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Old Left Tactics A Hallmark Of CPIT Campaign

VSM Canterbury

The referendum on student membership at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology will close this evening at 5 pm. The results of the referendum will be announced next week.

It is understood that the voting turnout has been light. This could indicate a widespread level of apathy as the many part time students at the campus are little affected by the student membership issue since they do not make widespread use of the services and do not contribute a significant amount to association fees. A light turnout will make it difficult for the winning side, whichever that may be, to claim a meaningful victory. The CPSA attempted to counter the light turnout by offering students all manner of incentives to vote and to go into the Student Centre building where they would be faced with wall to wall posters.

The campaign by the CPSA, the presently voluntary student's association on campus, shows why we needed the Tertiary Students Membership Act 1998, repealed by the present Labour Government. The on campus association under present law has considerable advantages over any opposition viewpoint. They can prevent opposing viewpoints from being aired and can call upon student funds without a specific mandate from the students. In this case, assistance came from ATSA / NZUSA, the two national associations which use fees of member associations, most of which are compulsory associations that don't ask their members whether they want to contribute to campaigns at other institutions.

VSM Canterbury is concerned that CPIT is funding the presently voluntary CPSA to belong to ATSA when those membership fees will be used to intervene in the affairs of student associations on other campuses. We oppose the involvement of ATSA and NZUSA and other off-campus associations in membership status campaigns on campuses. We support local representation, but we oppose national representation like ATSA and NZUSA when those bodies are duplicating existing organisations and are also supporting general left wing campaigns outside of the NZ tertiary sector, using fees taken compulsorily from students.

Why has the current Labour Government passed a law supporting CSM? * They need to pay back the student activists who supported Labour at the last election. * They need a carrot for Labour voting students who will see precious little else from Labour in the education sector. * With the fees freeze agreed to by most institutions, funds will be cut from student services because of the shortfall. Already this is happening at VUW and probably at CPIT. Compulory associations can raise their fees to make up the cuts, and their fees aren't covered by the freeze. Thus the students of the institutions end up covering the effects of Government funding cuts. * Compulsory associations (as with trade unions) are a vehicle for implementation of left wing control and policy in various situations. Since Labour finds it hard to con enough voters to support them very often in general elections, creating means for implementation of left wing control and policy in various situations has always been part of Labour's agenda. We see this in the Young Labour vice president's support for CSM, listed on our website.

Regardless of the outcome, VSM Canterbury is confident that the issue of VSM will not disappear until it is finally outlawed. The same type of campaign was fought for a long time over compulsory trade union membership which was finally killed by the 1990 National Government. Even today there are still people on the Left who believe we should have compulsory trade union membership but Labour has dumped it from its policy. Student representation nationally will not disappear under VSM. Even the National Party has a youth wing in which students are prominently represented. This makes many of the arguments advanced by pro-compulsory campaigners spurious and misleading.


Patrick Dunford VSM Canterbury

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