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Results Demonstrate Compulsory Unionism Farce

Student Association Election Results Demonstrate the Farce of Compulsory Unionism

"Today’s Otago University Students Association (OUSA) election result once again exposed compulsory student union membership for the farce that it is." Matthew Flannagan, interim National Spokesperson for Student Choice said today.

"Steven Sutton was today elected as OUSA President for 2005 with 1802 votes. Otago University has approximately 20,000 enrolled students. Today’s results suggest that less than 10% have indicated support for the current President, close to 85% of students have so little interest in OUSA that they chose to not even vote."

"This is not an atypical result. Student presidents are frequently elected in by as little as 5% of the student body. In many incorporated societies such results would barely constitute a quorum. OUSA should be up front and honest that its core political activities are something few students support or are interested in and the only reason it can even pretend to represent Otago students is because they are forced to join OUSA if they want an Otago degree." Mr Flannagan stated.

"In campaign material President-elect Steven Sutton has claimed that without compulsory membership OUSA would be unable to provide the current services it does - although models of Voluntary membership at Auckland and Waikato refute this claim. This is a stark admission on Mr Sutton’s part that the student body, if given a choice, would not in fact choose to support the services OUSA provide, so valued by students as he personally asserts they are."

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"The current system of compulsory membership allows a small minority of students to play at politics with millions in cash provided by a majority to whom they are irrelevant. The extreme opposition of student politicians to giving their constituents a choice to join a union demonstrates their understanding that students as a whole do not support them."

"This facade cannot continue indefinitely. Greg Langton's election as President of AUSA, the number of pro-choice executive membership elected to VUWSA, the no confidence victory at Canterbury when students were offered only pro-compulsory candidates, and the OUSA elections where a-typically large proportion of the candidates who came forward were independently pro-voluntary. Add to this the numerous student associations threatening to withdraw from NZUSA and a picture of dissatisfaction is emerging with the status quo.

As long as compulsory membership is retained, real reform is impossible. If the only way student associations can get support of students is by coercion, student associations will continue to remain out of touch with the vast majority of their membership."

"Student associations should only exist if students want them to. If students, given the choice, are not interested in supporting them, then they serve no purpose. Continuing to have access to the student loans and wallets of all students when evidence of lack of interest and support from the student body is so blatant is unjust."

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

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