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Waikato University Referendum Undemocratic

Waikato University Referendum Undemocratic and Biased

Student Choice Press Release


"The referendum on compulsory membership of a student union at Waikato University this week is blatantly undemocratic and biased. In a hasty decision last Wednesday, the Waikato University Council decided to hold a three day referendum during study week when few students will be on campus."

"The timing of this is appalling, students have had no warning, can only vote if they happen to come onto campus and see a polling booth as most will not be informed that a vote is even on. This is a recipe for a low voter turnout, the only groups that have been informed of the vote are those who support compulsory membership which means that thousands of students won't get a say and the outcome will be dictated by a minority."

"On an issue of human rights like the right to freely associate and to not be compelled to join an association (Article 20 of the International Declaration of Human Rights), it is abhorrent that this issue is even being subjected to a majoritarian decision. No one should be forced to join a political association against their will, yet thousands of students won't even have a say and may have to suffer a compulsory fee increase next year of up to $100."

"Waikato University students have already voted three times in favour of Voluntary Membership, in 1996, 97, 99. Each of these votes was well advertised in advance, held during term time, both sides of the debate were informed, the issues on both sides were hashed out in the public arena and each of the three votes attracted a record voter turnout. To suggest that a large mandate can be overturned in secret, by a handful of people during study week is absurd."

"A Waikato University student approached Student Choice today with a complaint about the timing of the referendum and the conduct of the Waikato Students' Union President Pita Cammock. The student asked her president when the referendum was going to be held, Mr Cammock replied that it was confidential information and would not tell her even though she was a member of the union."

"In addition, the New Zealand University Students Union (NZUSA) is assisting the referendum despite the fact that its own constitution forbids it to interfere in campus politics."

"The referendum should be called off, it is undemocratic and biased The University and the Waikato Students' Union know it, and they should listen to the voice of their own constituents that has spoken three times already on this issue. It appears that they will only accept a mandate from the student body if it is the one they want them to choose. The University Council, NZUSA and the Waikato Students' Union has as much respect for the democratic process as Slobodan Milosivich."

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Madeleine Flannagan is the regional representative for Student Choice and former 1999 Waikato Students' Union Vice President. She can be contacted on 09 836 7884


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