Mike Heine’s Blog On the Right, explains how voluntary student unionism was overturned at Waikato University recently
“Last week the students at Waikato University were forced to return to compulsory membership of the student union. Voluntary membership had been in place since 1996 and had been voted for at referenda every year since. At the most recent referendum before last week’s one, in 1999, 33 percent of the University voted and the result was overwhelmingly in favour of voluntary membership. Other referenda had voter turnouts of between 25 and 33 percent.
Last week, 10.5 percent of the campus voted. Most people were at home on their study break before exams.
Now here’s another question for those of you playing at home:
if the Government decided to hold an election and
– they decided to hold it the following day
– it was the summer holidays, the least likely time that people will be in their electorates
– no other parties got the opportunity to put their view across to the voters
– the election was run by supporters of the Government
– only 10.5 percent of the country voted
would you deem the election to be fair and democratic?
Well, that’s exactly what the students at Waikato had to go through last week.
In addition, at a meeting of pro-compulsory groups and people, including Vice-Chancellor Bryan Gould, it was decided that if the result came out compulsory, then the WSU President would become the student representative on the university council. This will be instead of the duly elected candidate, M. Forbes, who achieved more than twice the support from voters than the three WSU executive members earlier in the year.
Compulsory supporters claim that by not having a WSU member on the council means that the student representative could vote blatantly against the student’s wishes and not be stopped. That is a remarkable statement to make given that the WSU is quashing the student’s wishes in removing the democratically-elected representative and replacing him with one of their own – a person who has also gone against her own constitution which says the Union must campaign for voluntary membership.”
This kind of scenario is common on university campuses. There is a lot at stake here. Some student unions have multi million dollar budgets and are often seen by the media as representative of student opinion. Student executives are often elected by fewer than 10% of eligible voters. They are more often than not dominated by socialists who then dish out huge amounts of student’s money to their pet causes.
Just as voluntary unionism greatly improved NZ’s industrial environment, so universal voluntary student unionism would vastly improve campus life.