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March 5, 2007 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Mr T says “it’s about the students, fool!”

Each week I get a chance to write in Salient. I am limited however to 800 words maximum. Given that there are 24 issues of Salient left for the year, and I get to write up to 800 words in each of them, I have a maximum of 19,200 well crafted words with which to speak to you, the students, in this magazine.

My point is that while I could ramble on about my life and my presidency with all the time I have, I do not have that luxury. The VUWSA President is a delegate of all of the students at VUWSA. My role is to utilise every moment to serve around 20,000 students who attend Victoria University each year. A glance at the voter turnout for the 2006 elections shows how difficult that’s going to be. Just over 1000 people voted in the VUWSA Presidential race – that’s about five per cent voter turnout. I have to build trust in the 95 per cent who didn’t vote at all, as well as do my best to serve the small percentage of students who supported me in that election (I do thank you for the support by the way).

So let this be a challenge to myself, not to waste the time I have. For those who do not know, I ran to rebuild the student’s trust in VUWSA. I do not take that lightly. I intend to spend every moment I can with the very people I serve, whether it is in the bar, cafes, library, quad, lecture theatres, link tower, Marae. From Pipitea to Karori, Te Aro and Kelburn. No place is too remote. This will not be a presidency via leaflet (although we will have those too) So, if you see me about, come over and ask me for a beer or a coffee, tell me about your day, or ask me what I’m doing at the moment.

Likewise my fellow executive members join me in my dedication to all students. We all have a job to do. Let us not forget that we serve students, together. I also acknowledge the work of those groups around campus, from Ngai Tauira, to Student Choice, from affiliated political parties like National, Labour, the Greens or the Workers, to those (arguably) within less student focussed yet supportive groups like AUS and NZVCC, who while we may all disagree on some things, we cannot deny our dedication to students. Let us overcome our own fears and jealousies, and find the will to work together. I also extend an opportunity for our institutional leaders, including Vice Chancellor Walsh, to come out of their offices and meet students on their turf. Come listen to their concerns, their wishes, objections and gripes.

While these leaders may make decisions on behalf of the “University Community,” students are our largest stakeholder. It would be a shame if those decisions were not made with an open mind, and refusing to listen to those whose fate rests in their hands.

Over the coming weeks and months, VUWSA will begin a campaign to educate our members about the services we provide as well as information about how as a VUWSA member, you can make VUWSA serve you better. You lot elected us; we are supposed to listen to you, not the other way around. Likewise, there are a number of issues that will emerge over the year that will impact students, not just this year, but in the years to come. I will come back to those in later editions of Salient.

I think that writing for Salient is an underrated experience. I loved my time as a writer last year, and it is a good way to get involved in student life. If you are keen to write something, anything, go see them at their office (Level 2, Student Union Building) and talk about how you can get involved.

But lest we forget that we have Orientation to get through. I am so excited by this week’s events. The Speight’s Suburban Safari, Dance Syndrome, Juliette and the Licks, and of course, the world’s only Hang Over Hangi!

I guess I sign off this column with a sense of hope for the future. There will be many a cynic out there who shall think that I will fail in this mission to bring VUWSA back to the students, and maybe I will. But I’ll never wave the white flag. I have a Carville haiku on the back of my office door, which if you think this column was pathetically overoptimistic, then you’ll love this, it reads simply:

Leave with direction
It’s the students, stupid!
No action, no praise

I’ll see you on campus.


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