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Student Choice On OUSA Spending On Activism

Student Choice On OUSA Spending On Activism

Student watchdog group Student Choice has raised serious questions today about Otago University Students Association's spending student money on political and gay rights activism this week.

On Monday the 26th of April, OUSA's executive made the decision to spend over five thousand dollars to send gay rights activists to a conference to learn how to defend the government's proposed Civil Unions Bill against its conservative detractors. Student Choice's national spokesperson Glenn Peoples today condemned OUSA's action as irresponsible and in clear contempt of students. "Don't they have a conscience or an ounce of common sense?

The Civil Unions Bill is a controversial political issue. Outside of the Labour Party and her allies, the proposed bill has faced widespread opposition, especially from morally conservative and religious groups.

But OUSA's job is to advocate on behalf of all of its members, many of whom are conservative or religious. It would be obvious to most students why it would be inappropriate for OUSA to spends thousand of student dollars sending a group of Christians to a conference where they would learn how to attack homosexual rights to marriage, or to learn how to run churches, or to promote Christian morality.

Likewise, it would be inappropriate to spend student money on training students how to support the policies of United Future or the Christian Heritage party. Yet OUSA sees no problem in spending money to advance the homosexual cause, along with tacit support of Labour and opposition to any parties who oppose its proposed Civil Unions Bill. That's disgraceful."

"Surely," Peoples went on to say, "Most Christians or Muslims would not donate money to an organisation that made it its business to support the political cause of homosexual political lobby groups. The reason OUSA is able to spend student money in this irresponsible way without fear of backlash is that membership of OUSA is compulsory for all students.

Forcibly extracting money from anyone who wants a tertiary education, and then spending it on controversial and political causes against the will of students should never be tolerated in a free society."

According to Peoples, "the only way to take away such dangerous power is to make student associations voluntary. If that happens, the executive is then accountable to its members, and cannot do as it wishes without answering to those who supply them with the cash."

When asked whether or not this was a realistic goal, Peoples responded, "Oh yes. In fact, its inevitable, and most student association executives know that. We're in a transitional stage in New Zealand right now, where the issue is coming to the fore more and more. Some associations have become voluntary already, most have not done so - yet.

But it's time to get with the times. It is definitely happening."

Student Choice advocates voluntary membership of student associations on the grounds of freedom of association.

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