bravo on turning out in numbers, the tactics of your VC are disgraceful.

  14. The racist profiling used by the private cops on campus to trespass two leading Maori students, is an indictment of the warning given by Professor Margaret Mutu the security guards have senior leadership from a South African background who apparently think that the University of Auckland is a private area where premission must be sought to engage in political activity.

    The University of Auckland is on Ngati Whatua land. The University of Auckland is funded by the taxpayers, who in this capitalist society, are largely the working and lower middle classes. Workers and Maori have every right to be on University.
    Without our land and taxes, it would not exist

    Occupation Photostory, videos and background to the arrest-
    http://socialistaotearoa.blogspot.com/2011/09/detonation-student-struggle-rises-like.html

    • bigbruv 14.1

      Lol…so says a fully fledged pom.

      Thankfully nobody really cares what you have to say. The days of your type of union bullying are over, the days of the strong union movement are gone, VSM is the final nail in the coffin.

      It is something to celebrate.

      • Deadly_NZ 14.1.1

        Hey you trying to be funny????? I was born in England and proud of it. We don’t call you derogatory (look it up) names so keep the racisism to your self!

  15. Dan 15

    Ooooo. An RTF text editor? Anywho, Antony Robins, there’ll be few protestors out there who will be annoyed you’ve labelled this an ‘anit-VSM’ protest, when they were also speaking out in favour of the academics in the contract negotiations.

    Also, would that Guy Cohen be the same Guy Cohen who was also demanding the sacking of Victoria’s VC earlier this month? Is he an Auckland student or a Victoria student or what? 

  16. millsy 16

    There is no going back after tomorrow. I dont think Labour will repeal this bill if/when it gets back into office.

    I hope the student associations suck it in and start working out how they can preserve the vital assets that they have control of before the likes of ACT On Campus start flogging them off to private enterprise. And thats what its about really. ACT and National resent the provision of public services and assetts for common good purposes and want to sell them off and have them make a profit. Nothing to do with ‘choice’ and ‘freedom’.

    BTW: I agree with the poster’s suggestion that student unions brand themselves as local governments, or as I would call them, student councils. It would probably solve a whole lot of problems.

    • aerobubble 16.1

      Students have it too easy, disfunctional national government requires that
      the next generation of leaders are not coddled, that find it harder at university
      to socialize. Too many rightwing politicians lived off student welfare “Bennett
      visionaries” who took the leftwing loan to single mums and ran with it.
      Maybe if the left had not be so successful in winning at uni and so failing
      in standing up to MSM neo-liberalism….

      Even the debate is distorted, I heard Waikato decided to reimplement compulsory
      student unionism, now ACT want to lock out the choice of students to levy
      the whole student body. How is that framed as ACT defending choice?

  17. It’s interesting that Tertiary Education Minister, Steven Joyce, told protrestors to “pull their heads in”, and that “students had 75 per cent of the tuition subsidised on average and benefited from interest-free student loans”.

    He forgot to add another little gem of information: http://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/its-official-political-dissent-discouraged-in-nz/

  18. Why did this student protest group allow Omar Hamed to attend? and is his alleged treatment of woman (from various feminist groups) a concern?

    • McFlock 18.1

      No idea, I’m not a JAFA.
      Yes. As would be any attempt to use allegations of sexual assault as a distraction from the idiocy that is VSM. You suddenly aligning yourself with feminists from across the political spectrum, particularly the political left, is most interesting.

  19. McFlock

    Ive been a regular poster (in the comments section) over at the hand mirror. So its not all of a sudden, there are serious concerns over there.

    • McFlock 19.1

      You’ve been a regular commenter here, too – it doesn’t make you left wing.
      I’m just observing that you’ve cut&paste the same comment into at least two threads here with no point to make.

      • lprent 19.1.1

        Which is a dangerous practice – since it is one of my favorite spoor signatures of the stupid troll.. Good thing I haven’t seen it whilst moderating..

      • Brett Dale 19.1.2

        McFlock I posted this at open mike and here, and it doesnt seem anyone here want to address the concerns shown at the hand mirror.

        • McFlock 19.1.2.1

          Most probably because I, for one, have been reading the discussion over at THM. The internet is a wonderful thing.
           
          Open mike – yeah, I can see that. But given your track record, my impression of you posting it in this thread was that it was a derail attempt rather than a genuine inquiry. Perhaps if you had actually offered something pertinent. Perhaps you should ask AUSA directly – I’m sure they have a FB forum or something.  I can’t speak for AUSA or Unite. I can say that yes, the behaviour described is a concern. 
           
          What’s your point? did you want to open a discussion about community-based moderation of behaviour, or whether there is a point at which, even without criminal charges, ostracism is preferable to attempts at education and mediation? These are valid issues, and worthy of open mike, but I don’t really see their relevance to this thread, which is more about the wider issue of students’ associations being fucked by national (when they said they wouldn’t, and by at least one National MP who is on record as saying he opposes it ).
           

          • Brett Dale 19.1.2.1.1

            I had first did my post here at the standard over on the student protest thread, since that thread seem old, I posted in the open mike, sorry that you have a problem with that.

            What I want Mike is for woman to be keep away from the behavior that Omar Hamed is alleged to have done, just as Im sure the posters here wouldn’t want their wife’s and girlfriends in the same room with him.

            • McFlock 19.1.2.1.1.1

              So a feminist like you uses the passive voice like that? Please.
              Your concern has been duly noted. And how would the two questions you originally asked help manly-men keep “their” women away from him?

    • just saying 19.2

      Regular commenter? What do you call regular Brett?

      The matter you raise, which has absolutely nothing to do with the substance of this thread, regards an issue which concerns me very much. I can’t help thinking that if you were genuinely concerned about it, you wouldn’t be using it to fire a cheap shot at the left in general.

      Btw can you imagine a right-wing group which would address this kind of issue publicly, and honestly as is happening here? The Natiional Party perhaps…?

      • Brett Dale 19.2.1

        just saying:

        Your right, a right wing group wouldnt address the issue, they would just sweep it under the
        carpet and brush it off, and that is wrong, its like the people who clap like trained circus seals at a charlie sheen roast, when they made fun of his abuse of hookers, (im sure she didnt find it funny)

        Famous people, political people get away with so much, and it seems some people will turn a blind eye to things, if the person doing the abusing, is part of a group that they are involved in, so hats off to the hand mirror for doing the post they did.

  20. just saying

    I have done posts over the years on various forums and at my blog about find the former Christian heritage leader, and the hypocrites who supported him, I have done posts about how sickening it is that we all follow and support charlie sheen despite his abuse of woman, i have done posts on tony veitch, I have done posts on law and order and i have been freakin consistent on it. I have done posts on that animal abuser Michael Vick.

    Doesn’t matter if you are left or right, funny or not, can score a try during the world cup, or can score a touchdown, violence against woman is wrong and to make any excuse because the person who is doing it, is someone you like or admire is wrong.

  21. Anon 21

    Just for the record I’d like to say that I am a young woman and I am not afraid of Omar, not have I ever been.
    Can’t publish my name unfortunately as I’m actually afraid of the reactions I’m likely to get from some of the lynchmobbers. Ironic.

  22. If you think this was the last student protest, you are mistaken. Students are not only planning more direct action, but the movement is growing and will soon start spilling into the streets. The VSM bill was only part of what students were protesting against on the 26th. WATU stands opposed to the financial imperatives that are decimating our education system, numbing the senses of our masters and destroying the futures of our youth. We do not want the end to a single parliamentary act, we want an end to the systemic violence that legitimates a racist, sexist, elitist system of exclusion. We want to halt a production line of ideas that allows 220,000 children to live in poverty in our country. We want to stop the inter-generational theft that lines the pockets a small, detached elite who tell us to ‘keep our heads down’. We demand an end the childish ego politics of nothingness that endlessly defers to an abstraction that does not work. We are the University, and we will no longer allow inequality to be produced in our name, we will no longer listen to the banal rhetoric of ‘economic reality’.

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