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September 28, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

President’s column


Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill

Last Wednesday parliament voted Roger Douglas’ Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill through to the select committee stage following its first reading.
The Bill was drawn from the ballot in August, and aims to “uphold students’ right to freedom of association, by ensuring that no student is compelled to join a students’ association.”

Students’ associations maintain that the choice of whether or not an association is ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’ should be up to the will of the students, not to the whims of parliament.

Under the current system, a students’ association can be ‘opt in’ (or voluntary) if students at that institution want it to be. That is, if 10 percent of students sign a petition requesting that a referendum be held, with a majority of students in the referendum voting in favour of a ‘opt in’ system.

A student initiated referenda took place at Victoria in 1999, and was overwhelmingly defeated. Voluntary student membership has jeopardized the quality of student support and services in Australia recently, and supporting such legislation in New Zealand would be a huge step backwards.

Over the coming weeks the VUWSA will make available information to students and other interested parties concerning how to make a submission on the Bill. VUWSA encourage all students and student groups to submit on the Bill.

This Monday the VUWSA and the Victoria University of Wellington Debating Society are hosting a debate on this important issue. We encourage all interested students to attend the debate.

Event: The Voluntary Student Membership Public Debate
When: Monday 28 September, 6.30pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, Old Government Buildings, Pipitea Campus

Thursdays in Black National Day of Action

This Thursday is the Thursdays in Black National Day of Action.

The VUWSA has facilitated the Thursdays in Black campaign since the mid 1990s, in conjunction with the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).

Every Thursday people around the world are invited to wear black as a symbol of strength and courage, representing our solidarity with victims of violence, and demanding a world without rape and violence.

Wearing black on Thursday’s indicates that you are tired of putting up with rape and violence in your community. It demonstrates a desire for a community where we can all walk safely without fear of being beaten up, verbally abused, raped, or being discriminated against due to sexual orientation, political affiliation, gender or ethnicity.

This week the VUWSA and the Women’s Group are hosting a gig in order to raise awareness of the issues highlighted by the campaign.

Event: Thursdays in Black National Day of Action
When: Thursday 1 October, 8pm
Venue: San Francisco Bathhouse, Cuba Street

Boyd Wilson Field upgrade

The VUWSA is currently consulting students over a proposal to develop the Boyd Wilson Field, located below the Te Puni Village student accommodation complex. The proposal is to develop the Field into an all-year and all-weather training ground with an artificial surface, as extensive investigation has discounted any natural alternatives. It is proposed that this will involve spending accumulated student money held by the VUWSA Trust (VUWSAT), along with user charges on regular users. Timetabling for casual use will be maintained.

Last week, VUWSAT Chair Alistair Shaw addressed a Student Representative Council (SRC) meeting as part of the consultation process concerning the upgrade. Student Union Complex Manager Rainsforth Dix and I are currently working on a survey to be sent to students in order to receive feedback on the proposal. A joint VUWSA-University forum will be hosted this week on the topic, as detailed below:

Event: Boyd Wilson Field Student Consultation Forum
When: Tuesday 29 September, 5.30pm
Venue: Memorial Theatre Foyer, Student Union Building

Reminder to vote for your student representatives

Voting in the VUWSA General Elections is an opportunity for you to have your say on who should be on the VUWSA Executive for 2010. The student representative on University Council and student representatives on Publications Committee are also elected as part of the election. The students’ association encourages you to exercise your democratic right by voting in the election.

Voting is simple, and only takes about 90 seconds of your time. Voting instructions are presented below.

Voting electronically

Last Thursday morning all students were sent an e-mail inviting you to follow a link and vote in the election. You will need to enter your student ID number, the pin number supplied, and your date of birth. You can then cast your vote electronically for your preferred candidates.

If you haven’t received an e-mail yet, please contact the Returning Officer.

Online voting commenced last week. You can vote online up until 4.30pm on Wednesday 30 September.

Voting at polling booths

Alternatively, you can cast your vote in person at a polling booth.

When: 24 -25 and 28-30 September, 12-2pm
Venue: Kelburn: Library Foyer

When: 24-25, 28-30 September, 12-2pm
Venue: Pipitea: Outside VUWSA’s Pipitea Office, Ground Floor, Room 8, Government Buildings

When: 30 September, 12-2pm
Venue: Karori: Student Common Room, Tennant Block

Paper ballots

The option of casting a paper ballot is also available.

When: 24-30 September, 12-1pm
Venue: VUWSA’s Kelburn Office, Ground Floor, Student Union Building

In solidarity and service,



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