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Lawyers: OUSA Bookstore Purchase Unconstitutional

Lawyers say OUSA's Bookstore Purchase Unconstitutional

The recent purchase for half the Otago University Bookstore (UBS) by Otago University Students Association (OUSA) for a price reported by local media to be between $740,000 and $750,000 (although the exact figure is yet to be anounced) without consulting students was not only 100% unaccountable, but today was found unconstitutional.

Student Choice contacted a top Dunedin law firm, specialists in business law, and had a senior partner review the constitution and the claims made by OUSA president Andrew Cushen in local media that the purchase was made in accord with the constitution.

Glenn Peoples, spokesperson for Student Choice stated:

"Today I was told by our lawyers that they are confident that the UBS purchase was well outside the constitution. This confirms what we have suspected all along, no incorporated society can spend this much money without consulting its membership first.

To spend this amount of money - assuming recent media reports about the amount are reliable - without permission from members who are forced to fund OUSA to get an education is 100% unaccountable and unconstitutional. For the past weeks as the executive have been placed under the spotlight over the UBS deal, OUSA have stated many times that their actions were in accord with the constitution, despite stating publicly that they only consulted a lawyer after the fact. Today they have been caught in their lie and Student Choice intends to hold them to account.

Otago students now have a choice, at the upcoming AGM on 28 April they can choose to ratify the executive's decision to purchase UBS and in doing so the action will become constitutional, or, they can refuse to ratify this decision and hold the executive accountable for what they have done. Students can safely take the latter option as the UBS purchase has been paid for so they will still get to keep their bookstore and access their student discounts.

It is ridiculous that Otago Students continue to be forced to fund this degree of incompetence. Compulsory unionism is a travesty and this expensive error has highlighted the scope of it. The sooner that students can access equal rights with workers and have voluntary student union membership, the sooner their money and freedom of association will be safeguarded."

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