OUSA strikes hypocrisy mother lode
If you're a student politician in a compulsory association, one of the first political skills you need to master is the ability to take highly hypocritical stances with a straight face.
This means you need to be able to:
- simultaneously oppose and support fee increases
- complain about the student loan scheme while deriving half of your income from it
- and get all self righteous about freedom, choice and diversity while supporting compulsory membership
The Otago University Students Association (OUSA) is working itself into a lather about a university-drafted code of conduct. All of a sudden OUSA is concerned about students' rights and is claiming the proposed code falls outside the provisions of the Bill of Rights Act.
OUSA have hired constitutional lawyer Mai Chen to provide legal advice. I nearly choked on my cornflakes this morning when I heard Ms Chen on Morning Report saying,
"Just because you're a student at Otago University you don't relinquish your general rights as a human being which all human beings have under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act - the freedom of movement, freedom of association, the freedom to express oneself, the freedom from double jeopardy."
What a relief - a leading constitutional lawyer has confirmed what student choice has being saying for years: just because you're a student you don't give up your right to freedom of association.
OUSA, an organisation with a membership regime which directly violates freedom of association, must be extremely embarrased that their lawyer even raised the freedom of association issue. Now they're going to have to pay her to go back through the filing cabinets and find the late 1990s legal opinion produced by Chen and Palmer and paid for by NZUSA which claimed compulsory membership doesn't violate freedom of association.
But we can thank Ms Chen for restating student choice's position to the nation's media.