Students and seniors at odds over asset sales

Switched on: Otago University Students' Association leader Logan Edgar says if the numbers stack up he would prefer the OUSA to buy shares in state-owned electricity companies rather than endorse a campaign to stop government asset sales.
Switched on: Otago University Students' Association leader Logan Edgar says if the numbers stack up he would prefer the OUSA to buy shares in state-owned electricity companies rather than endorse a campaign to stop government asset sales.
The generation gap is now a gulf - a gulf of dismay.

Local Grey Power president Jo Millar has been told the Otago University Students' Association (OUSA) would not march with senior citizens protesting government asset sales.

Instead, OUSA president Logan Edgar is considering using student money to buy shares in state-owned power companies.

Mrs Millar was deeply disappointed when she heard the news.

‘‘I don't know whether the students really understand,'' Mrs Millar said.

‘‘I really don't know whether they have researched it properly.''

The Otago branch of senior citizens advocacy group Grey Power is organising a public march along George St in the middle of next month to protest the Government's planned partial sale of four energy companies and the sale of Air NZ.

Mrs Millar hoped it would have the same high level of public support given to last year's marches to retain neurosurgery services in Dunedin.

The nationwide Keep Our Assets campaign - involving protest marches and a petition seeking a referendum on the sales - has input from a variety of organisations including Grey Power and the New Zealand University Students Association (NZUSA).

On Tuesday, Mrs Millar had had no replies to her emails seeking a meeting with OUSA representatives, but was still hoping to include students in the planned protest.

Students were ‘‘our grandchildren'' and Grey Power members wanted to work with them ‘‘so they can understand how we are trying to protect their future'', she said.

But, when contacted by The Star, Mr Edgar said he had ‘‘no interest whatsoever'' in the protest.

OUSA would look to invest in shares when the assets were put up for sale, Mr Edgar said.

‘‘We'd do it to keep some lights on for studying students and to keep them [the energy companies] New Zealand-owned,'' he said.

Mr Edgar said he and other OUSA members were meeting bank advisers today to discuss investment options. He did not know how much money OUSA had available to invest.

The results of an informal OUSA online survey of student opinion on the asset sales was ‘‘not heavily weighted one way or the other''.

Mrs Millar said the OUSA response was ‘‘not going to stop me one little bit''.

She questioned whether the decision was supported by most students.

‘‘Has there been a majority decision saying they don't want to take part?'' she said.

‘‘Any university students who want to join the march are more than welcome.''

NZUSA president Pete Hodkinson, of Wellington, said his organisation had ‘‘frozen all comment on asset sales'' until after a board meeting next week.

Edgar does not represent us

This gives the false impression that OUSA has consulted with students about this issue.  

Mrs Millar:  please let the students and not OUSA know where your march will be held.[Abridged]

 

How irritating

Rather than misrepresenting Logan Edgar's personal views as those of the majority of students, perhaps it might be an idea to have a chat with groups on campus such as the young Greens/Young Labour or any of the many politically minded and socially engaged individuals in the student community before tarring us all with the same brush.

Mrs Miller, try OPSA

Try the Otago Polytechnic Students Association - we have a much more enlightened president than Edgar.

Students now

The triumph of neoliberalism in education bears its fruits. Students behave only like disgruntled consumers, but are loathe to identify with any political cause, even when it affects their own futures. They lack any sense of solidarity - it's just a concept that has no traction in their lives. [Abridged] 

The so-called "online suvey"

The so-called "online survey" was a questionnaire on Facebook, open only to people connected to OUSA, and therefore hardly representative of the student body. There has been no other consultation. The OUSA homepage reports that the comments were made with "satirical intent", which says a lot more about Logan Edgar than it does of the opinions of students. 

Finally, it should be pointed out out that wanting to buy assets and protesting their sale are not mutually exclusive stances. I for one would prefer if they stayed in New Zealand hands. 

Why would Mr Edgar care?

Why would Mr. Edgar care about asset sales. Like so many students he'll be off overseas for better money if he completes his studies.

Until then his agenda seems to be to show himself capable, on his CV, that he can make money for a potential employer.

My guess is that the majority of students are against asset sales and therefore he is in direct conflict with the students he is supposed to be representing. 

This generation of students do not have an understanding of losing anything. The likes of Mr Edgar have been given everything they have without having to work for it.

OUSA should be able to buy, yet also say the sales are wrong

I'm not sure what the current policy is, but certainly for many years OUSA has had a standing policy against asset sales.

Further, OUSA buying shares does not mean that it supports asset sales:

The sales are sadly going to happen, and someone is going recieve a benefit. Students may as well have some share in that benefit, and as most can not do that individually it makes sense that OUSA does it.

However, OUSA should be opposing the sales (or at least having a proper debate and determining what their members feel about these sales) and being clear that the profits they're going to make from them should be for all New Zealanders (though state ownership) not just students.

I can't imagine that students will be any different than the rest of the community with the majority (including many National voters) against asset sales. Any profits from them will be used to either lower the amount of money students pay OUSA for services, or will increase OUSA services for students.

Really?

I'm pretty sure the numbers don't stack up, hence the need for protest against their sale, Mr Edgar! This isn't about the OUSA possibly making a quick buck, and I'm absloutely horrified that the president of a once powerful student union may think that way.

Really?

Mr Edgar may believe that the sale of State Owned Assets is a good idea but I can assure you he does not speak for all students. In fact 90 percent of the people I speak to do not approve the move.

It doesn't matter if you look at in from an economic or ideological point of view, it simply does not stack up.

Mrs Millar can rest assumed that there are plenty of students who would, and in fact will, stand beside her to do what ever it takes to stop asset sales. Selling assets failed in the past and the same will happen today. The defintion of stupidty is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different outcome.