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Compulsory Membership Betrays Waikato Students

Compulsory Membership Betrays Waikato Students Again

Compulsory membership of the student associations at Waikato University and the Waikato Institute of Technology is the underlying cause of the serious problems facing the student organisations at both institutions, Student Choice spokesman Clint Heine said today.

Mr Heine said that both compulsory associations, the Waikato Students Union (WSU) at Waikato University and Students at Waikato Institute of Technology (SAWIT), have major problems that can be traced back to compulsory membership.

Mr Heine said the compulsory WSU is a shambles. "The current president was elected by only 2% of students, there have been numerous resignations, the executive is bitterly divided and there have been threats of violence and intimidation," Mr Heine said. "One executive member has complained that WSU provides an unsafe and violent workplace. Another executive member has been given $10,000 to sue the magazine owned by WSU," he said.

"WSU is so dysfunctional that it can't even perform basic functions. University employees say WSU has no visibility on campus and is incapable of scrutinising the university. WSU's own website shows the organisation hasn't put out a single media release all year," Mr Heine said.

Mr Heine said the compulsory SAWIT have not completed required annual accounts, and there have been allegations of internal corruption and vote rigging. There have been numerous resignations including the association's finance officer. Heine also said in the last month the NZUSA president has unsuccessfully attempted to intervene in the disputes at WSU and SAWIT.

Heine said compulsory membership had given both organisations exorbitant income, in WSU's case over half a million dollars. Mr Heine said the infighting at both associations boils down to a question of who controls all the money. "This money is derived from compulsory membership. If students weren't forced to pay compulsory fees to these groups, there wouldn't be a huge pool of money for people to fight over," Mr Heine said.

Mr Heine said three groups were responsible for the mess caused by compulsory membership. "First, the Labour-Alliance government which introduced pro-compulsory membership legislation. Second, the councils of the institutions which contrived in holding questionable referenda and will not challenge the legitimacy of obviously unrepresentative student associations. Third, the student politicians who support compulsory membership and have used student money to advance their own agendas," Mr Heine said.

Mr Heine said these problems will continue until compulsory membership of student groups is abolished. "Students should be free to decide on an individual basis whether or not they join an incorporated society," Mr Heine said.

Student Choice promotes freedom of association through voluntary membership of student associations.


For more information contact

Clint Heine
Spokesman Student Choice Inc
021 122 8544

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