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Low Turnouts Further Damage Student Associations

LOW VOTER TURNOUTS FURTHER DAMAGE STUDENT ASSOCIATIONS' CREDIBILITY

Voter turnouts of as low as 3% in student association elections at Waikato and Victoria Universities, and Otago Polytechnic have further undermined the credibility and legitimacy of compulsory student associations, Student Choice spokesman Clint Heine said today.

Mr Heine said last year the Labour-Alliance government passed a law that effectively forced all students to join political student associations. Steve Maharey attempted to justify compulsory membership on the grounds that it would somehow mean all students would be represented, however the extremely low turnouts at Waikato, Victoria and Otago have made a mockery of Maharey's claim. "It's obvious that compulsory associations don't represent all students. Forced membership is simply a way to fund political groups that support parties of the left," Heine said.

"There are over 12,000 students at Waikato University, yet the 2002 president received only 207 votes from a total turnout of less than 4%. There is no way that the next year's WSU president can legitimately claim to speak on behalf of all 12,000 Waikato students," Mr Heine said.

"The situation was only slightly better at Victoria University where only 10% of the 14,000 students voted. At Otago Polytechnic just over 3% of the institution's 3000 students voted, a turnout even lower than last year," Mr Heine said.

"Not only do these student politicians illegitimately claim to speak on behalf of others, they also have control of exorbitant amounts of money. Next year WSU will take over $500,000 from Waikato students; VUWSA one million dollars and the Otago Polytechnic association over $200,000. Student politicians have been complaining about loans recently but they're more than happy to take millions of dollars off students every year," he said.

Heine said the low turnouts were more evidence that compulsory student associations are illegitimate and simply do not represent all tertiary students. "It's obvious that if you force someone to join a political group it doesn't mean their views are represented by that group," Mr Heine said. "The media should challenge any group that claims to speak on behalf of all students," he said.

ENDS

For more information contact:

Clint Heine Spokesman Student Choice NZ clint@politician.com 021 122 8544


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