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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 1. 1965.

Fees — Students' Association


Students' Association

Hunter Building, V.U.W.

Hunter Building, V.U.W.

Spencer Digby photo.

Late last year a Special General Meeting of the Students' Association voted to increase the Students' Association fee from £5/5/- to £8/10/-.

The meeting was acting within the rules of incorporation of the Assocation as an incorporated society. The rules provide that 50 or more students may hold a Special General Meeting which may, inter alia, determine the sum to be collected as the Students' Association fee.

The majority at the meeting voted for the increased fee which was to be utilised along the following lines: £1/10/- to the Association's Building Fund (to pay for additions to the Students' Association Building), 10/- to purchase real-estate (specifically a 21-bed hostel, Kensington House, in Newtown); 10/- to the Association's Student Union Building Maintenance Fund; 10/- to the Salient General Account.

This procedure, however, does not automatically provide that the sum voted by the Special General Meeting will be the collected sum, for authority to collect the Students' Association fee is vested in the University; S. 49 of the Victoria University of Wellington Act 1961 provides that—

"The Council shall have power to impose and collect from time to time from students of the University or from any of them such fees as it considers reasonable for the benefit of any association or organisation of students of the University, and to dispose of those fees accordingly."

Accordingly, the University Council considered the proposed increased fee in the light of representations made by various Students' Association Executive members. Council then declined to sanction the full fee increase, resolving to collect this year a for of £6, which is 15/- more than last year's fee.

This sum of £6 is to be utilised as follows: £2/10/- to the Association's General Account; £1/10/- to the Student Union Building Fund; £1 to the Students' Association Trust account to be administered by the Students' Association Executive; 10/- to the Salient general account.

Numerous people sought to question the validity of the Council's actions. They claim that the students ought to be unfettered when determining their own Association fee. It would seem, how-ever, that despite these people's misgivings, a built-in check such as that exercised by Council is reasonable and desirable.

If no such check existed. 50 enterprising students could hold a Special General Meeting and raise the fee to, say, £200 per student. The only way to redeem the situation would be for 50 or more students to lower it again. This could, of course, usually be done easily. If, however, the enterprising students raised the fee on the last day on which, according to the constitution, a Special General Meeting can be held, then nothing could be done to lower the fee until the following year.

These theoretical actions represent a reductio ad absurdem of a hypothetical situation. Nevertheless it shows the need—even if it is never used—for a check in the fee-determining mechanism. And Council would seem the logical body to apply the check.

Given this, however, it is quite another consideration altogether whether or not Council acted wisely in this case. This is the subject of articles elsewhere in this issue.