Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Shooting yourself in the foot Vuwsa-style

Some of the people doing the most to increase support for voluntary membership at Victoria University are Vuwsa executive members and supporters of compulsory membership.

First we had Kerry Tankard’s destruction of a voluntary membership petition. Then a Vuwsa exec member went on what Salient described as “an alcohol –fuelled rampage around the Vuwsa office and stairwell with a permanent marker”. Now a Vuwsa executive member has been sprung using association phone lines to rack up $4000 worth of phone calls to a psychic hotline.

This sort of stuff is not new. Compulsory associations have always attracted people who want to force their views on others or use the organisations to play out their own power trips or personal issues.

Every time an association burns an effigy, blows money on some crazy scheme or generally acts like morons, support for voluntary membership increases. Since the late 1990s some student politicians have come to understand this and have become very risk averse and conservative. But there are always a few who think the power and proximity to large amounts of money entitles them to act like jerks.

Behaviour like this further devalues Vuwsa’s reputation and causes more and more students to ask why on earth they’re forced to fund and join the association. “Bring on vsm” will only be heard more often.

The only way to rescue Vuwsa is to remove its guaranteed funding. Vuwsa needs to demonstrate it can provide value to potential members; that means membership has to be voluntary.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Law society to become voluntary

Congrats to The Law Society, who are on the verge of becoming a voluntary organisation. David Farrar has written a very good post on the topic and how it relates to VSM. Have a read as he outlines the similarities more articulately than I could.

I have heard many times the argument "the Law Society is compulsory so why can't Student Associations stay that way too?" Now they can no longer use that, a far better question would be "why does every other sector in society have voluntary membership EXCEPT for students?"

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The compulsory apologia: no 2 - fees 'just like tax'

One regularly heard apology for compulsory membership is that compulsory student association fees are 'just like tax' and are therefore justified.

But this week, no less an authority than Russell Brown has given us a handy definition of tax. Writing about the proposed artists' resale royalty, Brown argued the levy is not a tax because, "taxes are rendered to the government."

Got that? Taxes are rendered to the government. Not to incorporated societies. Not to the government and incorporated societies. Just to the government.

So apologists, please remove the 'just like tax' excuse from your apologia. Russell has spoken.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Compulsory AUSA pays student's explosive fine

From the archives - The Press, 18 March 1994

"Fined Auck student has costs paid by association

An Auckland University student fined for possession of explosives during a protest last year has had his costs paid by the Students' Association, an anti-student union group said yesterday.

The Auckland University Students' Association was forced to reverse its decision to pay $191.25 to the National Party and $244.20 to the police for damage caused by a student during a Budget day demonstration last year.

A legal opinion found that the payments had been unconstitutional.

The Freedom on Campus Network, set up by a member of the Young Nationals to seek the abolition of compulsory student unionism, released details of the arrest of a student, Mr John Hutton, for possession of an explosive (a flare) and intentional damage during a protest march.

Mr Hutton is the former chairman of AUSA's student representation committee and a former member of the association's executive....

Police records show Mr Hutton was dealt with under the police diversion scheme, after agreeing to apologise to the National Party for throwing paint at the party headquarters and on police uniforms, make reparation, and do 75 hours community service.

The Auckland student president, Mr Cyrus Richardson, said the association felt partly responsible for Mr Hutton's actions since it had organised the march, which got "a little bit out of hand"....

A spokesman for the Freedom on Campus Network, which has backed a private member's Bill from National MP Mr Michael Laws to have compulsory students' association membership abolished, said students should be outraged.

"Students do not pay fees on the understanding that they will be used to pay fines for people admitting guilt of criminal activity," Mr Nick Langley said."

A classic example of compulsory student association abuse - National-voting students forced to pay money to an organisation that defends people who break the law protesting against the party they support.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Fees for me but not for thee

Most research at universities is carried out by academics and scientists, but at Victoria University student politicians have made a remarkable breakthrough. Student politicians have just discovered two types of fee increases – bad fee increases and good fee increases.

A bad fee increase is when an institution wants to charge students more for their education.

A good fee increase is when a compulsory student association wants to charge students more for….err, well, for things like quiz nights, cheap bands, and err…car parking.

You can recognise a bad fee increase by student politicians’ rhetoric. Bad fee increases treat students like ‘cash cows’ they say. Student politicians like VUWSA president Geoff Hayward say bad fee increases show a severe and systemic lack of leadership, and “every time fees are raised, the University are literally passing the buck to students.” NZUSA co-pres Joey Randall says Vic council, by wanting to impose a bad fee increase, had “taken the easy road out and focused solely on students in order to increase revenue.” People who vote for bad fee increases are ignoring student opinion and abusing the democratic process.

However a good fee increase is different. When a compulsory student association wants to increase its fee it’s an absolute necessity. Without a good fee increase life as we know it will come to an end. Opponents of good fee increases are greedy and selfish. People who vote for a good fee increase have listened to the overwhelming weight of student opinion and exercised their democratic rights.

So be on the lookout for bad fee increases and good fee increases. If in doubt, remember this simple rule of thumb: students paying more for education is bad, students paying more for compulsory student
association membership is good.

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