OUSA and VUWSA Hit With NZUSA Bill

Board Members Probably Won't Sue Themselves

A fter its withdrawal application last November, OUSA has received a bill from NZUSA (the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations) for $22,500. The bill, which is half of the 2015 membership fee, was also sent to the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA).

According to NZUSA President, Rory McCourt, NZUSA’s constitution “states that there is a one year withdrawal period.” OUSA and VUWSA are “still technically members” of NZUSA for the year following their withdrawal application, so they are still required to front up their membership fees.

However, “[NZUSA’s] constitution is vague on whether [the withdrawal period] runs until the end of the calendar year, or whether it’s just until the point where they’ve given notice,” said McCourt. NZUSA is currently seeking legal advice, following a request to do so from VUWSA.

VUWSA President Rick Zwaan said the executive is “still debating how [to] approach” the situation: “We’re getting advice as to what we can do in this case … It’s the general feeling of the executive that we don’t think it’s the best use of our students’ money, that’s the same sentiment that we shared when we withdrew last year.”

Zwaan said VUWSA feels that the bill is “an unreasonable” way “to spend students’ money,” given that they “indicated that [VUWSA] want to withdraw immediately from NZUSA in September last year.”

OUSA has already paid half of the sum ($11,250) — though it will discuss whether to pay the full amount. OUSA President Paul Hunt said this decision is “entirely up to the executive.”

“I think there’s a case that we should keep some of the money to spend on our own political lobbying; given that we think NZUSA isn’t that great, we think the money could be better spent on our own campaigns,” said Hunt.

In regards to whether NZUSA will take legal action against either association if they refuse to pay the full sum, Zwaan said that’s something that VUWSA is carefully taking into consideration. “I don’t think it’s a good look [for NZUSA],” he said, adding, “it seems pretty unreasonable and out of the scope of NZUSA to be spending time and money waging legal wars to extract money out of an association that has indicated that they don’t want to be involved in it.”

Hunt believes NZUSA will put forward an argument as to why the two associations are liable to pay, but whether they take legal action is to be decided: “I would be surprised if they took legal action against an association given they claim to represent and help those associations. It wouldn’t be very helpful to those associations if you took them to court.”

McCourt said any legal action would be entirely up to the NZUSA Board, of which Zwaan and Hunt are currently members.
This article first appeared in Issue 2, 2015.
Posted 6:26pm Sunday 1st March 2015 by Laura Munro.