VSM protest at Otago

Written By: - Date published: 2:26 pm, August 5th, 2011 - 89 comments
Categories: activism, education - Tags: , ,

About 600 Otago students turned out this morning (with Dunedin North MP Pete Hodgson) to meet John Key in protest to the VSM bill. Good to see a strong show of support for student unions! There’s a press release about the protest here, and a Facebook page here. I couldn’t be there when Key arrived, but above is shot of the early crowd warming up their chants in anticipation.  Anyone who was there want to tell us about it in comments?

89 comments on “VSM protest at Otago”

  1. higherstandard 1

    Two questions.
    1. Why are the protesting to Key when this is a Private Members Bill ?
    2. What’s the current student population of Otago Uni and tech ?

    • Carol 1.1

      If National opposed the Bill it would be dead in the water. It’s only enabled with Nat support.

    • Blue 1.2

      1. God knows, maybe they missed the target.

      2. Around 21,000 is the total I recall. The 600 are obviously the ones who want to ‘opt in’, fair enough, surprising they don’t want to let their students colleagues have a choice.

      • McFlock 1.2.1

        Um – the VSM referendum at otago had something like 80% of students (not voters, students) wanting universal membership. If this ration has changed, ACT could try to get 10% of students to sign a petition for another referendum on the issue, rather than choosing to ignore the democratic wishes of students.

        • higherstandard 1.2.1.1

          What’s everyone fretting about if 80% of them want to belong to the student union then surely the student union will still have a substantial income without enforcing membership

          • McFlock 1.2.1.1.1

            Because a large chunk of students – many of whom are poor – would see no reason to pay (or not be able to afford to pay) a membership levy when they can get the bulk of association services and benefits for free, anyway. You can’t limit course better grades to members only, just because the class rep brought up key faults in assessment.

            • infused 1.2.1.1.1.1

              What a load of shit. If they want it, pay up.

              • Colonial Viper

                Remember that Key and his generation got their university education for ~free.

                The 45 plus crowd have stolen from future generations of NZers to line their own retirement assets.

                Now they want US to pay while they rape in the benefits of the social services they used to get where they are.

              • McFlock

                infused – what part of “not being able to limit services to members only” didn’t you understand?

                • Gus

                  Yeah what a load of shit. Give them choice so they can buy fresh fruit and vegetables !!!

                  • McFlock

                    lol – actually, my local association used to organise a cheap fruit and vege stall weekly, and had a foodbank.
                    Good luck for keeping that under VSM – much easier just to get them pissed and put on gigs. No money in the support services.

        • Swampy 1.2.1.2

          You mean 80% of those who voted, don’t you. What percentage of the entire student population of Otago was that.

          • McFlock 1.2.1.2.1

            Ah, true – my memory has faded afterr 11 years.
            So the total vote at otago  was 7100, 78% of that in favour of studetns’ association, about 15000 efts, so roughly 40% of students actively in favour, 10% actively against, and 50% were just happy to be members and use association services.
             

    • Shonelle 1.3

      Even thought it is an Act Party members bill we protested to John Key because National are supporting the bill -From what I see, the only was to stop this bill going through is to let National know that students do not want this bill.

      Very proud to be a member of the OUSA Exec and an Otago student yesterday 🙂

      • Gus 1.3.1

        So because you are proud everyone should be a member without choice. Idiot.

        • McFlock 1.3.1.1

          Gus, try and look up the word “democracy” sometime. Maybe if you actually knew what it meant you wouldn’t hate it so much.

  2. Shane Gallagher 2

    It was great – there were more like 600 students there when John Key was there.

    John Key and Michael Woodhouse (local Nat MP) walked very quickly to their cars as they were roundly and very loudly booed when leaving the library. Key had promised the staff inside that he would talk to the student protesters on the way out…

    I saw David Skegg (just retired Otago VC) walking with the green Debt Monster and chatting about the progress of the VSM bill in parliament.

    I was talking to Aaron Hawkins who is trying to save Radio One from being sold by OUSA and he commented on the lack of knowledge in the OUSA exec on how to actually organise and run a protest – there have been generations of OUSA execs who have not done anything like this. So they did fairly well all round.

    The crowd was addressed by Alex Kruize (Green Party list candidate) and I believe Pete Hodgson – not sure who else as I missed the very first part.

    • r0b 2.1

      Thanks Shane, I’ve updated the number estimate in the post (I was there about an hour before Key!).

    • Maria 2.2

      I didn’t go to the protest but that doesn’t mean I am for VSM. If people feel so strongly against it let them opt out. If you have to choose to opt in, most people will be too lazy and OUSA will be s_hit. I know ill probably be too lazy to opt in.

  3. queenstfarmer 3

    200 Otago students who apparently don’t respect the individual liberties of their other students…

    • McFlock 3.1

      Not at all – they’re perfectly entitled to go to another university, adjust their study schedule, or even object to membership.
       
      If I want to buy a computer on HP, the store makes me associate with GE money or someone similar. I am free to adjust my payment programme or go to another store. Oh noes! I is being oppressd!

      • queenstfarmer 3.1.1

        So you’d be alright if they compulsorily make you join Act on Campus? Hey, if you don’t like it, just go to another university!

        If I want to buy a computer on HP, the store makes me associate with GE money or someone similar

        What are you talking about? I bought a computer 3 months ago, paid cash. No-one made me “associate with GE” (whatever that means, but it clearly doesn’t mean being forced to join a society with political views you might object to).

        • McFlock 3.1.1.1

          Nah mate – if membership was that onerous, I’d either study at another uni, study extramurally, or conscientiosly object to membership. Or get 10% of my fellow students to sign a form so we can have another referendum on the issue.

          Yep, you paid cash for a computer (nice to have the disposable readies, I guess).  But most places arrange finance through a third party like GE money (and thereby indirectly associating with / financing the US Defense industry).  if you were less cash-rich, you might have gone to some effort to change your lifestyle in order to pay cash, just to avoid being on GE Money’s books. Or gone to another store. Or put it on lay-by.
           
          Similarly, nobody is forcing someone to study  fulltime on campus (some students’ associations don’t require membership for extramural study or part  time students), or at that university – just like nobody is forcing you to buy a computer on HP.  People claiming “forced membership” are idiots.

          • queenstfarmer 3.1.1.1.1

            Well it sounds like you’d have no worries about being forced to join Act on Campus. Who knew? Are there any organisations you would mind being enrolled in by default?

            • McFlock 3.1.1.1.1.1

              See, if my local uni had said I had to join AoC, I’d have gone to another university. 
               
               
              Actually, the state of things today, I probably should have gone to polytech or a PTE and become a plumber, but that’s another matter.

              • queenstfarmer

                See, if my local uni had said I had to join AoC, I’d have gone to another university

                Why would you go to another university? Would you rather do that than be forced to join an organisation you didn’t agree with?

                • Colonial Viper

                  You Righties love to break down civic and collective institutions in society. Makes the job of the right to rule easier.

                • McFlock

                  um – I’m not being “forced” if I don’t have to join. I would rather go to another university than associate with ACToids. Because I CAN go to another university, and indeed I don’t have to go to university at all, I’m not forced to join AoC (Waikato). And if I really wanted to go to Waikato uni but not join AoC, I could object to membership, change my study load so joining is not part of enrollment criteria, or indeed use association facilities to compaing against universal membership at Waikato.

                  Are you “forced” to go into Countdown because their generic brand soda is on special? No – if you don’t like going to Countdown, that’s just a cost of getting that soda. If you really don’t want to go to Countdown, you go to another store and get a soda there – it might not be exactly the same as the Countdown soda, but it’s still soda. “Force” is putting a gun to your head and saying “Join AUSA”. The current universal membership is just a cost of doing business. Are you saying that you have liked and wanted to associate with every single person you’ve dealt with in a professional capacity? If not, call Heather Roy because by your measure you were “forced” to associate with them.
                   
                  In reality, it was part of the job and a cost of doing business.

                  • queenstfarmer

                    And if I really wanted to go to Waikato uni but not join AoC, I could object to membership, change my study load so joining is not part of enrollment criteria, or indeed use association facilities to compaing against universal membership at Waikato.

                    Excellent, there’s the answer then. To balance out the far-left politics of compulsory student associations that students are “forced” to join, students should also be “forced” to join Act on Campus.

                    Don’t like either one? No problem. Like you said, you can simply object, rearrange your study load, campaign against it, etc. What a great solution.

                    • McFlock

                      Yep.

                      First order of the day: motions to change the AoC constitution to support 100% taxpayer funding of education, endorse the Labour party in the upcoming election, and lobby the university to lower its carbon footprint and research ways to reverse anthropogenic climate change.

                      And change its name to “The Roger Douglas is a Fossilised Fuckwit Club” (or whatever that FB post was).

          • The Voice of Reason 3.1.1.1.2

            “(nice to have the disposable readies, I guess)”
             
            I must say I raised an eyebrow when I read that Queenie paid in cash. The first thing that popped into my mind was drug dealer and I guess they do have the kind of entrepreneurial zest and low tax approach to business that would make them ideal Actoids. But, nah, more like meant paid it on EFTPOS, rather than the credit card.

            • queenstfarmer 3.1.1.1.2.1

              Yes – paid in cash, but not the folding variety.

              BTW I’m only using AoC as an example. I am not, nor ever have been, a member of that organisation… Nor would I wish to be.

              BTW#2 it was an $1100 Acer from Warehouse Stationery, which Dick Smith had for $1000, so I got WHS to “beat it by 5%”, so got it for $950. Great laptop for <$1k.

              • The Voice of Reason

                Nice work, I did something similar for my one, just walked back and forth between 3 competitors in the same area quoting each other’s best price till I got a deal I was happy with. Monday morning is a great time to shop btw, the store managers will do just about anything to get the till ringing at the start of the week.

      • NickC 3.1.2

        Yes that is the decision of a private business. If a law was passed which said: ‘Anyone who buys a computer on HP must borrow from GE Money’, that would be wrong and that is a better analogy to the status quo with compulsory student membership.

        It would be even worse if GE Money then went on to use the interest from that purchase to run a political campaign which you strongly disagreed with.

        • McFlock 3.1.2.1

          But your analogy doesn’t stack up – closer would be a law that says “anyone who wants to by a computer using HP from a particular computer store (one of over half a dozen in the area) must do so via GE Money.”

          And I know a few people who try to limit their exposure to multinational corporations, particularly those that are part of the US military-industrial complex.

          • Nick C 3.1.2.1.1

            Ok for the sake of argument lets accept your analogy (even though there aren’t several universities in my area). Wouldn’t it still be wrong for the govenrment to pass that law? Especially when all the other stores in the area are also subject to the same law, just in respect of a different money lender.

            • McFlock 3.1.2.1.1.1

              Not if:
              there are a variety of stores (and therefore financiers) available;
              there is a capability that if you have significant religious or ethical grounds to object then you can;
              the moneylender had to behave in a democratic manner in the interests and according to the directions of its customers;
              the benefits of borrowing money from that credit company could not be restricted to only the customers of that company; and 
              there were significant public benefits to both the borrowers and the wider community of universal membership.

              Similar to the concept that vehicle drivers should have compulsory third-party insurance cover.

              • Nick C

                “there are a variety of stores (and therefore financiers) available”

                Well yeah if you want to move between cities. Thats hardly a reasonable obligation to place on students who merely want to be able to access their right to not be forced to associate with a political group

                And its not like I can choose which SA I join, each Uni only has 1. As far as im aware none of them support VSM. So if I want to study in NZ I have to fund an organisation which directly lobbies against my views

                “the moneylender had to behave in a democratic manner in the interests and according to the directions of its customers”

                There is no legal requirement for student associations to be democratic. They normally are but frequently behave undemocratically when it suits them: http://www.salient.org.nz/news/vuwsa-at-war-with-itself-confusion-reigns

                “there is a capability that if you have significant religious or ethical grounds to object then you can opt out”

                Sound like a Tui ad. See http://mydeology.co.nz/2011/07/how-to-opt-out-of-ousa-or-not/

                • McFlock

                  Funny – my local uni basically lives off students who travelled to it. AFAIK, the student’s choice is usually between “move to city A or move to city B”.
                  Students’ associations are incorporated societies (or charities or whatever it is now). They actually are required to conform to some basic democratic rules.
                   
                  And I believe Auckland is currently voluntary membership, if the issue is THAT much of an problem for you. As for the other unis,, it kind of proves my point – students had to participate in a referendum to establish the status quo. ACT can’t stand the democratic decision that students made.
                   
                  And what about MY right as a student to not associate with or fund self-absorbed freeloading tory pricks?
                   
                  Oh yeah – and mydeology is full of shit.

                  • Which part in particular?

                    By the way, thanks for reading.

                    • McFlock

                      Lol – any attention is good attention, huh? Typical sleazy tory.
                      The last one that turned up on my FB feed was the one where you announced you’d contribute nothing to OUSA, but bitch about it in your blog.
                      Situation normal, then.

                  • Swampy

                    The rules in the incorporated societies act are pitiful compared with basics like our electoral laws for national elections.

        • KJT 3.1.2.2

          How about my freedom to carry out my private business without a credit rating agency knowing almost every detail of it.
          Or my freedom to use the internet without Government surveillance.

          NACT is very selective of the freedoms they allow.

          When 80% of students vote to retain a compulsory student union. Then the wishes of the majority should be respected.

          ACT’s opposition to student unions is simply because a successful collective is a good argument against their political views.

    • mik e 3.2

      Qstf THEY have had a very strong community sort of like a mini country in which lots of skills are learned ,its part of the character of Otago university it allows them to use a lot of recreational facilities that builds a much more rounded student. You don’t see the rich kids turning down cheap accommodation and ski passes at a 1/4 retail price. there are endless benefits. But ACT only see $ and so cold freedumb!

      • fermionic_interference 3.2.1

        The easiest point to make is the difference in facilities between Auckland Uni and Otago Uni.
        Akl being VSM and Otago not.
        The cost of the gym services in Akl are more then the total cost of membership of OUSA and that’s just crazy ($250 Akl gym vs ~$80-90 per semester for OUSA) please correct me if I’m wrong I’m trying to remember my OUSA fees from 2 years ago).
        Also the services package at Akl is heading majorly down hill and is losing funding per member each year whilst the cost charged through by Akl uni admin increases for no services in comparison to that available through both OUSA and Otago Uni admin.

        Edit: also note that Akl Uni Admin fees for services were $300+ per semester last year.

  4. lovinthatchangefeeling 4

    So which one of those “hundreds” of protesters was the “charming” Logan Somers-Edgar, the President of the (compulsory) OUSA, and future Labour Party parliamentarian?

    • McFlock 4.1

      To be fair, every word he said was true, if abrasive to your delicate sensibilities.

      • lovinthatchangefeeling 4.1.1

        Yeah that’s probably him you can see with the “Putting the N in cuts” placard.

        Logan Somers-Edgar: the best advertisement for VSM that Heather Roy could have!

    • Blue 4.2

      Last time I heard him speak he obsessed about ‘class’, ironically he has none. Why do we give these children air time?

      • queenstfarmer 4.2.1

        Well fortunately it will all be academic soon. The bill will pass and that will be that (at least until the next Labour Govt).

          • Pete George 4.2.1.1.1

            You could be right:

            The afternoon session of the NZUSA confrence this weekend featured a panel of politicians, and thier views on student debt and student issues.

            Doesn’t look like they’ve improved basic literary skills yet.

            However, Hutchison dropped the ball a little bit. After being asked “What did Crosby/Textor tell you to tell us” by VUWSA exec member Sonny Thomas, he was put into a bit of a fluster.

            Is that a typical sort of NZUSA conference question? It’s more like a standard Labourite blog question. But when the author describes himself…

            Conrad is a very grumpy boy. When he was little he had a curl in the middle of his forehead. When he was good, he was moderately good, but when he was mean he was HORRID. He likes guns, bombs and shooting doves. He can often be found reading books about Mussolini and tank warfare. His greatest dream is to invent an eighteen foot high mechanical spider, which has an antimatter lazer attached to its back.

            …I guess you can’t expect much. Opposition researchers of the future will have a field day with Google or whatever has taken it’s place.

            • McFlock 4.2.1.1.1.1

              Well, it’s a student magazine. Stuff does not have that excuse for its typos and poor sentence structure.

      • Colonial Viper 4.2.2

        Why do we give these children air time?

        Never knew how Don Brash gets it to tell you the truth.

  5. chris73 5

    I still find it interesting that all these protests are because some don’t want to give students the choice of whether to join the student union

    • McFlock 5.1

      Same old tory lies.
      Students have the choice, and made it via elections.
      ACT don’t like democracy, so they’re taking that choice away.

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1

        Tories love it when they can disorganise and atomise the community

        It means their own well organised political, business, profiteering forces can encroach without any collective resistance.

      • chris73 5.1.2

        So if students have already chosen and they want to be in a union why the big deal about making it voluntary?

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.2.1

          Duh…because making it voluntary overturns a democratic decision that the students have already made to organise themselves.

  6. McFlock 6

    Answered here. Up the top.

  7. Sookie 7

    That’s quite a good turn out for the apathetic youth of Otago these days. In my day though, there would have been 4000 there 🙂 Nobody on the staff at the University wants VSM because guess who will end up paying for clubs and societies and magazines and concerts and expensive buildings? The University considers the fun and social side of studying as good marketing and also crowd control (organised events and clubs and market days are much better than letting the little treasures run riot on Castle St), so they can’t just get rid of all of it. VSM is a big pile of steaming shit from right wing zealots who hate socialist/greenie students turning into politicans. It’s got sod all to do with ‘choice’.

  8. Some good footage of the protest on Ch9 now available online: http://www.ch9.co.nz/content/ousa-protest

    • “Late Wednesday night, Act and National put aside the proper progress of legislation to fast-track the passing of anti-student legislation before the election. ”

      http://www.davidclark.org.nz/2011/08/student-choice-and-student-voice

      Are you aware how long Labour have been delaying not just the VSM bill but all private members bills? How can you call that “the proper progress of legislation”?

      • Hi Pete, I am not sure whether you are deliberately quoting me out of context or not.

        I have suggested it was unusual, not illegal. I think it’s important to highlight the fact that National took this unusual step because their clear priority is to gut students associations. Previously, it looked like they were sitting on the fence, happy to see Act’s bill fail.

        Now, by prioritising business in this way, they’ve shown that they (like Act) think students should be told how to run their affairs.

        Unlike Act and National, I believe students are quite capable of organising their own affairs and they should choose how they do it. I trust students to run their own organisations and make their own decisions.

        An ideological push from a ‘we know best’ Act-National coalition is now being forced on the student community.

        • higherstandard 8.1.1.1

          “Unlike Act and National, I believe students are quite capable of organising their own affairs and they should choose how they do it. I trust students to run their own organisations and make their own decisions.”

          So why do they have to have enforced membership ?

          • David Clark 8.1.1.1.1

            hs I suspect you know the answer to that question.

            If 10% of students oppose the existing system, they can get together and change it. Other University students associations further north have done it (and regretted it too).

            As far as I’m aware, no students’ association, and no university has asked for this change. It is an Act-driven ideological solution, in search of a problem to fix. (But students say the problem doesn’t exist.)

            Why do these right wing politicians want to interfere in students’ lives?

            • Pete George 8.1.1.1.1.1

              Why to these right wing politicians want to interfere in students’ lives?

              They aren’t the ones trying to make it compulsory. Compulsion is interfering with freedom to choose.

              • KJT

                80% of students voted to have compulsory membership.

                THEY HAVE ALREADY CHOSEN.

                A many times greater percentage than voted for ACT.

                Students are still free to opt out.

                This shows how much respect NACT really have for democratic process!

                Overturning with legislation, majority democratic decisions of the people concerned.

                Like the deliberate gutting of Unions in the 80’s.
                This has nothing to do with freedom and everything to do with removing social collectives that oppose the theft of New Zealand.

                • 80% of students?

                  Or 80% of students that voted? If so what percent of students voted?

                  • KJT

                    Can we have the choice to opt out of the direction NACT is taking us. After all only half of those that voted even voted for them.

                    • Different issue (you can opt out of the country if you like), and avoiding the question.

                    • Boris Clarksky

                      [I see you’ve been banned under another name. Good bye then. r0b]

                    • KJT

                      Boris.
                      I have good reasons to believe that I have paid far more tax in my lifetime than most of the right wingers. Having been in the top tax bracket since I was 19.

                      Shouldn’t I then have more say than rich bludgers who hide in trusts, capital gains, property and tax havens to avoid tax. Or the half of NZ’s wealthiest people who do not pay tax.

                      I am fine in paying my fair share to ensure that any children of a low income family, as mine was, have the same opportunities as I did. Those that cannot work due to lack of opportunity, age or illness are looked after. I do not want NZ to become a country of extremes, like the USA.

                      I owe a lot of where I am to previous NZ taxpayers, trade unionists and leftish Governments. Same as most of the selfish who want to dismantle the system that they benefited from.

                  • McFlock

                    Well, to combine both threads, them that votes gets to demonstrate their support one way or another.

                  • Rick Rowling

                    0% of next year’s freshmen have voted for compulsory membership for themselves & their contemporaries. They have NOT already chosen, and should have the right to do so.

                    • McFlock

                      Unless the association goes under, in which case they will never have the choice.
                       
                      You want to tweak the opt-out process, fine – but this sinks the boat because a tiny number people say they don’t want to go sailing.

            • higherstandard 8.1.1.1.1.2

              Hi David, I’m pretty sure the Nats aren’t as ideologically driven to get rid of the students associations as Labour are ideologically driven to keep them.

              Frankly I don’t care one way or another as as my kids aren’t quite at university yet, but I must admit to being disgusted at some of the antics of a minority of student associations in recent years.

        • Pete George 8.1.1.2

          How can that be out of context? You say “put aside the proper progress of legislation” – have you read John Armstrong’s column in the ODT (and online on The Herald) yet? What Labour have been doing is about as far from proper progress as you could get.

          It is mind boggling how much irony there is in your comment.

          Students should choose?
          Who is being ideological?

          • The Voice of Reason 8.1.1.2.1

            Armstrong’s attack on Labour contains nothing about the merits of student membership one way or the other. It’s just the ramblings of a tetchy old man confused by an opposition doing its job and opposing his heroes.

            • Pete George 8.1.1.2.1.1

              It wasn’t supposed to be about the merits of voluntary student membership. It was about:
              – how bad behaviour often is in parliament and how unbecoming it is of supposed representatives of the people
              – how Labour and Greens have effectively blocked nearly all Labour and Greens private members legislation from going through parliament this year.

              It’s an own goal done very poorly.

          • KJT 8.1.1.2.2

            Have not seen you complaining about Nationals abuse of urgency and the select committee process, to stuff NZ as much as they can, in case they lose the election.

  9. infused 9

    Yet no one cares.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Keep pretending they don’t.

      Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Iceland, Greece show very clearly that it is time for governments to remember to be afraid of their people.

      Otherwise the top 0.1% will very quickly sell every one else off to the highest bidder.

      The Right Wing have long realised that the fastest way to make big money is not to build something up. But to break something down and hawk it off to foreigners.

  10. millsy 11

    Of course, there is a way round this in which the left get the student amemities and the right get their precious freedom of association (of course that stops when a worker wants to join a union).

    1) Student associations vest all their assets and services in a ‘Student Council’ which is part of the university/poly.
    2) Unis/polys charge an ‘anemities fee’ as apposed to a SU membership fee which goes to the student council, which has 100% control of all assets.
    3) student council members are elected by all those enrolled at the university. Student Associations, ACT on Campus, Young Labour, Greens etc can all vie for a seat on the council. They then have complete control of the amenites that the students use.

    A clean comprimise.

    • McFlock 11.1

      Trouble being that any student with a dodgy lecturer now goes to an advocacy service that is completely dependent on the university’s goodwill. A company doctor, if you will.

  11. Free Willy 12

    The problem with VSM is that If it goes through, OUSA will lose the power to fund nearly all of its services. Some of these services are essential, and the University will be obliged to take over them and fund them through levies which get charged to the students.

    Now, the University is a money making machine (anyone who argues this is very misinformed/deluded) and they are not going to provide these services cheap. At the end of the day, it just means students will still have to pay a levy, except it will go to the University (controlled by old grey-haired BMW drivers) instead of OUSA (run by students). Students will pay more for these services, no doubt they will be poorly run (try booking an appointment at University-run Student health- my god!) and students will no longer have any say in the matter.

    VSM is a terrible idea. I understand the ideology behind it and don’t necessarily disagree with it, but the bill they have produced doesn’t actually work. Explain to me how the above is an example of liberty and the freedom of choice? Your freedom of choice will be eliminated.

    Leave Students alone, ACT. Muppets.

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