Charities Commission should examine political student unions

Published: Fri 3 Jun 2011 09:55 AM
Charities Commission should examine political student unions
Media release: Student Choice, 2 June 2011
Following the recent deregistration of Greenpeace, the Charities Commission should review the charitable status of various political compulsory student unions.
Compulsory student unions with charitable status include the Victoria University Students Association, the Otago University Students Association, the Waikato Students Union, the Massey University Students Association, and the Massey at Wellington Students Association.
Greenpeace was deregistered because of its political activities. Compulsory student associations are inherently political organisations. In recent years student association ‘charities’ have variously: • Lobbied politicians against freedom of association • Submitted to parliament in opposition to changes to labour legislation • Complained about the election of the National government in 2008 • Claimed they campaign for “left wing reform” • Picketed the office of a National party MP
There is also the ethical question of how groups with forced membership can have charitable status. By definition, charities rely on voluntary contributions of time and money. However compulsory student associations are funded by people who have not agreed to become members. Organisations that have to rely on compulsory membership should not be entitled to call themselves charities.

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