It is time for National to live up to its core principles and make a commitment to voluntary membership of student associations. gives us two good reminders of why students should have the choice about whether or not they hand over millions of dollars every year.

First have a look at this story and comments at Salient about the VUWSA Exec refusing to lay a wreath for . Scores of angry students – but you know not one of them is legally allowed to quit as a member and get his or her fee back – or refuse to join up and spend the fee joining a group they do wish to belong to.

The other going on is at itself. I’m not going to cover the full story, as it is on Ethical Martini, but Salient (which is funded by VUWSA compulsory fees) threatened Dave at Big News with a defamation suit over a very trivial issue (involving someone from the Salient office spamming his site). Now student media of all groups should be the last to be trying to use defamation laws aggressively against people. Again – if they actually had to earn their money – not get given it by statute – this silliness would largely disappear. Fortunately Salient have withdrawn their threat of legal action.

If you want to give 200,000+ students a choice, then e-mail Minister of Education Anne Tolley and ask her to stick it on the agenda for 2009 or 2010.

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