Hey students' associations. You are not democracies.
5-10% turnout is not a mandate. Year after year after year, students have ignored you resoundingly. This could be a result of the lack of a social conscience in your neoliberal degree factory, it could be because they think student politics is an irredeemable theatre of muppetery, but it doesn't matter - it is a cold hard fact that the majority of students don't care about student politics.
Nor, dear VSM supporters, is this silent majority begging to be liberated from the tyranny of their student association. If they were, they'd have voted for it. They give as much a fraction of a shit about VSM as they do about the associations themselves.
So please, can we just all STFU with the hyperbole? It is not some epic battle over the soul and conscience of society. It is a few dozen student politicians and their grown-up counterparts trying to claim that students are on their side.
They are not.
The "principled" part of this debate is a flimsy crock of shit. Truly, students' association have to STFU about being representative of students. They are, at the best of times, self-appointed advocates who occasionally do good work. At the worse of times, I don't even have the words to describe this shit. Actually, sure I do: They lick piss.
Between student politicians who claim goddamn heavenly mandate over students and ACToids who derive their powers from the Absolute Immutable Freedom Matrix in the Rand dimension, I really don't know who I want to punch more.
Look ACToids, if you really don't want to be a member of a compulsory students' association, they have opt-out clauses. If you morally object to being bound by an opt-out clause, you can choose to go to Auckland University, where students' association membership is voluntary - honestly, they're Quite Okay. What you're really arguing is that a university should not be able to set its own condition of entry (e.g. "You have to be a member of our students' association"). That has nothing to do with personal choice, with freedom of association, and it's contrary to your own principles of freedom.
Consider body corporates. Does freedom of association mean that I should have the right to not be a part of the body corporate when I move into a building?
I haven't participated in this debate until now because it seemed rather pointless. It's been a pure grudge-match.
Also, I really don't know what I want. Even if students' associations are stripped down, even if some of their roles were given to the university, they could still be better in the sense that students are better served. To an extent, I agree with Farrar. VSM doesn't have to be a "hey guys, here's a blunt knife and a plastic bottle, good luck surviving!" affair. It doesn't have to be, but it is. Farrar argues that this is the students' associations' fault for not negotiating on - and capitulating to - a compromise bill, and relying instead on the Labour filibuster.
Well, that's a pretty irresponsible argument. If the Government actually wanted to do the best thing for students - if this was anything other than a grudge-match - why would the Government have needed to wait for students associations to come to it?
In conclusion, I will sign off as I would have done in student media: This is ridiculous and fuck you all.