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CPIT Referendum Shows Low Suport For Compulsory

CPIT Referendum Result Shows Low Level Of Support For Compulsory

Press Release: VSM Canterbury

20 September 2000

The Student Membership referendum results for Christchurch Polytech Institute of Technology were released on 18th September.

7599 students were eligible to vote. Just under 10%, 744 students, actually voted. There were 592 votes in favour of compulsory membership and 152 votes against.

Although the result which will return the CPIT campus to compulsory membership is disappointing, there are several interesting and important features of the results:

- The pro compulsory vote has not increased from the level that it was at during the 1999 referendum in which the association went voluntary. 633 votes were cast in favour of compulsory membership on that occasion.

- The use of postal voting in a small section of the student population resulted (as it did in the entire 1999 referendum) in voting in which the numbers stacked up in favour of voluntary membership.

- the very low turnout makes it difficult to claim that there is overwhelming support of the compulsory option. 8% in favour of compulsory is by no means overwhelming.

In view of the attempts by CPIT and CPSA to get students to turn out in greater numbers, VSMC suggests the balloting should have been by postal means. The low turnout for voluntary this time around is disappointing, and suggests that the limits of awareness raising, to on-campus activity, was insufficient to communicate with a sufficiently large number of pro-voluntary supporters. Of course the law now requires that the institution consult with the Students Asscciation as to the form of the campaign and this might reasonably lead to speculation as to the association's influence in determining the most favourable outcome to themselves.

It is however also encouraging that despite the massively greater campaign adopted by the compulsory side this time around, they did not raise their overall support base. This included campaigning from the remaining pro CSM associations, NZUSA and ATSA.

Given the low overall level of support for CSM, it would not be unreasonable to expect that this will receive attention from future governments. One fully expects that National will examine the issue again next time they are in power. It is not a "dead" issue as claimed by left wing student leaders around NZ.

Patrick Dunford who was responsible for the pro voluntary campaign on campus at CPIT, indicates that his main interests will be in getting the most responsible management of student funds taken under compulsory membership next year and in pressing for improved on-campus representation for students, an area of agreement with the CPSA.

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