VSM

May 27th, 2010 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Act on Campus have blogged about a survey by Student Job Search which asks people to rate the most valuable “student association” services funded by your student levy, listing:

  • Accom Services
  • Career Development
  • Student Counselling
  • Disability Support
  • Early childhood
  • Financial Advice
  • Student Health
  • IT Services
  • Learning Support
  • New Student Orientation and Transition
  • Rec and Social Services
  • Cultural Mentoring
  • SJS

Now this is a great example of the many lies spread to defend compulsory membership. The vast majority of the above services have absolutely nothing to do with student associations. Student associations do not fund the careers services, student health, student counselling, IT services etc.

Even Student Job Search receives just a miniscule amount of money from student associations. 95% of its funding comes from the taxpayer.

My advice to MPs is to ignore all and every claim made by student associations about the so called services they fund, and instead just look at their financial accounts. That will expose how little they spend on services.

But we do have an example of one recent spending decision, in Otago:

A Student Association staffer received more than $40,000 funding to spend a year travelling the world researching student drinking habits – then delivered a four-and-a-half page report on her findings.

One of her key recommendations was that the university schedule more Friday morning lectures, to dissuade students from getting boozed on Thursdays.

Otago University Students Association events manager Vanessa Reddy spent most of 2009 on her tour of dozens of US universities, to develop a 40-point drinking plan.

A 40 point plan that took up four and a half pages? I guess there were not a lot of footnotes!

Prompted by high-profile problems with student drunkenness in Dunedin, the university, city council and students’ association all chipped in towards Reddy’s costs, according to student magazine Critic. The association also paid Reddy five hours’ wages a week so she could help her temporary replacement from afar.

What was the contribution from each I wonder,and did any of them bother to do a contract specifying what the deliverables should be in return for the funding?

I note all three funders were speending other people’s money, not their own.

Also back home, Salient reports on an amusing spat at VUWSA (of course) where an executive member has been sanctioned for slagging off Weir House residents as “rich kids” who see staying at Weir as a “status boost”.

Now this is a pretty silly issue, but it does raise a good example of why student associations will do better under , due to the culture change.

Under VSM student associations will be focused on persuading students to join them, not slagging them off. If Weir House students had the ability to resign as members, or decline joining VUWSA, you can be damn sure an executive member won’t be slagging them off (unles they are exceptionally stupid).

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44 Responses to “VSM”

  1. MikeNZ (3,233 comments) says:

    Its a joke isn’t it, that in the highest educational levels of a democracy, they can’t exercise it (democracy) as to whether they want to pay or not or whether it is worthwhile to them.
    To make it worse there is little accountability from those being paid.

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  2. Feanor (38 comments) says:

    I was at Weir House in 96 and 97 and I certainly wasn’t rich. I paid the weekly board out of my Student Allowance with nothing left over.

    I hope I’m still alive when the S in VUWSA finally stands for Students instead of Socialists.

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  3. nickb (3,696 comments) says:

    It angers me that students, regardless of their political background, are forced to pay to fund the weekly communist garbage printed out in Salient, Nexus etc every week.

    And then these publications attack anything even remotely right of far left, and dress it all up as objective journalism… what a sad joke student politicians are.

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  4. Murray (8,803 comments) says:

    Here’s my five point plan:

    1. Remove bars from the campus.
    2. Remove from student accomadation anyone who disrupts others though excessive alcohol consumption
    3. Ban alcohol from the campus.
    4. Expell any student intoxicated and/or hung over to the point of sub par function during lectures.
    5. Expell any student who does not pass 50% or more of their papers.

    Took three minutes and you have have it for free. It also addresses the key issue based on two and half years of direct obersvation.

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  5. Captain Neurotic (203 comments) says:

    Weir House is similar to Knox College in Dunedin – When I was a resident at Knox we were referred to a the ‘poncy kids’ also in the local student rag. However there were many of us paying our fees off over the summer and through our student loan payments to afford living there.

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  6. Jeremy Harris (319 comments) says:

    Act on Campus is codeword for Rick “My argument is so powerful” Giles isn’t it..?

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  7. scrubone (3,097 comments) says:

    I once witnessed a student reduced to tears by sexual harassment, due to the student association’s “Sex Mag” naming the place she lived the year before as one of the “hot sex spots” on campus.

    I also happen to know that the association had (for once) surveyed their members on attitudes to various services. Most services received indifferent ratings, but the survey gave a strong thumbs down to one particular publication.

    Their response was to ignore the feedback, and make it worse leading to what I witnessed.

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  8. Captain Neurotic (203 comments) says:

    Was that the critic in 2006 – the one they retracted all issues and tried to ban?

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  9. MikeE (439 comments) says:

    “One of her key recommendations was that the university schedule more Friday morning lectures, to dissuade students from getting boozed on Thursdays.”

    lol what a tool.

    They will just get pissed, and not turn up to lectures. lol

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  10. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    MikeNZ (1839) Says:

    May 27th, 2010 at 3:14 pm
    Its a joke isn’t it, that in the highest educational levels of a democracy, they can’t exercise it (democracy) as to whether they want to pay or not or whether it is worthwhile to them.

    Of course, I wish I’d thought of that first Mike, then using your logic I wouldn’t have to pay taxes and rates.

    Fuck, the religious right are dumb as pig shit!

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  11. nickb (3,696 comments) says:

    Fuck you are a dribbler LRO, as well as being the world’s first living brain donor.

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  12. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    But we do have an example of one recent spending decision, in Otago:

    A Student Association staffer received more than $40,000 funding to spend a year travelling the world researching student drinking habits – then delivered a four-and-a-half page report on her findings.

    And how many MPs head off on “study trips” and hand in a single page report?

    [DPF: A year long study trip??]

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  13. LeftRightOut (622 comments) says:

    oh, nickb, I bow to your superior arguments and will henceforth withdraw,

    Yeah, Right!

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  14. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    @nickb: Have you actually read Salient? The former editor, Tristan Whateverhisnamewas, is probably the most left-leaning of the past five or six years, and he did strive for a degree of balance. None of the editors have been Communists or pushed a Communist agenda, and the majority have been highly critical of the antics of the useless bastards in VUWSA, many of whom are or have been members of such glorious organisations as the Workers Party. (glorious is sarcasm, by the way.)

    @Murray: Re: your five point plan, I assume it only refers to Otago?

    At Vic and Massey in Wellington, the majority of drinking certainly isn’t done at the bars on campus, but then, I suppose Vic and Massey don’t have the reputation or sizeable problems of Otago either. The problem, if it occurs on campus, could possibly be solved by raising the prices of alcohol at the bars on campus and/or by bar staff enforcing the laws around alcohol and intoxication, although that can be somewhat a grey area – as if you’re a clever drunk intoxication can be difficult to detect, but then if you’re a clever drunk you’re probably not going to be causing many problems. Of course, if you’re going to better enforce the laws around intoxication, that may require bouncers as well.

    This also doesn’t deal with the fact that there are many bars catering to students in Dunedin who also offer cheap drinks. If the bars on campus raised their prices or if there were no bars on campus, there is a likelihood the students would just gravitate towards the bars in town offering the cheap drinks. If the bars in town also raised their prices then students would likely do what is done in places with expensive prices for drinks in bars which is to purchase more from supermarkets and liquor stores. If supermarkets and liquor stores raised their prices, I know many in Otago who are more than capable of distilling and/or brewing their own. I also know of many who don’t have a big problem with the legality factor of what they are ingesting, so raising prices may also make other substitutes more attractive.

    As for removing disruptive students from student accomodation, as far as I am aware it is an option and it is sometimes pursued, but there is also a due process which has to be followed. I suspect the process varies between accomodation providers and is not standardised?

    Alcohol is not banned outside the bars on campus in Otago?

    As for expelling hungover/drunk students, you could probably make a case for the expulsion of drunk and disruptive students, but a hangover, or even drunkenness, is hard to detect and prove, particularly in the larger size classes. It’s a pretty unworkable idea.

    Your fifth suggestion doesn’t actually target drinking culture – somebody I knew who was on his final warning at Weir in his first year for drunkenness during exam time also ended up with very good marks and an honours degree. Your solution is also going to be implemented to an extent by government and universities anyway, with some form of restricted entry and loans only available to those who pass more than half of their papers, am I right?

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  15. nickb (3,696 comments) says:

    LRO/billyborker/sonic/racer/MyNameisJack:

    Sorry I forgot.

    Labour good, National bad. My apologies

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  16. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    @MikeE: ““One of her key recommendations was that the university schedule more Friday morning lectures, to dissuade students from getting boozed on Thursdays.”

    lol what a tool.

    They will just get pissed, and not turn up to lectures. lol”

    This is true, unless lectures are also made mandatory but the only way to ascertain that people are turning up, unless there is significant investment in technical university infrastructure, is if the class sizes are small. Even then, however, there would possibly be insurmountable problems for such infrastructure to overcome.

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  17. Murray (8,803 comments) says:

    Fuck the fascist left are think as pig shit aren’t they.

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  18. RRM (10,104 comments) says:

    Amazing how you can post up one shocking example and suddenly the whole cake is rotten.

    And f*ck, Weir house kids *ARE* snobby little rich brats. That’s not a function of market-driven-whatevers, that’s the truth!

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  19. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    “Fuck the fascist left are think as pig shit aren’t they.”

    Straw man or LRO reference?

    Agree with DPF, however, funding the trip does seem a bit ridiculous, as does the size of the report.

    @RRM: From what I can recall, Weir was the house for snobby rich brats, the quite intelligent or sporty, and then a small proportion of randomly picked “normals”.

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  20. Paul Williams (880 comments) says:

    David, a good number of the services listed exist only because Student Associations lobbied, part-funded and/or shamed institutions or governments to fund them. Student Job Search’s ongoing existence mightn’t depend on SA funding, but it’s formation did. For all the lies you object to, you might be guilty of more than a little obfuscation yourself.

    [DPF: And SAs will exist without compulsion, just as lawyers, doctors, farmers etc have all also found out.

    I have lobbied for many things, such as fibre to the home. Does that mean it should be compulsory for people to fund me?]

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  21. peteremcc (316 comments) says:

    Sure Paul.

    And which part of what you’ve said requires Student Associations to be compulsory?

    I may have missed it but does one of the clauses of the VSM bill ban voluntary Student Associations from lobbying their universities?

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  22. Paul Williams (880 comments) says:

    peteremcc, I’m a little reluctant to get drawn into this debate since I’ve been through it as many times as David and others have and in the end I simple disagree that universal membership is an eggregious reduction of anyone’s human rights…

    that said, my reply is: it’s almost certainly hugely impractical and possibly even impossible for a transient student population to have significant influence on university administrations without well developed systems, processes and representation which depends upon funding, which depends upon membership.

    I’ve long advocated generous membership exemptions, even if (as I’ve previously acknowledged) I personally erred when I was involved in student politics, 16 years ago I should add, by not immediately agreeing to exemptions. I support an opt-out model, largely what Labour’s legislation established, over Douglas’s hopelessly ideological opt-in model.

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  23. Nick C (110 comments) says:

    @LRO “Of course, I wish I’d thought of that first Mike, then using your logic I wouldn’t have to pay taxes and rates.”

    So student associations are basically full blown governments now are they?

    Why is it that students are the only group in society who require a body other than central government to govern us?

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  24. Leonidas (1,450 comments) says:

    Amazing how you can post up one shocking example and suddenly the whole cake is rotten.

    lets not forget the CPSA president who embezzled about 300k from the student association.

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  25. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    “I support an opt-out model, largely what Labour’s legislation established, over Douglas’s hopelessly ideological opt-in model.”

    Is this the same opt-out model where you don’t get your money back?

    I’ll note that I’m actually ambivalent to VSM.

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  26. Leonidas (1,450 comments) says:

    With the CPSA, you can opt-out, but they donate the membership fee to a charity for you.

    How fucked up is that?

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  27. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    Yeah, that’s my problem with the opt-out model. There’s no real incentive to opt out other than spite or perhaps a desire to donate further than one already does.

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  28. MIKMS (167 comments) says:

    This Bill can’t go through soon enough
    It will allow total freedom, the right for the SAs to be accountable to those that actually support them, end student corruption and allow human rights to be granted again to the people of NZ who wish to go to Tertiary Education without forced membership of corrupt organisation that pay for drunken jaunts, pimped out vans and spaghetti throwing contests!!! (and with that last one my bet is they just took the stuff from the food bank) !

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  29. shaunwallis (44 comments) says:

    @RRM: Are you completely divorced from reality? Go to Weir House and look for yourself – most of the kids in there are paying for their accomodation through their student allowances + jobs. I know this as I bloody well was one of them last year. I can assure you that I’m absolutely NOT rich – like many of the kids in there. Get a grip!

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  30. Clint Heine (1,495 comments) says:

    Too easy… let’s start from the top.

    Leftrightout – you cannot equate taxes and participating in Govt to paying a compulsory levy to an incorporated society.
    Speaking of dumb as pig shit, are you really saying you’re happy for money to be wasted on “one page reports” or are you neck deep inside student politics?

    Jive Kitty, you’re right, but Salient through the decades is very well known for its communist leanings. My old man flatted with an editor of Salient when he was at Uni.

    RRM – so what WHO lives in these halls? What gives the student association the right to pick on people due to their so called capacity to earn more than others? That’s just plain nasty, like everything else you say.

    Paul – “Opt in” and “Universal” are weasel words for compulsion. Are you saying that trade unions should be based on that model as well or do you place more importance for budding Labour MPs to have their training subsidised by students nationwide? A QC said that CSM was in fact breaching the bill of rights. Giving all students the choice whether or not to join at enrolment is now as you say “hopelessly ideological” That is fooling nobody!

    I have it on good authority that OUSA didn’t consult any students on payment for this junket. I can also say that students would be bloody pissed off if they knew their money was being wasted on telling them how they should drink and party.

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  31. Jim (358 comments) says:

    Clint, I think you meant “Opt out” as weasel words for compulsion.

    Just an aside: I vaguely recall that I was able to avoid AUSA membership in the mid 1980’s by opting to join the Engineering Society instead. Looking back I remember the ES being significantly more civilised that AUSA.

    While the AUSA president and cohorts were busy failing their courses and failing to get “bonkspace” built, the ES was organising social events with faculty, IPENZ, and introducing us to IEEE. At this point I must confess that ES beer has clouded my recollection.

    Looking back I think that NORML was a better AUSA than AUSA itself.

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  32. OliverI (112 comments) says:

    Is the counter-argument from those that support compulsory membership, which is focused on a loss of services, an admission that it breaches the Universal Declaration on Human Rights?

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  33. OliverI (112 comments) says:

    *acceptance

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  34. Clint Heine (1,495 comments) says:

    Jim, yes… oops, didn’t check that before I said yes. Opt out is a cop out… and I can’t believe these lefties really believe what they say on VSM.

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  35. MikeNZ (3,233 comments) says:

    1. Remove bars from the campus.
    2. Remove from student accomadation anyone who disrupts others though excessive alcohol consumption
    3. Ban alcohol from the campus.
    4. Expell any student intoxicated and/or hung over to the point of sub par function during lectures.
    5. Expell any student who does not pass 50% or more of their papers.

    Good points Murray, may I add one,
    6. expell anyone who defends someone on points 4 & 5.

    That pretty much solves 80% of the problems.
    Now to deal with the Lefty’s like LRO.
    oops there goes a % of the staff.

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  36. mpledger (425 comments) says:

    The problem is that the services have to be there. If students don’t pay for them through their student union membership then the university will pick up the tab and fund them through a student levy. At that point the students lose control and input of the service and the university will outvote any students reps.

    Voluntary membership may appear be all about compulsion to join a union but the real deal is about who has control and direction of the services provided to students.

    (Universities are strapped for cash, a services levy would be a great source of income that is not covered by the government constraint on fees rises.)

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  37. OliverI (112 comments) says:

    Why not give students the power to decide for themselves whether they actually value the services, let them vote with their feet. For example it’s all well and good to claim that X number of students “value events” for example, but do even 1,000 students turn up for any event (i.e. slightly less than 5% of students?)

    The services that most students use, as illustrated in David’s post, are already covered by the student services levi, not the student’s association.

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  38. Jman (84 comments) says:

    “an executive member has been sanctioned for slagging off Weir House residents as “rich kids” who see staying at Weir as a “status boost”.”

    A bright future in the labour party awaits this one

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  39. HarrietG (1 comment) says:

    Just a correction on the comments about an OUSA staffer.

    Here is the letter to the editor sent to NZ Herald about the misrepresentations in the article discussed here:

    “I was disappointed to see the article ‘$40k for 4-page booze study’ printed on Sunday as it was incredibly misrepresentative and misleading, including incorrect quotes.
    OUSA only spent $3000, supporting Vanessa Reddy’s trip to the US to research minimising alcohol related harm at campus based events.
    Vanessa voluntarily chose to take a year’s sabbatical and raised funds for her year in the United States as a private individual. Because her immersion in a culture of campus events where alcohol was not the focus had benefits for her role at OUSA, OUSA agreed to contribute by funding her $3,000 out of the professional development line.
    The ‘4 page report’ in question was based on a presentation given at an ALAC conference of practical solutions that have been tried and tested. As well as the report, the skills she gained and work experience have had operational impacts already (including a really well run Orientation week this year and some big events coming up in Semester 2). Vanessa has also contributed to a variety of activities and meetings with stakeholder groups such as the University, ALAC, OUSA, the DCC and Colleges of Residence.”

    Interestingly, the writer of the article (who quoted me wrong) used to work for Salient.

    Because OUSA staff are paid less than what they would get if they were working for a profit making organisation, OUSA often contributes to staff development by enabling them to upskill whilst working.

    Harriet Geoghegan
    OUSA President

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  40. Paul Williams (880 comments) says:

    Clint, we’ll not likely ever agree on VSM but universal membership is not weasel words. I commend the VSMers for polarising the discussion and insisting the alternative is compulsory but I’m not buying it. I’ve been through the debate on the human rights issue many times previously including, not so long ago, at publicaddress and simply don’t agree universal membership of an SA where you have an automatic right to be exempt if you object on broadly defined grounds offends any of the various codifications of the right to free association (note that it’s a right to free association, not a right to not associate).

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  41. peteremcc (316 comments) says:

    Paul, there is no automatic right to be exempt – it’s up to the SA to decide if you’re let out or not – and there aren’t broadly defined grounds – they are very specific and limited.

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  42. dave (821 comments) says:

    Student associations do not fund the careers services, student health, student counselling, IT services etc.
    I thought that survey made that pretty clear, given that it said they were funded by the student services levy. Student Associations are not funded by the student services levy, even if they do own and co-fund Student Job Search..

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  43. James (1,299 comments) says:

    Look…its fucking simple……forcing someone to belong to anything or to be enslaved to anyone is WRONG…get it you socialist cunts?!

    [DPF: 30 demerits. Do not use that word[

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