Monday, October 05, 2009

Student association membership

With reference to ACT's bill on student membership some students who are supporting voluntary student union membership (VSM ) are annoyed that they have to join a student association and have to pay more than $100 in student association fees for a group they object to be made to join - but will happily utilise their services such as reading student newspapers like Salient and Chaff.

I went to a debate about this last week run by the Victoria University Debating society. Two things were clear. Supporters of VSM are not actually supporters of VSM at all - they are actually opponents of compulsory membership of student associations (CSM). Furthermore the thing they most object to is the fee - which at Massey University is up to $172 depending on courses - with a recreation and building levy n top of that amount.

If CSM opponents are really serious about their right to join associations voluntary, they'd do well to frame it in matters other than the fee they have to pay - and explain how students will be able to freely join if they have to pay this fee up front out of their own pockets, rather than through a student loan initially paid for by the state. As they won't do that, they must be concerned about the fee. If they opt out of student membership they wont have to pay the fee.

All supporters of VSM should have sent applications to opt out of membership.As far as I know, none have tried to opt out. But they will cite mismanagement of student associations as an excuse not to pay the fee, which is of course a different argument to freedom of association.

I have a solution. Why not study at an institution that cuts the fee dramatically. Study extramurally at Massey. You only pay $40 to the student union. It's a pity that some of the VSMers are not as focused on some of discrepancies surrounding fees structures- for example, the student services levy is $104 at Massey this year, but next year Victoria students will be paying $510 - which, unlike student association membership under VSM, will always be able to be paid through a student loan.




Blogger Just my opinion said...

I think a few years ago they did make students pay this out of their own pockets. It got dropped pretty quickly as well.

Err, the process in order to successfully "opt out" isn't as simple as you make it out to be. One needs to put forward one hell of a case to the Association and the University and even then many get rejected. Why go through all that just to then not get any money back? There are no reported cases of anybody being successful in this either - however I have heard some horror stories about people who have tried and failed.

October 5, 2009 at 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,
At least we get services for our money from the student services levy.

October 5, 2009 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Just my opinion said...

At Otago the health and recreation lefy ensures that students get free gym and subsidised healthcare. This isn't under threat and most students know EXACTLY what this is paying for.

Student union levies are so much more complex than that. It still hasn't stopped them regularly raising their own levies either.

October 5, 2009 at 9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simply put the biggest reason CSM exists and therefore the biggest reason to oppose CSM is the political activity of the student associations, typically left wing and another example of where the Labour party sets up its interest groups to be funded with a guaranteed income.

October 6, 2009 at 1:56 AM  
Blogger Ralph said...

Bill should make student run representation and services possible as well as allow students to opt-out easily. This could be done if the institutions continued to collect fees on behalf. But no, the Act Bill asks for opt-in with no support on fee collection from the tert institution. Act is not interested in the needs of students, just it's own idealogy.

October 14, 2009 at 11:05 AM  

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