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July 23, 2018 | by  | in News | [ssba]

NZUSA Begs For Money

In its latest bid to keep its struggling finances afloat, New Zealand Union of Students’ Association is asking alumni for donations.
NZUSA President Jonathan Gee said that the organization is facing a “financial and political cross-road”. He said that “without this support there is a risk that students around New Zealand could be silenced in the national political debate”.

NZUSA does advocacy and lobbying for the national student body. Victories for the NZUSA this year include the lift to the student loan cap, fees free first year (which NZUSA have been campaigning for some time), and a $50 increase in student allowance.
It’s unconfirmed as to whether any alumni have donated. NZUSA boasts of many high profile alumni, such as Labour MPs Hon Grant Robertson, Hon Andrew Little, and Wellington Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons.
Rick Zwaan, 2015 VUWSA president, said that he hadn’t been asked for any donations. He said “we need a strong national student voice”, and he supports any moves to strengthen that voice.
Fitzsimons said she hasn’t come across a request for donations, but she would consider such a request “favourably”.
“NZUSA has such a proud tradition of achieving results for students,” she said.
2003 NZUSA co-president Rosalind Connelly said that she hasn’t been asked for donations, either. She said she wouldn’t necessarily donate. “I do love NZUSA, and I think it’s a critical advocacy vehicle for students,” she said. But she believes that they need to move towards a sustainable financial model.

“Asking alumni for donations is a stop-gap measure at best.”
NZUSA Finance Manager, Caitlin Barlow-Groome, has also confirmed that NZUSA is “looking into” liquidating their assets, which includes their central Wellington office.

In February, Alistair Shaw, the Executive Director of NZUSA, resigned. He had accrued “significant” leave entitlements that needed to be paid out.
In May, NZUSA asked its member student associations to pay half of next year’s fees in advance, citing their “precarious” financial situation. VUWSA voted to pay their $22,750, with the criteria that “certain expectations” be met by NZUSA. The wording of the motion did not include what these expectations are, and since VUWSA discussed these expectations in committee, they can’t be reported here.
NZUSA is currently undergoing an internally-conducted review. They’re getting oversight from the National Board (which includes presidents from various student associations, who are members of NZUSA), and getting input and advice from local associations and various stakeholders.
Marlon said that “the last few months should not define an organisation that has existed for almost 90 years to serve students. We are going through a difficult period however, during these tough times we must remember the important work that has been achieved to make a difference to students’ lives”.

Gee said that he has continued to advance the student agenda, while “managing this difficult situation”.
“We will continue to work hard to ensure we are fighting for students right ‘til the very end.”


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