Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: The Inexorable Advance

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  • Amy Gale,

    As a point of clarification, this refers to an effort by graduate Teaching Assistants (ie PhD students who also teach...

    Unionisation efforts vary somewhat by university, but High Above Cayuga's Waters it was also Research Assistants, which can mean "PhD students who also do research unrelated to their theses in exchange for funding" but more often means "PhD students who have scored money to do the thesis research that they were going to do anyway".

    But it was sometimes instructive to see otherwise liberal (and thus supposedly "pro labor" in the US parlance) academics turn purple over the thought of having to deal with unionized students.

    I have to say it was a bit startling to find myself on the no-union side of an issue. Quite a lot of it was to do with not wanting to be a United Auto Worker. Now, if it had been the Teamsters...

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    The idea that we're now fighting over small potatoes (compared to say, equal pay for women)

    There's the equivalence again - and it's simply not true. Still at least one large potato to go.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Universities are independent bodies, and have historically chosen to have student associations.

    If you want to talk about disingenuity, Rich, let's examine the extremely selective use of history. As I pointed out upthread, "historically" Oxford and many other universities have chosen to exclude women, place a religious qualification on admission, and required dons to be unmarried and at least ostensibly celibate. I think anyone who tried to justify any of the above on historical grounds would get extremely short shift.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    But what I'm left with right now is this: if Roger Douglas is in favour of voluntary membership, there's probably something deeply wrong with it.

    *sigh* And If Sue Bradford is for something, I guess I should be against it. How's that worked out?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Dunno, how do you feel about beating children? :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I'm sure Roger Douglas must believe in something I could agree with - just not that obvious. Wish his 1970s superannuation scheme had survived Muldoon.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Bennett,

    The idea that students in particular aren't activist anymore isn't new; [...] this might in part be because the big fights that might affect them are over

    Sure, we no longer have conscription, or legal apartheid in South Africa. Not so sure that the lack of student activism is much evidence for the idea that society has reached the final frontier of freedom. It might just mean that there has been a political shift and that our most distasteful transgressions of liberty and freedom (that I mentioned briefly above) don't seem to matter (don't 'affect them') so much to the kinds of people who become university students.

    (ie how many of the kids whose basic needs are now being taken care of (in part) by telethons and food banks go on to become students at our universities... )

    Just because issues are off the 'human rights' agenda doesn't mean they are not important concerns of human freedom.

    Again, trollishly off topic I know, but I was pulled in by the imagery of 'final frontiers', 'last things' and 'small potatoes', which from my perspective paints an inaccurate picture of the state of freedom in this country.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    To be sure, to be sure..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    I want to be a member of Victoria University, why should I be forced to be a member of the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association?

    'I would like to be a citizen of New Zealand. But I don't want to pay income tax! I don't use any of these petty taxpayer-funded "services;" I'm an an entirely autonomous entity!'

    'I didn't vote for this particular government! Why should they get my tax money? I should be able to rescind the social contract to avoid people whom I disagree with ideologically from getting their hands on public funds!'

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    There's the equivalence again - and it's simply not true. Still at least one large potato to go.

    A father has just sent me a detailed account of his Asperger son's expulsion from secondary school, largely as a result of hostile staff not getting it, and not wanting to get it. It's depressing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    As I pointed out upthread, "historically" Oxford and many other universities have chosen to exclude women, place a religious qualification on admission, and required dons to be unmarried and at least ostensibly celibate. I think anyone who tried to justify any of the above on historical grounds would get extremely short shift.

    Also historically Oxford has handed out degrees on the basis of sitting exams. This is an utterly specious argument, unless you want to utterly remove self-government for universities*. The above were gross violations of human rights that served no good purpose, whereas student associations and exams aren't gross violations of human rights, and serve a good purpose.

    * Which, er, I suppose you could, but I don't think would be a very good idea. Universities aren't the state.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    This is an utterly specious argument,

    No, Keir, its a reminder that people who want to appeal to historical authority really shouldn't treat history as a row of bulk bins where you can cherry pick the sweeties you like, and ignore the rest. I'll call bullshit on the right when they (ab)use history for their political ends -- like ignoring inconvenient historical notions of marriage to justify their opposition to same-sex marriage -- , and don't see any need to change now.

    'I didn't vote for this particular government! Why should they get my tax money? I should be able to rescind the social contract to avoid people whom I disagree with ideologically from getting their hands on public funds!'

    Caleb: If CSM advocates are going to insist on equating students associations with central government, then I'd suggest the onus is on you to show how that analogy is a sound one. I'm not inclined to play into a classic de-rail strategy.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    *sigh* And If Sue Bradford is for something, I guess I should be against it. How's that worked out?

    Because you are guessing ;) and deep down you know she's right, right? What's left? Sue Bradford I guess. Round an' roun'.....

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    I'll call bullshit on the right when they (ab)use history for their political ends

    Knighthoods for twits like Sir Michael Fay?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    There's the equivalence again - and it's simply not true. Still at least one large potato to go.

    No it isn't.

    I've never fought with anyone over rights for the disabled. I've not seen an arguments here between other people over rights for the disabled.

    I was comparing things fought over (by students, particularly, or mass movements generally) in the past, with things fought over (by students, or mass movements) now. Why would things that have not yet been fought over (by students, or massmovements) be part of the comparison?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I want to get a bus to Karori. Why should I be forced to subsidise Brian Souter's homophobia?

    I don't know, but certainly not because the New Zealand Parliament passed a law giving him the power to require you to fund him.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    No, Keir, its a reminder that people who want to appeal to historical authority really shouldn't treat history as a row of bulk bins where you can cherry pick the sweeties you like, and ignore the rest.

    So, what, the assertion is that all appeals to historical authority are flawed? Because I did propose a mechanism for distinguishing things like exams and students' associations from the exclusion of dissenters and women, so you might want to argue with that instead of pretending I'm making a undifferentiated appeal to precedent (I leave that to Tories.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Universities are independent bodies, and have historically chosen to have student associations. What this law (and the predecessor requiring ballots, for that matter) is to dictate that they cannot have such associations as part of the package of university membership.

    Universities in New Zealand have never chosen whether to have students' associations. It's not up to the university - in the past, a bunch of students decided to associate. Different bunches of students have continued to do so. At some point along the line, a law was passed giving those students the power to force others to join as well.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Because you are guessing ;) and deep down you know she's right, right? What's left? Sue Bradford I guess. Round an' roun'.....

    Sofie: Heh... Well, you may have noticed that you wouldn't want to bet the house on my voting Green in this or any other lifetime. But that doesn't mean they don't occasionally say things worth at least a serious hearing. And as I've said elsewhere, I've a lot of respect for Sue Bradford personally, even if I think her politics are a couple of organic kumara short of a full hangi. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    So, what, the assertion is that all appeals to historical authority are flawed?

    No.

    I want to get a bus to Karori. Why should I be forced to subsidise Brian Souter's homophobia?

    Good question. Perhaps that's one you could put to the members of the Greater Wellington Regional Transport Committee. I'm fairly confident they'd respond that they don't give contracts to companies that engage in discriminatory (and illegal) employment practices in New Zealand, and would very much like to know if you have any evidence of such behaviour.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I was comparing things fought over (by students, particularly, or mass movements generally) in the past, with things fought over (by students, or mass movements) now. Why would things that have not yet been fought over (by students, or massmovements) be part of the comparison?

    You could certainly have been clearer about it.

    But I think you'd be on surer ground with a slightly different tack: Everything else has been deregulated -- why not this?

    It's more apt, and more palatable, than the human rights argument.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    No.

    So, erm, what difference does it make that Oxford used exclude dissenters? I am not arguing that Oxford did x therefore x is good; I am arguing that Oxford (and a whole bunch of other universities) did x (or rather x-like things), and that x has been proven by experience to be a good thing, therefore x is good.

    The second part doesn't apply to the exclusion of dissenters, so I really don't see the relevance at all. And I also don't see how your argument (?) doesn't also apply to exams, lectures, degrees, and the whole apparatus of higher education.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    But I think you'd be on surer ground with a slightly different tack: Everything else has been deregulated -- why not this?

    It's more apt, and more palatable, than the human rights argument.

    And also bankrupt.

    I wasn't saying that we should make membership of students' associations voluntary because we've done good things in the past - like pass the Equal Pay Act. I was looking at students' association in almost total isolation, running the system by which they are/can be compulsory for students through sections 17 and 5 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, and - I think unsurprisingly - determining it comes up short.

    And then I remarked that I realised it wasn't all that big a deal, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it anyway.

    I wouldn't argue for freedom of expression on the basis that other things had already been de-regulated, and I don't see why I have to here.

    Section 17 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act guarantees freedom of association. I don't believe anyone here has seriously suggested it's not implicated. That pretty much leaves two options to those who disagree:

    1. They believe that the limit imposed in reasonable and justifiable in a democratic society; or
    2. They believe that we shouldn't have the right to freedom of association.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Dear Lord, a union is like a church... so glad I was away from PAS yesterday and am grateful to those who argued against the proposition.

    Suppressing exclamations of "what's with this fucking country?" has been hard over the last week.

    1. They believe that the limit imposed in reasonable and justifiable in a democratic society; or
    2. They believe that we shouldn't have the right to freedom of association.

    The former, dude, the former.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    It'll be interesting to see how Labour plays this one. I assume they'll oppose it on a) principle and, b) simply because it's Roger Douglas's bill.

    Labour's Grant Robertson was OUSA president in '94 and co-pres of NZUSA in '95, so I expect he'll be mulling over how to attack the bill in the house.

    National are going to humour Douglas and support it as far as select committee stage, but I doubt they'll have much interest in it after that.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report Reply

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