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September 6, 2010 | by  | in News |
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OUSA to set $90,000 on fire. Maybe.

The Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) intends to put its ongoing membership of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) in the hands of its members.

In 2010 OUSA paid $86,169 in membership fees to NZUSA. The fees go towards national representation of students, advocacy of tertiary education issues and lobbying in Parliament. In the revised 2011 OUSA Budget, the NZUSA budget line has been increased to $90,939.

In the first draft of next year’s budget, the NZUSA budget line had been reduced to $0, clearly indicating OUSA’s intentions towards NZUSA. However, at the budget-setting meeting, OUSA voted to increase the line 5.5 percent in 2011 to allow for inflation, and an increase in OUSA members. It was also decided that the question of OUSA’s membership of NZUSA would be put to a student referendum.

The OUSA exec was evenly split on the issue. Humanities Rep Walker MacMurdo advocated putting the decision to the students.

Last year’s Finance and Services Officer Mike Bridges, who was sitting in on the meeting, asserted that this was a massive and complex decision which the exec was best informed to make.

It was decided that the exec should inform the students about the issue, and ask them to weigh in.

OUSA President Harriet Geoghegan could not comment on the decision, stating that she was not present at the meeting. It is unclear when the referendum will be held.

The University of Canterbury Students’ Association (UCSA) has pulled out of NZUSA on the grounds of “contractual breaches”. NZUSA accepted UCSA’s decision as valid.

No one on the OUSA exec has gone on the record to give Critic a clear indication as to why it should no longer be a part of NZUSA. There is a feeling that for the same amount of money OUSA could more effectively lobby the government itself.

NZUSA currently requires 12 months’ notice prior to universities withdrawing their membership.

OUSA is attempting to change the constitution to require only three months notice. OUSA is confident that the notice period would not change their budget, as NZUSA tends not to follow up payments during the year’s notice.

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