Sunday, March 25, 2007

Self-delusion continues at NZUSA

You've probably seen one of those old cartoons about the crazy guy who thinks he's Napoleon. Well in Wellington there's a group which thinks it's the representative body for all New Zealand's tertiary students.

The 9 March edition of The New Zealand Education Review carried a story about how NZUSA has gained two new member associations since the demise of the Aotearoa Tertiary Students Association (ATSA). ATSA collapsed and was liquidated following a series of financial disasters. The article said some former ATSA members had not wanted to commit to membership of NZUSA because of questions about their financial liability for ATSA's debts.

NZUSA currently has 16 members. The article said the organisation was in the process of "making other changes to ensure it was addressing all students' needs." NZUSA co-president Joey Randall said the point of national representation " is about ensuring all students have a voice nationally".

So let's see, NZUSA claims to be the "voice" of all students yet it's an organisation:
- which individual students cannot join on an individual basis
- has leaders who are not elected on the basis of 'one member, one vote'
- is based on compulsory membership; students are forced to belong to member associations and through this are forced to pay the costs of NZUSA
- supports policies and takes positions which many individual students oppose
- students can't disassociate themselves from

If NZUSA wants to have any legitimacy it should allow students the freedom to join on an individual basis. Of course this would mean selling the benefits of the organisation. It's much easier to tap into the money provided by compulsory membership.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 23, 2007

Geoff misses the boat again

In his second column on the role and function of Vuwsa, president Geoff Hayward attempts to explain the 'representation' provided by the association.

Unfortunately all we get is a description of the various meetings Vuwsa holds. Geoff doesn't attempt to examine the actual nature of representation and doesn't question the legitimacy of the representation Vuwsa claims to provide.

Representation is a simple concept. It's where a person or group gives their permission to another person or group to speak on their behalf. The key word here is permission. Somebody can't speak on your behalf unless you have authorised them to do so.

As Vuwsa membership is compulsory, no individual student has given their permission to Vuwsa to speak on their behalf. For this reason Vuwsa, and all other compulsory associations, are fundamentally illegitimate as representative organisations.

Perhaps this explains why Geoff prefers to talk about meetings. It's a lot safer than asking whether Vuwsa actually has any mandate to claim to legitimately represent its 18,000 compulsory members.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 16, 2007

Geoff - look at a VUW fees invoice....

In his latest Salient column, Vuwsa president Geoff Hayward attempts to explain 'What Vuwsa is and isn't'. Among other things, Geoff claims Vuwsa is "not responsible for the level of fees that students have to pay".

Trouble is that's only partially true. Vuwsa is not responsible for the level of tuition fees students pay but Vuwsa is totally responsible for the level of student association fees which students have to pay. In fact last year Vuwsa student politicians were successful in achieving an increase in the level of the compulsory Vuwsa student association levy.

Perhaps in his next column Geoff could explain why Vuwsa's student politicians think increases in tutition fees are bad but increases in student association fees are acceptable.