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Civil Rights at Waikato Squashed in Backroom Deal

Milosovic Should Take Lessons: Civil Rights at Waikato Squashed in Backroom Deal

"It took a secret vote, held during study week when few students are on campus, with 24 hours notice, only one side of the debate being heard and unconstitutional actions on behalf of the Waikato Students' Union (WSU) for a compulsory vote on student union membership to be achieved at Waikato University."

"The WSU constitution clearly states that its Executive must only promote voluntary membership, something its President flagrantly ignored. Further, there are apparently 3800 members of the WSU yet only 1002 students voted in favour of compulsory, indicating that 2/3 of WSU's membership are not in accord with their Executive now they will have no choice next year."

"Three times Waikato University students, after ample notice, both sides of the debate being presented and in record high voter turnouts of 25-33%, held during term time have resoundingly said that they wanted their union to be voluntary. The highest mandate ever, 33%, was achieved last year after students had seen two years of Voluntary membership in action."

"However, now with the lowest ever voter turnout in a Waikato referendum on this issue, gained by morally questionable means in an undemocratic secret process, a 'huge mandate' of 10.5% has resoundingly rejected the voices of 33% of students. I wonder what the other 90% of students would have voted for if they had been given the choice? There is a considerable difference between being given a ballot paper, then choosing not to vote and never even being told a vote was on."

"The University has been unable to give a single reason to justify only giving one days notice to students of the vote. They have acted in the worse possible bad faith to their students."

"It was interesting to note that WSU and NZUSA justified the secret vote on compulsory membership, with the rejoinder that it was 'perfectly legal' for the vote to be held this way. I take it from WSU and NZUSA's newly found acceptance of things legal that there will be no more lobbying from them against 'perfectly legal' user pays education, or 'perfectly legal' fee increases and that both will condemn any student association that illegally occupies a registry office…"

"If the National Party were in Government and decided to hold a snap election in 24 hours during the Christmas/New Years break, telling only their own supporters and then appointed one of their supporters to co-ordinate the vote and another of their supporters to count the votes. Are we supposed to believe that WSU and NZUSA would accept this if it were perfectly legal and not complain when National won? What is the difference between this analogy and the current scenario? The University had 24 hours to tell students the vote was on, only pro-compulsory groups were consulted, the vote was held during study week, the returning officer and the co-ordinator of the votes are both pro-compulsory and only one side of the issue was told to constituents."

"If students had each been sent a postal ballot paper to ensure that every student had a chance to vote and had been allowed to hear more than one side of the issue, history tells us that they would have resoundingly and en masse rejected the pet agenda of the Marxist and Mormons that control the WSU. The fact that this was not allowed to happen shows how desperate WSU and NZUSA have been to return to compulsory membership; they scheduled the vote during the one week when there are no exams or lectures on campus and gave only one days notice. These are tactics Slobodan Milosevich would have been proud of."

"These undemocratic actions have shown why the referenda model is flawed and that the inevitable result of their actions is that when there is a change of Government all student associations will lose their legislative right to have compulsory membership and force students to support their political agendas."

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Madeleine Flannagan is the regional representative for Student Choice and former 1999 Waikato Students' Union Vice President. She can be contacted on 09 836 7884

email: nz@soul.org.nz

contact: Madeleine Flannagan is the regional representative for Student Choice and former 1999 Waikato Students' Union Vice President. She can be contacted on 09 836 7884

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