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Closed Door Deal Angers Students

CLOSED DOOR DEAL ANGERS STUDENTS

Students at the University of Otago have expressed anger over the spending of its student association (OUSA). Unbeknown to students, eariler this year the Students Association spent an undisclosed amount of money in a secret deal with Whitcoulls to purchase half of UBS Otago, half of which the association already owned.

To date students have been told that they are not yet permitted to know how much student money was spent on the bookstore, a fact which has generated disquiet among the student body. Adding fuel to the fires of discontent, OUSA Presidnet Andrew Cushen has stated in no uncertain terms that this information will be kept secret “in the foreseeable future."

No sooner had the deal been done, the store's new owners neglected to order text books for a large number of medical students, who will now be waiting for a number of weeks to receive their required text books.

Student Choice spokesperson Glenn Peoples said today that this kind of secret dealing is just another reason why students should not be forced to join student associations.

"As longs as students are compelled to join student associations, OUSA along with the other compulsory associations will never have any motivation to be accountable to students. They can spend student money however and whenever they like, and there will be plenty more for them to do the same next year."

Accordng to Mr Peoples, "OUSA doesn't have a brilliant record in running businesses, and more to the point, it's just not its job to try and do so. This kind of secret dealing would never be tolerated by union members if a trade union decided to spend huge sums on commercial investments without any thought to where the money was coming from. On the one hand we have the fact that student associations are incorproated societis, which, in every other context in New Zealand, means that they have certain obligations towards their members, while on the other hand we have Steve Maharrey's education act which effectively makes them tiny despotisms - no accountability and no motivation to offer anything of value. Until the process of transition to voluntary student associations in New Zealand has finally been completed, students will always have reason to fear such irresponsible spending of their money, and there will always be cause for the kind of anger being felt at Otago at the moment."

Student Choice upholds voluntary student association membership on the grounds of freedom of association www.studentchoice.org.nz

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