The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) has sent a letter to OUSA in response to its decision to “reallocate” the $22,500 it owes to NZUSA. The letter requests that OUSA pay the fee, which is the second half of its $45,000 membership for 2015.
At the end of last year, OUSA decided to withdraw its membership from NZUSA. However, the NZUSA constitution requires a one-year withdrawal period in which the yearly $45,000 must be paid. OUSA paid the first half of the fee earlier this year, but the executive recently decided it was in students’ best interest to reallocate the second $22,500.
The letter, signed by NZUSA President Rory McCourt, says OUSA has “failed to provide a proposal for alternative allocation of the levy promised at the 13 April National Executive Meeting”. It further outlines NZUSA’s intention to “invoice OUSA for the second instalment” as per their “normal invoicing processes”.
Hunt has said OUSA’s decision to not pay the fee and instead reallocate the funds “won’t change”. He also argues that OUSA would spend the money more effectively than NZUSA. “When you are on the ground communicating with students every day, you know their concerns, their priorities, and you can make resource allocation decisions in a way that you know will work, and we will do so better than a body in Wellington that is not in contact with students regularly.”
On top of the decision not to pay the $22,500, OUSA has voiced a wish for NZUSA to be wound up permanently. “The conversation on how to best represent the student voice needs to happen outside of the NZUSA’s structures and, as long as NZUSA continues to exist, that conversation is impossible to have,” said Hunt.
NZUSA, however, says it is “disappointed” that OUSA has expressed a desire for the association to end, “especially with such little communication between [OUSA’s] former and current presidents and the National Executive on these issues”.
Hunt believes there “is some place for a mechanism to represent students nationally … We don’t disagree with that.” However, “[OUSA] just thinks the structure of NZUSA is not the right one.”
“It is the fundamental nature of having a centralised body in Wellington [that OUSA disagrees with]; we would prefer to see a model that was more nimble, that involved all of the student associations’ presidents at one table and meeting regularly, rather than giving a lump sum to two people to do all the work.”