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May 25, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

The Long Goodbye


The time has come the walrus said, to speak of many things

And as it was in 2006 when I joined VUWSA and the VUWSA Executive, in 2006 the exec had to face some hard truths. The financial state of the Association was coming to a head and some changes needed to happen. VUWSA had, for many years, been running large deficits that had brought its reserves down to practically zero and we could no longer afford to lose money.

I came onto the VUWSA Executive in July 2006 as the Campaigns Officer in a by-election and began working on running good SRC meetings and a fees campaign with little preparation. These were not very successful to the point where for a while at the fees protest the security guards actually outnumbered the students present.

I avoided getting despondent and got interested and involved in the review being undertaken by Horwarth Strategy (now part of BDO Spicers Wellington) this review said that radical change was necessary and that budgeting and budget control procedures would need to be developed and implemented quickly and would need to be kept to in order to avoid collapse.

At the end of 2006 I stood for Treasurer of VUWSA and won, I was then co-opted to that position for the remainder of 2006 to work on the budget. During the election VUWSA put a motion up to a SGM to raise the levy to $120 (equivalent to the inflation since the levy was last adjusted) and then inflation adjust the levy each year, this passed and was a big help in starting the association back on track.

In 2007 I worked trying to get in place procedures and other measures to try and ensure that budgets were kept to and that staff and executive members understood about their roles and responsibilities. At the end of 2007 I stood again and proposed at the AGM that the position of Treasurer be made into a Vice-President role. This was agreed to by students who also re-elected me and I held the new role of Vice-President (Administration) in 2008. 2008 Was the first year where we ran a surplus. As the audit is incomplete the exact figure is unknown however it should be around $50k which is the level required to rebuild VUWSA’s reserves. At the end of 2008 I was re-elected again to the VP (Admin) position and have held that job this year.

I have loved my time at VUWSA for the almost three years that I have been here. I have been able to work with great people exec, staff, and contractors and have had a great time facing all the challenges and working for the students. To the Executives and Presidents thank you, to the staff thanks for the laughter sorry for all the times I have annoyed you, to Spike thanks for the use of crowded house (VUWSA office), and to all the students and staff of the university over the years thank you very much (thanks Pat, and I will try and be more raucous next fee setting)

I am heading up to Auckland at the start of July and living at home again (no rent living, thanks mum and dad) and completing my degree at Auckland. I will miss this place and this city which I love and I plan to return once I have completed my qualification.

My final day at VUWSA will be the 26th June (about a week before my 3 year anniversary) and I hope to be able to catch up with many people around the university that last week.

Good luck to you all,

Kindest regards
Alexander Neilson


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Comments (3)

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  1. Graeme Edgeler says:

    … in 2006 … VUWSA had, for many years, been running large deficits that had brought its reserves down to practically zero and we could no longer afford to lose money.

    And except for the fact that there were surpluses in 2002, 2003, and 2004 you’d be right. Unless by “for many years” you meant one year, of course.

    And wasn’t the deficit in 2006 the largest ever (or close to it)?

  2. Conan says:

    lashed Alex, lashed.

  3. Anon says:

    Alexsh Neilschonssh

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