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March 20, 2006 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

We Report, You Decide

Here’s the deal: three positions, eight candidates, you decide.

Three new positions on the VUWSA Exec – International officer, Environmental officer and Queer officer – are up for grabs in next week’s by-election. Every candidate, bar one, responded to our hard-nosed and probing questions. Some responses are funny, some of them are interesting, but most reflect seriousness about serving students.

Voting takes place from 21 – 28 of March, and all students are able to vote. You can vote online at (in your underpants if that floats your boat). Or you can vote at one of the many polling booths in the library foyer, Karori campus common room, Pipitea Cafeteria or the architecture and design school. All polling booths are open from 10 am to 4 pm. Plenty of time.

The three elected will soon take their places on the VUWSA Exec. They will be required to work ten hours a week at their various portfolios, as well as attending Exec meetings, liaising with rep groups, and generally helping out with VUWSA stuff. For this they get a measly honorarium. They’re doing it for love people, so you can at least take ten minutes to tick three boxes. C’mon! You know you want to. (Ed- But probably, you won’t.)

Queer Officer, Will Howell

How limp wristed are you?
I’m too scared to go for a check-up and find out!

Do you think homophobia is a big problem on campus?
I think Victoria, and Wellington in general, tends to be all rainbows and lollipops and happiness and inclusion (comparatively at least), but the notable exceptions and casual unthinking heterosexisms seem disproportionately important when you are in the closet or newly-out, and I’d like to provide a friendly, approachable face and sympathetic ear to
people in that situation.

Who is your favourite Queer Eye guy? Or are queer stereotypes just plain wrong?
I’ve only seen it a couple of times, but I’d have to say Carson, if only because my six year old sister finds him hilarious – though the idea of him as a style guru deeply disturbs me! As for stereotypes, I have no problem with them as long as they are treated with the sense of humour they deserve to be treated with. Some of them very much have their basis in truth but offer a very two-dimensional view. I certainly have some very ‘gay’ characteristics, but I also fit aspects of the tree-hugging hippie stereotype, and the Hawke’s Bay farm-boy stereotype, and lots of other mutually contradictory simplicities. None of them can possibly contain or define the wonderful complexity of a real person.

James Mulligan-Hill

Autoreply: Salient questions
(Singing lines with music in background)
“It’s fun to charter an accountant…”

How limp wristed are you?
Think of the phrase “Dear Limp Wristed Caricature.” In fact, think of Oscar Wilde without the charm and wit but still splendidly arrayed in sartorial splendor….. Darling.

Do you think homophobia is a big problem on campus?
I haven’t come across much hatred for those of another persuasion on campus, but from a couple of comments I heard on the disastrous Q&A session on Thursday, there is some form of it. I haven’t been at Victoria very long (still being a first year, and just recently out of the closet), but I would have to say it’s an issue, but not a big problem from what I’ve seen insofar. People here are pretty accepting.

Who is your favourite Queer Eye guy? Or are queer stereotypes just plain wrong?
I don’t have a personal favourite, really. I think they’re all hilarious. Though, I believe queer stereotypes are indeed wrong. Everyone is different, and I don’t believe that people should have to conform to a stereotypical archetype just to please the masses. I know plenty of gay people who don’t submit to what is generally assumed to be gay, and people who are straight who act more… flamboyant than I.

Rachel Leat

Was unable to be contacted.

Environmental Officer, Tushara Kodikara

If you had to be one character from the cartoon Captain Planet, which Planeteer would you be?
I would be Wheeler, ‘cause his power is fire, and how can you not want to be able to control fire?

As VUWSA Environmental Officer you’re realistically not going to be able to save the world. Shouldn’t we just consume all we want and screw the consequences?
Only if you’re very stupid. Realistically though, if we don’t start consuming at a level that is far less than what we produce, the consequences will screw us. Even a 5th form maths student can tell you that it is impossible for a sub-set (what we consume) to be bigger than the whole set (what we produce). However, we humans act like we can. I guess we are screwed, unless we all start making changes.

You see someone throw a can on the ground. What do you do?
I would pick it up, and then throw it at their head, no just kidding (peace and love)… I would pick it up and then find the nearest recycling bin (there are heaps on campus) and then place it in the proper bin.

Martin Wilson

If you had to be one character from the cartoon Captain Planet , which Planeteer would you be?
The cartoonist.

As VUWSA Environmental Officer you’re realistically not going to be able to save the world. Shouldn’t we just consume all we want and screw the consequences?
Someone always has to clean up after a party. We try to keep our flat clean & tidy, a pleasant place to live and socialise, and use environmentally friendly practices even when we party. Although the principle is the same, slightly more is at stake with this planet. That’s a fundamental and important responsibility that I want to, and do, help with.

As examples, I prefer to take my own bags to the supermarket; to buy beer in swap-a-crate bottles, to buy handles not bottles in pubs, to avoid buying plastic where possible, to use public transport around town, and often walk or cycle. These are some of my individual choices, small contributions, but examples of commitments we all could be making.

You see someone throw a can on the ground. What do you do?
A lack of information and facilities leads people to make individually rational but environmentally undesirable choices. Changes come, if slowly, from good management, good information, and thereby changing preferences in individual choices. If there’s a recycling bin nearby I pick cans up. Aluminium is a valuable and quite amazing resource. And recycling creates jobs. Did you notice all the recycling bins beside every rubbish bin at Newtown & Kilbirnie Festivals? I do pick up cans.

International Officer, Shijun Li (John)

Are you an international student?
Yes, I am an international student and have been at Victoria University for three years. I have completed my BCA and BA(Hons) in Public Policy. Currently, I am tutoring PUBL201, and an MCA will be my next achievement. Also I have been employed by VUWSA as International Students’ Coordinator for more than two years.

International officer is a critically important role to promote the interaction and friendship between local students and international students. It requires that the officer understands international students’ real needs, VUWSA, as well as the New Zealand political environment very well.

I do believe my unique experience, knowledge and skills are the reasons why you should vote for me.

What are the main problems facing international students at Vic and what’s your grand plan to solve them?
International students are not cash cows. We are a human bridge between New Zealand and the rest of world. Without doubt, the primary problem for international students is tuition fee. I’ll lobby the university to adopt a “grantparenting” policy through different efficient approaches. “Grantparenting” means that increases of tuition fees do not impact all current students.

Further, I am planning to cooperate with different university departments to offer various programmes to improve International students’ language skills and learning capability. Besides, I’ll continue organizing interesting events with Dusty for them.

In short, my goal is to ensure all international students gain the positive overseas experience during their study and life at Victoria.

Do you think you can handle the muppetry of the Exec?
Actually, as current international students’ coordinator, I have established a very positive working relationship with many Executive members. People might have different perspectives to the Exec. However, from my point of view, respect and communication will be the keys to cooperate with each other and deliver more goods and services for students. Anyway, I do believe the ultimate goal for all Exec is the same: be accountable to students.

Yue Shi (Fiona)

Are you an international student?
Theoretically, no, because I am a permanent resident here, but I came from China 3 years ago, so I am an international student studying in a foreign country, if you think from that point of view.

What are the main problems facing international students at Vic and what’s your grand plan to solve them?
I think the biggest and the main problem that international students are facing is that they can’t get into the ‘kiwi’ groups. You will find that international students generally form their own national groups, they are not really getting the most out of living in a foreign country. So what I want to do is to organise more social events with both local and international students, to let international students and the kiwis know each other better. I believe both groups will get the benefit from knowing another country’s culture.

Another problem that international students are facing is academic work. I do think this is mainly because some international students’ English is still quite poor considering we are at University level, but you will find some international students are doing extremely well at Victoria as well. So what I shall do is to have international students helping each other and also having Kiwis helping international students. In that way, internationals will also get to know more about NZ culture. One thing that I really want to do is to organise an exhibition of excellent works from international students, I think we should be proud of what they are achieving at a foreign country and also encourage more international students to do better in different areas.

Do you think you can handle the muppetry of the Exec?
For this question, I have got no experience with the executives, so I don’t know what muppetry implies.

Greg Carstens

Are you an international student?
No, but they need me because I will staunchly advocate their cause and I am Wellington born and New Zealand bred. I will wield more clout as a result on their behalf. My very good friend Anne Cronin was the international Students rep and I have spoken to her at length about the issues facing international students. I am well informed as a result.

What are the main problems facing international students at Vic?
Cultural integration, social integration, language, acceptance, parity, and recognition, among others.

Do you think you can handle the muppetry of the Exec?
You bet.


About the Author ()

Nicola Kean: feature writer, philanthropist, womanly woman. Nicola is the smallest member of the Salient team, but eats really large pieces of lasagne. Favourites include 80s music, the scent of fresh pine needles and long walks on the beach.

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