Clinging onto compulsion

I guess it was too much to hope for that most student politicians would see as an opportunity to refocus their organisations into student-focused bodies which actually provide goods and services that students value.

The vast majority of student associations have done deals with their universities, where the university will fund them, so they can have a zero membership fee. This means that effectively taxpayers and students are being forced to fund everything a student association does.

There is a case for a university to agree to fund certain discrete services such as a class rep system. But the universities it seem have so much surplus cash, that they are funding the student associations to do everything they used to do. In fact some like OUSA are boasting they will have more income than in the past.  If I was advising Steven Joyce, I’d be pointing out that the universities have just made his job a lot easier. If they have so much surplus money, that they can afford to fund social activities, clubs, political advocacy, student politician salaries, student media etc etc, then they obviously do not need any extra funding.

The rorting doesn’t stop there though. Never mind that Parliament passed a law saying no student should be forced to join a student association. by having the university take over their funding, some student associations such as OUSA have put a clause in their constitution declaring every single student at Otago is automatically a member of OUSA, unless they explicitly opt out. This I suspect is illegal, and would not survive a legal challenge. They do it to maintain the myth that they somehow have a mandate to speak on behalf of all students.

It is disappointing that so many student politicians have sold out for the money. By agreeing to be reliant on the universities for their funding, they have become like the trade unions in the former USSR. Those unions did not represent their members, but were in fact there to further the roles of the Government. By choosing to have the university fund them, instead of students, they will naturally over time put the interests of the university over the students they claim to represent.

A brave association would have said we’ll have a (for example) $40 membership fee, and we are confident we can persuade at least half the student on campus that we provide benefits worth more than $1 a week.

Comments (41)

Login to comment or vote

Add a Comment

%d bloggers like this: