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Friday, 1 May 2009

Compulsory Membership of Student Associations Has to End

VUWSA (the Victoria University of Wellington Students Association) are at it again. Just last week David Farrar slammed them for their intended ANZAC day flag burning protest and this week they put Dave Crampton on notice for defamation and then retracted it at the 11th hour confessing that it was them at fault.

I wouldn’t have a problem with these acts if they were just voicing their own left-wing pacifist opinions or wasting their own money on hiring lawyers to draft letters in the pursuit of frivolous and vexatious lawsuits but they are not. When they do these things they are doing so on behalf of every single student at the University of Victoria; they are paying for these things out of the pockets of every single student at the University of Victoria.

There is no way every single student (and I’m confident that I remain on safe ground even if I invoke the majority) support flag burning protests being carried out at ANZAC day memorial parades or frivolous and vexatious law suits enacted purely to shut down criticism of those with different political views than their own. I am certain that had VUWSA asked students to voluntarily donate money for such activities they would not have raised any where near enough to fund them.

The current National government, despite the fact that they did attempt to fix this last time they were in office (but their then coalition partner, New Zealand First, messed it up), do not have a voluntary student membership and funding bill even planned. Worse, they do not even see it as a priority or properly understand the extent and nature of the problem.

The relevant bits in the New Zealand Bill of Rights are:

13 Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief, including the right to adopt and to hold opinions without interference.

Being forced to join and fund a political organisation that routinely expresses contrary viewpoints to your own, on your behalf and in your name, violates section 13.

17 Freedom of association

Everyone has the right to freedom of association.

Being forced to join and fund a political organisation in order to obtain an education violates section 17.

[Compulsory membership and funding also violates discrimination laws but as these are not human rights, despite the fact they are found in the Bill of Rights, I will not list them. The above real human rights are more than adequate.]

For a brief overview as to some of what proponents of compulsory student associations have done to Matt and I see:

Studying at Otago University no Riot
Go on and Rubberneck

For further reading see:

VUWSA's ANZAC Charade Is More Student Association Misrepresentation
Student Choice

If you wish to do more than read you could always email Anne Tolley (Minister of Tertiary Education) and Wayne Mapp (Minister of Defence and Associate Minister of Tertiary Education).

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