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Why not universal freedom of association?

Universal student allowances? Why not universal freedom of association?

Student Choice, 13 October 2008

Today the New Zealand Union of Students Associations claimed that "hundreds of thousands of students" are welcoming the news of a universal student allowance.

While such hyperbole is nothing new, it is pathetic that the media have reprinted these claims without any analysis whatsoever, Student Choice spokesman Mike Heine said today.

What the media ignores time and again is that the vast majority of students in New Zealand are forced to pay a membership fee to their local student union, who then channel large amounts of this money to NZUSA. Any claim from this group that they represent so many students, many of whom are either unwilling to join or unaware of its existence, is therefore morally bankrupt.

What is worse is that various media outlets have published their comments and portrayed these as the views of all students. No single group, Student Choice included, can claim to represent such a large and diverse group. No effort, however, has been made by media to hear any dissenting student views.

The fact that students everywhere are forced to pay large sums of money to student unions, so they can make various outlandish statements on our behalf, is the worst thing of all. There are many arguments for and against universal allowances - but what cannot be argued is that students do not speak with one voice. Not on this issue, not on any issue.

Political parties and the media must wake up to this simple fact and question why students are forced to fund these doctrinal lobby groups. The government abolished compulsory trade unionism for this reason a long time ago. It is time students were given the same human rights as the rest of society.

Student Choice promotes freedom of association through voluntary membership of student associations.

ENDS

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