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Compulsion Gives MWSA $350,000 Honeypot

The police investigation into financial irregularities in the accounts of the Massey Wellington Students Association (MWSA) highlights that the fact that the pool of money at risk, the association's $350,000 income, is derived from compulsory membership, Student Choice said.

Spokesman Clint Heine said the huge amount of money accumulated by compulsory membership made a tempting target for fraudsters. "Every fulltime Massey Wellington student is forced to pay $120 a year to MWSA giving the association an annual income of over $350,000. Polytechnic student associations are particularly susceptible to fraudsters, and over the years there have been numerous cases of misappropriation of funds," he said.

Heine said compulsory membership makes fraud in student associations easier. "Because students are forced to join associations they're not motivated to take an active interest in the organisations. This gives a small number of individuals control of large amounts of money and makes fraud possible," he said.

Compulsory student associations are not subject to the same discipline as other organisations. If fraud occurs in an ordinary incorporated society people can withdraw their membership and reduce the organisation's income. However compulsory student associations suffer no penalties for misappropriation of money. Even though Massey students' money has gone missing, in 2003 students will be forced to pay MWSA another $350,000. "This is outrageous," said Heine.

Ultimately the Labour government is to blame. Steve Maharey's education amendment act, which makes compulsory membership possible, gives compulsory associations income regardless of how poorly they perform. Labour paints itself as the student's friend but its policies allow student associations to waste millions of dollars year after year, Heine said.

Clint Heine 021 122 8544

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

20 December 2002

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