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NZUSA misrepresents centre right voting students

11 Novermber 2005

NZUSA misrepresents centre right voting students

Student Choice have raised concerns over the election of the president of Young Labour as co-president of New Zealand University Students' Association (NZUSA).

According to Student choice Spokesperson Glenn Peoples, NZUSA has a history of having high profile members who have worked or do work with the political parties of the left like Labour, the Greens and the Alliance.

"For Mr Roberts I guess it's a case of moving from one left wing political organisation to one slightly further to the left." According to Peoples, the fault doesn't lie with Mr Roberts. "He can pursue whatever job he likes of course. The issue is just that this confirms the consistent pattern that NZUSA has of having a clear political agenda in spite of the fact that it knows that students come from a wide range of political perspectives."

Peoples said today that if students hold the views of the parties on the left on education matters, then they should be free to belong to associations that advance those views on their behalf. "The problem is that individual students cannot be members of NZUSA, and the organisation is not directly accountable to them. NZUSA claims to represent all university students, but membership is restricted to presidents of member student associations around the country - or at least the ones who haven't pulled out of NZUSA atogether - and membership of most of these student associations is compulsory."

The practical effect of this, noted Peoples, is that students who vote for other parties and policies, for example members of Young Nats or ACT on Campus, will find that the policies being lobbied for on their behalf are the very same policies they themselves vote against. "And unlike political parties, these students can't just choose not to be represented by NZUSA. Compulsory membership is set up in such a way that there is no way out. Those at the top simply tell the students which political views are good for them, and tertiary students are treated like little kids. Worse still, those at the top who collect the money from the students at the bottom are telling the government that these policies really are supported by all students.

"NZUSA needs to get honest," said Mr Peoples. "They don't speak for all students, and they just have to admit that. They are a lobby group for the political left. They employ the people of the political left. They promote the policies of the political left. University students who don't support the left are misrepresented by NZUSA.

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

ENDS

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