The first high-profile casualty of voluntary student membership is broadcasting ambient noise in protest.
It looks likely that long-standing student radio station – Radio One – is for the chop. There’s a Facebook fightback going on as proactive supporters get their message across: a ‘Save Radio One’ page. When I signed soon after launch yesterday there were over 600 ‘likes’ already. Tonight there’s over 2100.
Radio One has served, not only students, but a wider artistic community in Dunedin for 27 years. It has spawned many successful media careers, providing an opportunity for aspiring journalists and DJs to hone their skills.
The voluntary student membership bill (VSM), promoted by Act and supported by National, proposes to make membership of students associations ‘opt-in’ rather than ‘opt-out’. When last put to the vote, Otago students (through their students’ association – OUSA) chose to keep the status quo. They recognised the benefit of all students paying a small amount to generate accessible and affordable facilities for the whole student body. Now an ideological push from a ‘government knows best’ National-Act coalition is forcing its world-view on the student community.
The Government may not believe students know how to run their own organisations, but most of us in the general public do.
Radio One is being lined up to be chopped first. In the face of the VSM threat, OUSA is being forced to make hard choices. If VSM succeeds, expect other student services to go as well. Media that expresses student opinion, clubs and societies, student-run gym services, and independent advocacy services will all come under the spotlight. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Join the movement. Let the Government know VSM is not ok.