Wednesday, October 17, 2007

EXCLUSIVE: VUWSA membership still compulsory

The Salient gang on the trail of another hot scoop

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.

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.

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At Wed Oct 17, 04:40:00 AM 2007, Anonymous Tame Iti said...

Either way membership is voluntary-you can choose not to go to University.
So you're wrong.

At Thu Oct 18, 03:44:00 AM 2007, Blogger Mike Heine said...

Either way, you're clutching at straws.
Someone whose ideal job is to be a lawyer or doctor (and lets face it, we need lots of them) have to go to University to enter these professions.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly states that everyone has the right to education. It's the same charter that grants us freedom of association. It is dishonest to pretend these two fundamental principles are irreconcilable. They simply are not.

At Fri Oct 19, 01:11:00 AM 2007, Anonymous scrubone said...

It's the exact same crap they've been pulling for over 10 years. That part of the law has not changed at all.

I know one guy who was dead set not to join one year - and he was masters student. Well, he was turned down.

Freedom of association is like freedom of speech - if you have to fill out a form to get it, you haven't got it at all.

At Sat Oct 20, 04:48:00 AM 2007, Blogger Heine said...

"tame iti" is wrong. Can he/she tell me why membership to NZUSA for their member unions is completely voluntary?

Maybe we should force people like you to join National, and then fill in forms and go begging to not be a member. Only for you to STILL pay them your money and you still get your National newsletters through your front door every week :)

Hmmn? Answer that punk ass!


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