Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Issue 8. April 1976]
Student Power ~ Economy Size
Student Power ~ Economy Size
Those people around in 1974 will remember the farce of the National Union of Students proposals put forward that year. The plan then was to merge the three student organisations, NZUSA, STANZ (student teachers), and NZTISA (technical institute students).
The whole affair verged on being a debacle, with the only progress (sic) being the formation of a working party to discuss the whole affair.
The working party was also less then successful. Any progress that might have been made was forestalled by the withdrawal of the STANZ delegation. Out of the working party came a 12-page report from its chairman, John Blincoe, which was considered by the national executive of NZUSA in February.
After considering the report John Blincoe was asked to go away and come down with his own view as to how a National Union of Students could operate and this was tabled at the April meeting of the national executive.
The outline given below is taken from the paper.
These would be the supreme governing bodies, making policy and giving the NUS its direction. They would be held in May and August. Voting at the councils would be proportional to the number of members in each Association, although each body would have a minimum number of votes as of right.
Because of the large number of constituents expected it would not be possible to have direct representation from each Association. The composition of the national executive would be six regional representatives, as well as the elected officers, (see diagram).
There would be three regional councils. Northern, Central, and Southern. The work of these regional councils would be to co-ordinate the work of NUS in the region, foster regional cooperation; elect two regional representatives to the national executive, and to elect a regional organiser.
Each region would have a full time, paid regional organiser. This person would be elected by the regional councils, he would be paid by and be an officer of NUS. This officer would be ultimately responsible to councils but usually would report to the regional councils.
There would be 10 full time paid political officers: President, Deputy President, International Vice President, Education Vice President, Teacher Trainee Organiser all of whom would.be elected. There would be two research officers one dealing with general research topics and one specifically in the field of education. There would also be three regional organisers elected by the regions.
These officers would be split up into three departments of Education, International and the Presidential office. The effect of the increase in officers is to provide adequate servicing of the regions as well as to give recognition to the special needs of some constituents through a Trainee Teacher organiser.
Assuming that there was a total membership of somewhere around 50-60,000 fulltime students, then a levy of $2 per head per annum should suffice.
This concept attempts to accomodate two major tensions in an NUS concept - regionalism and sectionalism. The National Executive would be regionally based, with three of the five national officers being assigned to the regions. On the other hand the Councils - the supreme governing body - would be constituent based.
As John Blincoe stated the purpose of the proposals was to act as a model upon which people might hang their thoughts. However, while the concept recognises the regional needs of students it puts a barrier in the way of effective student representation.
The establishment of regional councils and a National executive made up of elected officers and regional representatives means that ordinary students are four steps away from the national office, except at council meetings (only two per year).
The growth of such a large and removed bureaucracy only adds to the problems that exist now within student representatives are too far apart.
It is essential that students are able to be as close as possible to the regular decision making areas like the national executive. To leave the representation of student views in the hands of regional councils and regional representatives means that these views can go through several distortion processes before they even reach the national executive.
The other problem with the regional councils is that they are envisaged to be reasonably informal affairs, which would meet about a week before the main executive would meet.
Such a system gives no time for student to even know what is coming up on the agenda let alone formulate some views on the matter.
With such a large set up as outlined the charge of jobs for the boys would assume a greater measure of truth than it does now. It virtually requires that anybody who wishes to become involved in national student politics would be forced to serve an apprenticeship in local student politics.
Although to a certain extent that is now the case it is still possible for an ordinary student having had little or no experience in local student affairs to become an office holder in NZUSA'
The proposed structure is too bureaucratic and distant for my liking. Lack of space precludes any great analysis of the proposals. These general comments are only some that have come to mind and which have been raised by a few people.
However, the final arbiters of the scheme for a National Union of Students will be students and it is important that they discuss these and any other schemes for any merging of tertiary students in this country.