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ACT MP Admits Inherent Problems in VSM

ACT MP Admits Inherent Problems in Voluntary Student Membership

ACT MP, Stephen Franks, told a room dotted with only a handful of listeners that there were problems inherent in voluntary student membership - such as the problem of 'freeloaders' getting for free services other students were paying for. He also told the audience student association membership was good value for money and ended his 30 minute speech by saying, curiously, he had no knowledge of what the effects of voluntary student membership at Waikato had actually been. The audience of ten, some of whom were ACT supporters, were surprised to hear Franks apparently admitting flaws in his own party's stance on voluntary membership of student associations.

He said he "wouldn't use" the cost of student association membership as a strong argument... [for voluntary student membership] as "what it's worth is a lot more than $150". (The proposed levy should students vote compulsory in next week's referendum is $35.) He also told his supporters "you're all inheritors of wonderful facilities other people have paid for...". WSU Vice-President (and 2001 co-president elect), Mecina Stanbury, says "I am glad a campaigner for VSM has finally admitted there is a problem with non-members freeloading off voluntary students associations, which makes it especially unfair that Mr Franks should be here campaigning against compulsory when he admits people are using our services without paying."

At the end of his talk, Franks said that while VSM had been "pioneered here", he "hadn't seen it recorded what actually did happen" as a result. He asked the audience members to fill him in, which some of them gladly did- one man saying "It'll [the Waikato Student Union] be dog tucker if it stays voluntary - there'll be nothing to freeload off."

New Zealand University Students' Association Co-President, Tanja Schutz, is angry Franks had campaigned against compulsory without even knowing the effects of VSM on the Waikato Students Union. "It's quite obvious that voluntary student membership has been a failure. Decades of assets and services that were built up for the benefit of all current and future students has been frittered away - this is not only pathetic - it's tragic."

For further comment: Tanja Schutz NZUSA Co President 025 86 86 77 Mecina Stanbury WSU Vice President 025-6421-365

===== Tanja Schutz (travel email account) Co President, New Zealand University Students' Association. 025 86 86 77.

In Wellington: Ph 04 498 2500, fax 04 473 2391

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