Calls For Voluntary Student Association Membership
Fraud More Reason For Voluntary Student Association Membership
Hon Heather Roy, ACT Deputy
Monday, June 29 2009
ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader Heather Roy today reiterated her call for student association membership to be made voluntary, following an article in the 'Press' newspaper that a woman has been jailed for 22 months after defrauding the Christchurch Polytechnic Students' Association (CPSA) of $175,000 - $125,000 of which was unrecoverable.
"With students forced to pay association fees, these organisations have pools of cash and little accountability when it comes to managing those funds - making it easy for individuals to use the money for their own means," Mrs Roy said.
"According to the 'Press' other incidents over the years include:
'December 1999 - Brendan McQuillan, president of Nelson Polytechnic Student Association, admitted stealing $8,004. November 2003 - Florence bailey, office manager of Massey Students Association, jailed for two years and three months after stealing $203,000. November 2005 - Victoria University Maori Student Association treasurer Wi Nepia jailed for stealing $161,000. 2005 - Otago University's Te Roopu Maori, the Maori students' association collapsed amid allegations of financial impropriety. Estimated fraud $21,000. April 2007 - Clelia Opie, officer of Victoria University Students' Association, spends $6,000 on phone calls.'
"Student associations are one of only a few organisations in New Zealand that can compel membership. This compulsion results in a guaranteed stream of income, with a seeming lack of accountability to properly manage the pool of money it creates.
"Misuse of funds in a voluntary organisation would result in a loss of confidence by members in the executive. But in student organisations, despite frequent fraud and theft, students are still forced to pay union fees whether they want to or not. Student associations are also often plagued by accusations of advocating only the views of their executives rather than those of their wider memberships.
"During the last Parliamentary session, I had a Private Members Bill in the ballot to amend this and make student association membership voluntary. Unfortunately it was not drawn from the ballot and students are paying the price.
"We allow students to choose what university or polytechnic they attend, and what papers to take - it's time we gave them the freedom to choose whether or not to join their local student association rather than forcing them to pay a union fee if they want to study," Mrs Roy said.