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Compulsory Membership Behind $203k M@Wsa Fraud

Compulsory Membership Behind $203k M@Wsa Fraud

The fraud case involving $203,000 taken from the Massey Wellington Students Association (M@WSA) is another example of the abuses made possible by compulsory membership of tertiary student associations Student Choice said.

Spokesman Glenn Peoples said people would be asking how student organisations came to have so much money in the first place. He said compulsory membership of M@WSA and other associations creates large pools of money that make tempting targets for fraudsters.

Every fulltime Massey Wellington student is forced to pay $120 a year to M@WSA giving the association annual income of over $350,000. Polytechnic student associations are particularly susceptible to fraudsters, and this is the latest in a long list of frauds involving compulsory student associations.

Peoples said compulsory membership creates loose controls on association funds. "Because students are forced to join associations like M@WSA they don't take an active interest in the affairs of the organisation. This gives a small number of individuals control of large amounts of money and makes fraud easier," he said.

Compulsory associations are not subject to the same discipline as other incorporated societies. If fraud occurs in other groups members can leave and reduce the organisation's income. Even though Massey students' money has recently been misappropriated, compulsory membership means next year M@WSA will take another $350,000 from students.

Ultimately the Labour government is responsible for compulsory membership. The education amendment act makes it easy for associations to retain or revert to compulsory membership and then take money from students.

Financial misappropriation of the type seen at M@WSA will continue as long as students are forced to fund student organisations. Why should students be made to pour even more money into organisations like M@WSA that have demonstrated they're incapable of looking after other people's money?

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