The news that a select committee has recommended that student associations be voluntary has not surprisingly been greeted with dismay by association members.
“They have not listened to the voice of students. Overwhelmingly, students did not want it,” Otago Polytechnic Students Association (OPSA) Meegan Cloughley said.
Otago University Students Association (OUSA) Harriet Geoghegan said for the opposition to changes “to be ignored is quite astounding”. . .
. . . New Zealand University Students’ Association co-president David Do said evidence in Australia and New Zealand showed the Bill would destroy student representation and welfare provision, and put student-owned services such as Student Job Search at risk.
Student life, events such as Orientation, clubs, and sports would be at risk, and institutions and Government would face extra new costs, he said.
The student association I know most about is OUSA which does provide a lot of services for its members. It’s also one of the most financially sound and among its assets is the UBS, one of the country’s best bookshops.
If that or any other assets OUSA owns and services it provides are under threat from voluntary membership the association needs to ask if it really give students the benefits, and value for money, it says it does.
If students overwhelmingly don’t want voluntary membership it should bring little change because they’ll all sign up anyway. If they don’t, the associations will have to earn the support which they now get through compulsion.
Instead of seeing VSM as a threat to their viability, student associations should regard it as an opportunity to prove their worth.