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September 1, 2008 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

President’s Column

One of the first ways I got involved in my (and your) Students’ Association was writing music reviews for Salient. I’d read it in secondary school whenever I found a copy, it was an elusive thing and something that in 6th form seemed so impressive and removed from anything to do with me (how have things changed?). I soon started volunteering for Orientation and activities in general. I helped out at The Shins and Interpol. Something well worth doing I might add. As well as that I also volunteered in the foodbank, receiving as well as giving in a few situations. I organised a couple of protests and still managed to past (mostly) my papers that year.

Why did I get involved? Because University is not just about passing papers (important yes, the totality, no.) it’s about taking part in a community that we are part of whether we know it or not. If we’re involved we make it stronger, if we are not, it is weaker for the loss.

Yes. VUWSA is having its elections in a short time coming. That much must be obvious from my column so far. Elections are coming up and it’s important that we get the best possible people coming through. That means YOU.

VUWSA is the representative body of you the students. It’s primary role is to represent students views’, aims and desires as best as it can. There are some desires we shy away from, but we cover most. So in 2006 we put out the SPAM survey as a comprehensive survey to find out what you guys wanted. That’s how I see us serving your needs. Too many people have talked to me saying they know what students want. As elected reps we serve students, students don’t serve us.

I’ve had an amazing four odd years at VUWSA. It’s been an pretty eye opening time. I’m not leaving with very many regrets. But a whole lot of great memories.

VUWSA is about fighting to be represented at the university’s many decision making tables. It’s about backing up students who run into the cold hard brick wall of the university disciplinary process. It’s about supporting our many clubs and helping them develop and serve their members i.e. other students, even better. It’s about demanding accountability from the university and government to sanely treat us for what we are, students and members of society.

If any of the above strikes a cord then think of standing for a VUWSA executive position. I won’t bother going into each one. Pop along to and check a look.

We’ve had right wing demagogues on the Exec (although less than in Auckland), Marxist Maoist Millitants and a group of people who labelled themselves The Moderates in reaction to the Maoists. Anyone once elected can represent on VUWSA. It’s just a little matter of getting elected. Go on just do it, just do it.

We’re moving into a time that implies huge change for the university and for the wider nation (maybe you can stand for VUWSA and make a stand on obesity?). The issues of underfunding wedged onto requirements by the current government to move funding are putting more and more pressure on individual universities to cut courses and take away choice at universities. We’ve got the big changes signalled at VUW. Now that student numbers are plateauing, you as a student become more important than you were. This is where the Campus Hub comes in. Redesigning the quad and everything around it so that students can make better use of our campus.

We need a quality Students Association. There’s a lot of work that’s needed to be done, but that’s the case no matter what year you’re in! There’s space coming up if you want to run with the VUWSA ball.

And so, my fellow VUW students, at this part of the year: ask not what VUWSA can do for you – ask what you can do for VUWSA. Makes a stand and nominate yourself!

Nominations open on the 4th of Spetember. You can find the forms at one of the VUWSA offices, or online at www.vuwsa.


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  1. Tom says:

    I agree that University is not just about passing papers, but when passing papers it is important to strive to achieve the best to your ability. Your achievements should be fully acknowledged, rather than a simple pass or fail method based on a degree by degree basis.

    I wonder what percentage of students are actually involved in extra curricular activity in New Zealand’s universities? While most people will tell you that it is important to partake in such activities, rather than just focusing on completing a degree. There does not seem to be a culture or value based incentives to encourage students to partake in the greater pursuits that universities have to offer.

    So the question is; how can incentives be created that will motivate students to become more involved in the university community, including student politics.

    Victoria University has taken a small step by implementing the Victoria plus award: which gives credits for completing tasks that it deems worthy of credit, for example “Helping new students settle in as a Campus Coach”

    While it may not be the use that it is creators intended. I believe that Academic Score: could be a useful tool to effectively show that simply obtaining a degree is not the be all and end all of tertiary development. This could further motivate universities to broaden their view on their qualifications. Alternatively the universities could be encouraged to head back to their more traditional role of focusing on pushing the boundaries of academic excellence to benefit society as a whole rather than balancing this role with the sausage factory degree production system which is currently happening.

    Once students, employers and society become aware that there is more to education than academic study, and that there is more to university than doing the bare minimum to pass papers to get a degree. Hopefully then we can move on and make university the stronger community that it deserves to be.

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