Anatomy of a compulsion supporter: Nick Kelly
Earlier on we talked about the types of people who support compulsory membership because they derive benefits from the existing system. One category of people we identified was “student politicians using associations to promote their worldview”.
Since his loss in the Vuwsa presidential election, Nick Kelly has exemplified this category of person. His written comments since his loss have further eroded any pretence of legitimacy which compulsory associations might still attempt to make.
Nick’s comments on his loss revealed his view of his role. Compulsory associations and compulsory presidents claim to represent all students. This is an impossible task but Nick was content to play along with this charade up until the point he lost. In his first president’s column after his defeat Nick revealed that he saw his role not as attempting to represent all students but rather as initiating some sort of student revolution. When voters turfed him out he reverted to Marxist analysis and interpreted his defeat as a conspiracy by the forces of capitalist reactionaries represented, oddly, by a combination of Young Labour, National and Act.
So ultimately Vuwsa for Nick Kelly was never some sort of diverse patchwork of student interests but instead it was a vehicle to be driven towards a socialist utopia. When voters said they didn’t want to come along for the ride, Nick spat the dummy.
Now he’d have you believe that Vuwsa in 2007 won’t represent all students because it’s been captured by Helen-hugging Young Labourites. And on this point he’s correct. A Labour friendly Vuwsa in 2007 will not be representative of all students. But then neither was an embryonic revolutionary Vuwsa in 2006. And nor by the same token would a raving pro-capitalist Vuwsa at some point in the future be representative of all Vic students.
Tertiary students have diverse political views and it’s impossible for one organisation to simultaneously represent the views of all students. If a compulsory association says ‘A’ it’s misrepresenting all the students who believe ‘B’.
The only way to achieve accurate representation is to make membership optional and allow individual students to join or not join an association based on whether or not the organisation reflects their views, values and interests.
PS Nick's latest column lays into Salient but the free speech champions at Salient have neglected to post it on their site. You can find it here though.