EXCLUSIVE: VUWSA membership still compulsory
Well it has to be said, Salient are full of super sleuths.
Take this excerpt from Laura McQuillan's year in review article:
Salient also found out that VUWSA membership can be voluntary upon application to the VUWSA President, and suggests pro-VSM students sort that out for next year so we don’t have to hear about freedom of association anymore (by the way, to the guy in INTP363 who said in the first lecture that VUWSA membership violates his human rights – you’re a dick, and your voice sounds like Mickey Mouse).First of all, to INTP363 guy, you're absolutely correct. No one should have to join an association that misrepresents their views.
But wait a minute - according to Salient we don't have to! Association membership is in fact voluntary after all!
But before I tell Student Choice to disband and go home, it might pay to have a closer look at the issue than Salient did.
The 'discoveries' they referred to in their September 17 article were taken from 229(A) from the Education Amendment Act 2000:
(5) A students association may, on the grounds of hardship, exempt any student from the obligation to pay the membership fee of the association; and a student so exempted may nonetheless be a member of the association.
(6) A students association may exempt any student from membership of the association on the grounds of conscientious objection; and, if exempted, the association must pay the student's membership fee to a charity of its choice.
(7) Every students association must ensure that information about the rights in subsections (5) and (6) is available to students before enrolment, and must make rules for dealing in a fair, timely, and consistent way with applications for exemption under either subsection.
Colour me confused, because I see nothing in there that provides for voluntary membership. What it does say is:
* If you're too poor you can beg the association to let them waive the levy - but you still have to join.
* If you have serious philosophical objections to joining a student association you can beg the association to let you not join, and if you're lucky (not everyone was granted such freedom this year) they'll agree - but you don't get your money back.
I would like to publicly congratulate Salient on 'discovering' a clause seven years after it was passed into law, and then totally misinterpreting it. That takes some remarkable skill to pull off.
There is also the issue of VUWSA violating subsection (7) in not making these 'exemptions' known to the student populace - a crime I suspect occurs on campuses nationwide.
The bigger point than that, even, is that freedom of association is not something anyone should ever have to ask permission for. To quote fellow Student Choice member Peter McCaffrey from the 17/9 article:
"The line of argument negates the notion of a right. It asks us to accept the violation of a right because a process exists whereby that right can be won through an appeal… rather than as something which is the natural entitlement of each citizen."Student Choice advocates for a law change that will give all students this natural entitlement, without exception.
Until we get this, Salient - and everyone else - will be hearing plenty about it.