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September 22, 2008 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]


So… It’s Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) Executive’s election time. If you’re enrolled here at Vic, you should receive an email in your student account some time after 9am this Wednesday, the 24th of September, and can vote – either via email or at one of the many booths provided (see the election supplement in the middle of this magazine for details) – until 4:30pm on the 1st of October.

VUWSA began as the Victoria College Students’ Society back in 1899 because the Debating Society felt they needed an executive to represent students. They are perhaps most famous for buying the Viet Cong a tank back in the 1970s. You and 21,074 students pay a levy of $125 per year to the association, giving them approximately $1.5 million to play with. So what do you get for your dollars?

Almost $1 million goes towards ‘VUWSA Administration’, two-thirds of which is the cost of paying the Executive and permanent staff their wages. Clubs funding costs somewhat more than $130,000. Publications – Salient plus the annual diary and wallplanner handed out with Orientation packs – costs VUWSA around $125,000 (the cost of printing and wages for Salient is actually $300,000 per year, but half of this is paid for by advertising). Activities – mainly Orientation – costs a bit more than $60,000, and Rep Groups (which are like really serious clubs) cost $80,000.

The other areas of VUWSA’s budget are pretty small: the Welfare Office (including food bank), Education Office (including the class rep system), and Executive Expenses all cost between $10,000 and $20,000 each. The Campaigns, International, Environment, Women’s and Queer Office budgets all cost less than $10,000.

So now that you know what VUWSA does with your dollars, who do you want to run it? There are two ‘blocs’ of candidates running in this election, from Young Labour and The Workers Party, besides a number of unaffiliated candidates. While you can read more about each candidate in the election guide, let’s run through each of the four presidential candidates:

Jasmine Freemantle
The Workers Party candidate, Jasmine is campaigning as the most ‘experienced’ candidate, as she is not only both a PhD student and Assistant Lecturer (in Gender and Women’s Studies), but has also been on both the Exec and Publications Committee in the past, despite losing a vote to No Confidence in 2002. Nevertheless, her email to clubs accusing competitor Thomas of “selling them off” (even though VUWSA does not own affiliated clubs, per se) via his change proposal has provoked something of a shit-fight, which may not bode well.

Sean Connors
If students voted for the most fun candidate, no doubt Sean would win. His blurb in the election guide lays out plans to “twirl” against “big falafel” and the “corporate fat-cats in Kelburn”. His election poster is all about beer and mohawks. Need I say more?

strong>Sonny Thomas
The Young Labour candidate, Sonny’s political involvement goes back to protesting against Destiny Church meetings during high school. Currently VUWSA’s Campaigns Officer, Sonny is widely regarded as a competent organiser and has led the current Change Proposal to restructure VUWSA. However, he also has a reputation for being very partisan and abrasive, due both to his rhetoric against the A-Team last year and to his habit of storming out of VUWSA Exec meetings – and his Change Proposal has been criticised for a perceived lack of staff consultation.

William Wu
Current International Officer and President of the Chinese Students Association, William is obviously a good organiser: in April, he led some 700 young Chinese students in a march to support the Olympics. He also handed Salient a petition with 133 signatures opposing our use of a photoshopped Hu Jintao on the cover – but he was pretty nice about it, so no hard feelings. However, while he certainly understands English perfectly, he is not entirely confident when speaking, which may be an issue.

So all four candidates have their strengths and their flaws. Your job is to select the one you believe will best administer your levy, and best represent your concerns. Meanwhile, if you turn to page 16, you’ll notice that the redevelopment of Kelburn campus is getting closer. Personally, I find the images of an indoor campus hub area with sofas to loll about (I mean, er, study) on absolutely delicious. Whoever you elect will be representing your views on this development when it comes up for debate early next year, and I urge you to keep this in mind when voting. Other than that, have fun!


About the Author ()

Tristan Egarr edited in 2008. He threw a chair once.

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