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NZUSA misrepresentation fuelled support for vsm

NZUSA misrepresentation fuelled support for vsm

Media release: Student Choice, 5 August 2011

Years of misrepresentation by NZUSA contributed to increased support for voluntary student membership and helped to convince students that compulsory membership was a fundamentally flawed system.

Instead of blaming others for the introduction of vsm, NZUSA should look at its own behaviour. Over the last 30 years NZUSA became addicted to the easy money delivered by compulsory membership. Compulsory membership allowed the association to become disconnected from students and created a sense of entitlement among student politicians.

Despite short periods of reform, NZUSA became a sandpit where aspiring politicians could use other people’s money to push their personal agendas. NZUSA didn’t have to worry about the interests of the bulk of the students because compulsory membership meant that funding was guaranteed regardless of performance.

The disconnection from students fuelled a sense of arrogance at NZUSA. Only one set of political views were deemed acceptable, and students who didn’t share those views were treated with contempt. NZUSA arrogantly presented itself as a group that spoke for “all students”.

When the voluntary membership movement emerged in the 1990s NZUSA failed to pick up on the signals and failed to become a more accountable organisation. Instead it moved even closer to the political parties —Labour, the Alliance, the Greens—that also benefited from compulsory membership. NZUSA became increasingly hostile to parties of the centre-right and in doing so alienated the students who voted for those parties.

So while compulsory membership was a source of easy money it ultimately weakened NZUSA because the organisation was able to exist without engaging the very people it claimed to represent.

ends

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