NZUSA: Um, no, fuck off
The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) and VUWSA have again found themselves at loggerheads, this time over the future of the New Zealand student movement.
VUWSA, which intends to withdraw from NZUSA this September, wrote to NZUSA President Rory McCourt on 17 June. In that letter, VUWSA said it intended to withhold its remaining NZUSA membership fees of around $11,000, and to spend this figure on a VUWSA-hosted national conference to “flesh out the overall vision for the future of the national student voice”.
In response to VUWSA’s letter, which NZUSA members widely viewed as an unsubtle power-grab, McCourt proposed that the conference be held in Christchurch and hosted by LUSA, of Lincoln University, and UCSA, of Canterbury.
McCourt also rejected VUWSA’s proposal to spend its NZUSA levies on the conference, telling VUWSA that the levies were needed to cover essential operational costs.
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As Salient went to print on Thursday, VUWSA Academic Vice-President Jonathan Gee and Education Officer Ellen Humphries had drafted a response to the response (sigh).
They wrote that it was important that NZUSA “not seen to be controlling this open discussion” and proposed that VUWSA, not UCSA, co-host the conference with LUSA—despite the two associations inhabiting different islands.
The letter also reiterated VUWSA’s wish to have its remaining NZUSA levies go toward the conference, and not to NZUSA itself.
The letters follow months of brinkmanship between NZUSA, VUWSA, and Otago association OUSA over membership fees. VUWSA and OUSA, which both gave 12-month notices of their withdrawal from NZUSA last year, have resisted paying their 2015 levies. The associations only brought themselves up to date with payments in June after NZUSA threatened legal action.
OUSA in particular has been openly hostile toward NZUSA. According to Critic magazine, OUSA has now refused point-blank to pay its remaining $20,000 or so levies for 2015, despite the organisation having around $6 million in reserves.
McCourt said he had received a “bizarre” letter from OUSA asking the national body to wind up.
McCourt told Salient he “[doesn’t] know what VUWSA’s motivations are” and accused VUWSA of failing to earn its desired leadership role.
“To have a leadership role, VUWSA’s got to be engaged,” he said. “That’s how you get the respect from other members to lead them.”
He said that when it came to the national student movement, VUWSA seemed more interested in internal politics than with genuine issues.
“[VUWSA’s] got very strong views on the national student voice but are doing nothing about it … everyone’s getting really tired of it.
“It’s completely childish and people have lost all sense of perspective.”