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Will Wananga impose compulsory membership?

Labour to blame if Wananga imposes compulsory student membership
5th March

Labour will be responsible if compulsory student association membership is imposed on all Te Wananga o Aotearoa (TWA) students, a move which could unnecessarily add millions of dollars each year to TWA students' costs, Student Choice spokesman Glenn Peoples said today.

A meeting held in September last year proposed establishing a student association at TWA. Under legislation passed by Labour in 2000 all students will be forced to join the association if supporters organise a petition signed by ten percent of students and then win a vote on membership. The law does not specify a minimum level of turnout in the vote, so a handful of students can vote for compulsory membership and have it imposed on all 50,000 TWA students who then have to pay whatever levy the association sets.

The average cost of compulsory student associations is $100 per fulltime student. If this levy were to be imposed it could cost TWA students over $2 million each year. The law does not limit the fee that can be imposed on each student.

Mr Peoples said compulsory student associations have long histories of misrepresentation, waste and fraud. A compulsory student association at TWA would immediately be flush with millions of dollars of fee income and would be a tempting target for fraudsters. Compulsory membership makes it impossible for students to avoid paying or withdrawing their membership from an underperforming or mismanaged organisation.

Given the recent problems at TWA, the institution's council should reject any proposal to form a compulsory student association. If compulsory membership is imposed on TWA students, it should be remembered that this has been made possible by Labour's legislation.

Mr Peoples said any decision about joining an association should be an individual choice and should not be decided by any sort of vote.

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

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