The Otago University Student’s Association (OUSA) may vote to pull out of the New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA) as early as April.
An anonymous tip-off has led Otago student magazine Critic to believe there are at least six OUSA executive members who are keen to pull out of NZUSA, and this faction may propose a motion to give immediate notice to NZUSA of their withdrawal as early as the next executive meeting.
OUSA President Paul Chong says relationships with NZUSA are “much the same as they always are … There’s definitely a few things we’d like to work out”. He says he “couldn’t really comment at this stage” on whether OUSA had plans to try and withdraw from NZUSA.
Finance and Services Officer Dan Connor is a known critic of NZUSA, and proposed a motion to pull out of NZUSA at an executive meeting in October last year, which narrowly failed when Paul Chong used his casting vote against the motion. Connor flatly denied the rumour that OUSA was planning to vote on a similar motion, and claims to have no involvement in any plan to propose one. However, he says “there are still some concerns that [OUSA] would like to see addressed [by NZUSA].”
The concerns alluded to by Connor include the marginal benefits OUSA sees itself as gaining from being a member of NZUSA, in exchange for about $70,000 of annual levies; disproportional voting rights; not enough direct control over NZUSA decisions and the dilution of OUSA’s views by smaller students’ associations.
OUSA withdrawing from NZUSA could leave the national organisation in a precarious position. The students’ associations at Auckland and Canterbury Universities are no longer full members of NZUSA and the support of bigger associations like OUSA is crucial to the survival of NZUSA because of the financial support it provides.