Sunday, March 01, 2009

Time to set students free

Clint Heine blogs about the next attempt to free membership of student unions from the absurd half-arsed legislation at the moment, whereby the majority of those who vote to compel all others to join a student union, regardless of whether or not that association represents their values.

It is a very simple issue, one that so clearly out the "we know what's best for you" authoritarian bullying of so many on the left. It is violence of a quite sinister kind to say you can't buy education from a university, without joining an organisation that does nothing that interests you and which represents the opposite of your views. However, I guess given that student unions have so often been the training grounds for Labour and Green party MPs, kind of makes it ok to force everyone to belong right?

Those that proclaim freedom of association suddenly go "oh um student unions are different". They argue "student unions provide lots of services for students", which of course you could say about ALL unions, or indeed most voluntary associations. The student union could simply exclude participation from those who aren't members, it's not that hard, and hardly an excuse to force people to belong to something they don't want to join. They argue "students advocate for students", which surely should be up to students. I could argue Libertarianz advocates for all individuals. Communist parties claim to represent all workers. The Maori Party no doubt claims to look after the interests of Maori.

Student unions could be organisations that provide facilities for students and advocate for them at the university, and make life at university more interesting. Most do some of that, but they also become rallying points for left wing activists. I was sick of student unions claiming to represent my views when they never did - they got 10% of students voting, and were chronic mismanagers of other people's money.

However, none of that actually matters. What matters is that you are not forced to join an association if you don't want to. Student unions should have to convince people to join them, not force them.

If you can't understand why force is wrong, then maybe I should take some money off you once a year, and tell you that you've joined an organisation you didn't want to join, and that it now represents you.

ACT'S Voluntary Student Membership Bill should be supported as government policy.

I did ask a while ago that all National candidates should be asked whether or not they support voluntary membership of university student unions.

ACT's bill will be a perfect way to out those National MPs who are lily livered wimps, that don't believe in freedom of association. Which is why John Key should declare it is party policy - let those who don't support it show themselves. Let's hope I am wrong, and none exist, after all, what better way to undermine one of the best force funded training schools of the Labour Party than to stop making students pay for them if they don't want to.

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