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Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA) has given notice of withdrawal from the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) which, due to a required one year notice period, would take effect in May 2017.
AUSA’s executive want to withdraw due to frustration that issues that “have been raised time and time again” by AUSA are not being addressed. AUSA President Will Matthews said “we don’t feel the service is worth the substantial levy that we pay.”
Matthews told Salient a big factor in the decision to withdraw is that NZUSA does not engage with or support the unique “Auckland-centric” concerns of AUSA. Instead NZUSA “are mostly engaged in initiatives that apply to students nationally.”
Matthews credited NZUSA for its lobbying of Greens, NZ First, and Labour, and said “I doubt if Labour would have released a three years free policy if there was no NZUSA.” However he wanted NZUSA to “demonstrate that they are also working with our current right wing government to create change” to prove they are worth their membership fee.
AUSA highlighted NZUSA’s inability to make student association members feel part of decision making, and calls for NZUSA to be “a more professional, organised and communicative organisation” and to focus on “listening to members and ensuring that their opinions and voice are reflected in decision making.”
AUSA chose not to put a referendum to its students on the decision to withdraw, as VUWSA did in 2015. “There’s no one way for members to exit NZUSA,” Matthews said, and added that if students disagree with the decision they are welcome to call a Special General Meeting to discuss the issue.
AUSA will review their decision to withdraw at the end of the year. If progress is made Matthews said AUSA can “withdraw our withdrawal” and “jump back into the fold.” If AUSA still want to withdraw, this will pass on to the 2017 executive who would have the option to “validate or reject the withdrawal before it comes into effect.”
“AUSA raises valid concerns about NZUSA creating and communicating real wins for students,” said VUWSA President Jonathan Gee.
“AUSA’s intention by giving notice to withdraw is to start a conversation around how NZUSA can do better. We believe this conversation has already started and this has been a top priority for VUWSA since students voted to stay in NZUSA in last year’s referendum.”
Matthews added, “this is the beginning of the conversation, not the end,” in regard to the intricate and complex pull out method.