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September 21, 2009 | by  | in News Online Only | [ssba]

Fee setting: a poultry-produce pillory

University Council members had to duck for cover as protesters threw fruit and eggs at them at a meeting where fees and the student services levy were raised today.

VUWSA president Jasmine Freemantle was hit in the head by an orange, but Chancellor Tim Beaglehole and Vice Chancellor Pat Walsh survived unscathed.

Protest leader, VUWSA education vice president Freya Eng said the poultry-produce pillory was not supported by VUWSA, and no executive members threw items.

The group of about 25 protesters, largely made up of Workers’ Party members, marched from the quad to the Hunter Building Council Chambers shortly after 4pm.

Former VUWSA President Joel Cosgrove, and Alistair Reith, both Workers’ Party members who were disenrolled from the university after burning a flag on the Mount Street Bar deck earlier this year, were in the protest group.

The protest, which initially left off from the quad—containing fewer than 25 people, mainly Workers’ Party members—was aimed to dispute the annual fee setting meeting of the university council. Fees were for the nth year in a row set to go up and the council mooted a 93 percent increase for the student services levy.

During a speech by Victoria Broadcasting Club managing co-director Matthew Davis on why fees and the levy should not be raised, Reith, fellow Workers’ Party member and former VUWSA Campaigns Officer Sam Oldham and perennial student Kerry Tankard began yelling and chanting.

Beaglehole read a warning to the protesters, saying they would be asked to leave if they continued to interrupt the meeting, before the protesters began to throw eggs and fruit.

The Council was then moved from the Council Chambers to a smaller room in the Kirk Building under a heavy Campus Care presence, where the meeting continued.

Fees were raised by about five percent, while the student services levy was raised by 93 percent. See our other story here for more information.

It was not known if those involved in the protest would be trespassed or face discipline from the university.


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Comments (37)

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  1. anon says:

    “The protest which initially left off from the quad—containing fewer than 25 people, mainly Workers’ Party members”

    Um, surely the Workers Party doesn’t have 13 active members in Wellington, let alone 13 on the protest today. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made up the largest single group on the protest, but they wouldn’t have made up more than half the protest, which your sentence implies.

    Anyway, no surprise the fees have gone up. Its disgusting stuff from Vic Uni, and from Jasmine for not voting against the late fees. But throwing eggs and fruit clearly was never going to accomplish anything – not that I think Beaglehole or Walsh didnt deserve it!

  2. Your name says:

    Of course Jasmine voted against the fee rise. It’s part of the job. You vote against fee rises but then you don’t lobby the university to lobby the government.

  3. Don Franks says:

    Type here…

  4. Don Franks says:

    We do have about 13 active members in Wellington at the moment.

  5. Alpha says:

    Yes, ‘about’. You didn’t actually contradict anything. Try again.

    The protest was stupid. I watched it. They looked like chimpanzees. What exactly did they ever think to achieve with it? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t support the levy increase, but something along the lines of a sit-in may have been more effective.

    Or maybe the protesters could widen their support base by not being so blatantly Communist?

  6. Thanks for the flattery Jackson, it’s always good to see reports that further confirm the fact that yes, the Workers Party is now the driving force behind any campaign against fee rises, along with progressive campaigns on campus in general.

    One thing I’d like to raise though. Please change the sentence that innacurately referred to Freya Eng (of all people!) as the protest leader. This protest was called by Sam Oldham in his capacity as Campaigns Officer (a position he has since resigned), and Workers Party people at short notice ended up doing the bulk of the organising for it. We supplied the placards, we supplied the megaphone, we supplied some (not the majority, but some) of the people and we, along with Sam, supplied the eggs that were thrown at the bureaucrat. We led the chants, led the march, and initiated and led the disruption of the meeting. Freya showed up, mooched about, put no visible enthusiasm into anything and then sat at the back of the room doing her own thing. She had no valuable role in the protest whatsoever, did no work in promoting it or building it and if she’s trying to claim leadership of the action (or if your trying to attribute it to her), it’s a lie.

    As for anon’s comment that “throwing eggs and fruit clearly was never going to accomplish anything”, your completely missing the point. Fees were going to be raised today regardless of whether we protested or not and none of us at the protest were ever in any doubt about that. In the absence of a mass, radical student’s movement we’re really a pretty minor threat to university management, let alone the capitalist state. What do you propose as an alternative? Write them a letter? You think if you ask them nicely and say pretty please they’ll change their minds and not raise our fees after all?

    This action was about sending a message to the university administration and anyone else that hears about it that fee rises will not go unopposed, and that the University bureaucrats can’t just waltze in, attack student’s, get paid hundreds of dollars and leave. Instead they’re going to be faced with angry students, their meeting is going to be disrupted and (hopefully!) part of their fee for being there is going to be spent on drycleaning the egg out of their suit.



  7. Oh and a second inaccuracy in your report. While we marched into the chambers chanting and I believe Matthew davis was speaking at the time, we made a conscious decision not to yell over him since he was there as a student representative and was speaking against the fee rise. People we clapping and shouting “hear hear” etc while he spoke. We began serious chanting and disruption when Pat Walsh started up.

    You were there Jackson, you know what happened. The real question is whether that rubbish is the result of a shitty memory or whether it’s a childish attempt to discredit myself and the other people who actually bothered to do something in opposition to fee rises.

  8. Chris says:

    Has Joel paid back the money he owes VUWSA yet?

  9. Harry says:

    You do a great deal to discredit yourself on your own and with the Worker’s Party Alastair, you don’t need Salient’s 2 cents.

  10. anon says:

    “As for anon’s comment that “throwing eggs and fruit clearly was never going to accomplish anything”, your completely missing the point. Fees were going to be raised today regardless of whether we protested or not and none of us at the protest were ever in any doubt about that. In the absence of a mass, radical student’s movement we’re really a pretty minor threat to university management”

    That is exactly my point Alastair!

    “What do you propose as an alternative? Write them a letter? You think if you ask them nicely and say pretty please they’ll change their minds and not raise our fees after all?”

    As an alternative, I propose doing nothing. Like you said, regardless of what happened, the fee rise would go through, and the only thing that can stop it is a large movement of students. So you have two choices: either you work towards making that large movement of students a reality, or, if you don’t think that’s likely (or worthwhile) then you ignore the fee setting and do whatever else you (or the Workers Party) thinks is more worth spending time on. The latter option was one that I chose, personally.

    Small pointless protests like today are a waste of everybody’s time. If the Workers Party thinks that the fee setting is important, and you agree that only a lot of students together could have stopped the rise, then you should have spent time this year trying to put together that large movement of students. As far as I can see, there was no point in helping to organise a protest “at short notice”.

  11. Ian Anderson says:

    Hey, if others think they have better ideas about how to oppose fee-rises, they can get involved in the organising. Or they could mock from the sidelines, either way.

  12. Jemima says:

    JJW, you better watch out, Reith might throw produce at you next.

  13. Mikey says:

    Where can you get megaphones from? I’ve always wanted one.

  14. Hank Scorpio says:



  15. Jackson isn’t worth the eggs, I’d rather just eat them.

    In answer to your question Mike, you can get megaphones on Trademe for some fairly reasonable prices, but if you want a reliable one (and if you plan on using it over a long period of time this is a must) I’d recommend getting one new.

  16. Steve says:

    Violence isn’t the answer Alistair

  17. Samuel Anderson says:

    Save the coverage in Salient, where has the coverage from VUWSA been? Where were the VUWSA posters? Where was the interaction? It seems the attempt to engage the student body, though with the right intent, was executed quite… well… mundanely. The reason nobody cares about VUWSA is because nobody knows it’s fucking there. Who the hell runs publicity down there? It’s terrible.

    Where VUWSA rubbed their shoe in the dirt and said “aw shucks, guys, don’t raise our fees,” these Workers Party nobodies have drawn attention to absolutely nothing other than themselves. Their correct belief (yeah, they were in the right about one thing) in not raising fees was smothered by hurful rhetoric and childish vandalism (and in the case of Jasmine, a deliberate assault on someone who, holy fucking shit, was batting for their side).

    White, middle-class 20-somethings talking about revolution and hardship while being completely obviously to the inherent irony of it all. You guys are so angry you don’t even know what you’re angry about.

  18. bananarama says:

    Agreed! I had no idea this was on. No students want fees to rise, but only commies and muppets turn out to the fee setting meeting.

  19. Jemima says:

    Cannibalism isn’t okay Alistair. Wow. Double burn.

    Sam: It could have been the fact that Sam Oldham, a member, but supposedly not terribly active one, of the WP was the campaigns officer. According to the minutes of last week’s exec meeting the people Oldham talked to about this protest were Alistair Reith and some Ollie guy.

    There were minimal VUWSA posters, yet the WP seem to have some nice A3 sheets to distribute to the non WP peeps at the protest…

    Workers’ Party, fucking shit up for students being taken seriously since before “I <3 MY PENIS".

  20. Michael Oliver says:

    Council meeting should’ve had a sausage sizzle. Kids love their saussies.

  21. Phoenix says:

    So it was YOU idiots who were disrupting my study on Monday. Nice to know. I hate the idea of fee increases as much as the next student, but when you engage in a protest which you yourself admit was never going to change anything, and disrupt the study that I am meanwhile still paying for, I fail to see the benefit to anyone.

    And while I’m here – People complain about fee increases. But people also complain about the shit that budget cuts are causing all over the University. The Uni’s trying to do the best it can with what it’s got to work with. You shouldn’t be throwing eggs at them, throw eggs at the government who’ve left students high and dry. Kia ora, Tolley, kia ora.

  22. Alpha says:

    Of course, the only reason they can throw eggs and fruit is because Comrade Napoleon – GLORIOUS Comrade Napoleon – RASIED the egg ration from 6 eggs to 5.

  23. Caroline Hutton says:

    I resent the increase in VUWSA fees most of all. When Cosgrove was president and sucking up money from cash poor students, he did F…All. Nor even take the time to reply/respond to emails regarding theft of books from paid for lockers by student service staff member.
    But on that note of Cosgrave, congratulations buddy, you got your name in the paper. That’s what its all about , narcissim and notoriety.

  24. vegan poet says:

    “It was quite a substantial orange”

    which someone allegedly flung

    it was found to be two point five ounces

    (for an orange that’s pretty well hung)

    It was quite a substantial orange

    thick rinded and rather acidic

    with hard little pips in a bitter juice

    like nonalcoholic glenfidich

    It was quite a substantial orange

    and it parted the president’s hair

    as any substantial fruit would do

    when skilfully thrown through the air

    It was quite a substantial orange

    procured at substantial expense

    but not quite substantial enough, I’m afraid,

    to knock in an iota of sense.

  25. Freya Eng says:

    I was just alerted to Alastair Reith and another student’s comment about me and VUWSA by a friend and I’d like to respond.

    1. Alastair, if you knew anything about – well, anything – you would know that the University has a Student Protests Policy. In said policy, there must be a designated protest leader. This is so there is a contact point between the University and the protesters. This enables communication and, whilst not restricting our right to protest, allows us to do so in a reasonable and mature fashion.

    Traditionally, the fee setting protest leader is the Campaigns Officer. Since Sam had resigned earlier that morning, I agreed with Jasmine that I would take the his place, and the consequent responsibility (which is outlined in the policy). I believe it important that a protest leader exist in order to protect the rights and safety of the protesters.

    It is my right to protest, but I do not have to engage in the actions of other protesters if I disagree with them. As soon as I became aware that you Workers Party people had eggs and such like, I was sickeningly embarrassed and did everything in my power to notify the University. I stand by this, as I do not believe that throwing eggs is an intelligent or constructive way of getting your point across. In fact, I believe it to be quite pathetic and immature. Just as throwing an orange at the back of Jasmine’s head was. Cowardly.

    Because I oppose the fee rises, but realise the wider political and financial context that the University is in, I exercised my right to join the protest, but in a civilised, mature and dignified way. My presence, I believe, was enough to get the point across. It did more than your juvenile egg-throwing did, because the Council members are much more likely to respect the views of people who conducted themselves the way I, and the other half of the protest, did.

    Anyway, I just wanted to point out that I stand by my actions, and take absolutely no responsibility for yours, for I find them despicable.

    2. On another point that someone has mentioned – yes indeed VUWSA could have done better at promoting this event to other students. In fact, Jasmine and myself held numerous ‘Fee Setting organising meetings’ with the Campaigns Team in the months leading up to fee setting. You can see proof of this on our work reports on the website. We intended for this year to be quite a successful protest. It is the Campaigns Team’s responsibility to follow through with the tasks delegated to them. They did not. You can speak to Sam Oldham about that as, in his role as Campaigns Officer, he was ultimately responsible for this.


    Freya – Vice President (Education) of VUWSA.

  26. Freya Eng says:

    Oh, and yes, you most certainly did chant over Matthew Davis’ speech. I was there. You stopped after a while, but it did take surprisingly long for you to work out that he was speaking against the fee rise, even though by that point he’d explicitly said so a number of times.

    I’m pretty sure Jackson has more important things to do than make up minor details in articles that make you look bad. Besides, you do well for yourselves to that end, without help from Salient.

  27. Eggs and Oranges says:

    ‘I’m pretty sure Jackson has more important things to do than make up minor details in articles that make you look bad.’

    Hasn’t stopped him from doing this most of the time nor his girlfriend as they are obsessed with Joel and the WP…

  28. Hank Scorpio says:

    from the workers party press release:

    “While this was happening they were yelling through the door in an abusive, aggressive manner that as she was Joel’s girlfriend she was also trespassed. Escaping in a friends car she was shadowed for sometime by the two men who followed her in a large, black SUV.”

    bahaha a fucking suv

    the goddamn FBI is onto you

  29. Yournamehere says:

    “White, middle-class 20-somethings talking about revolution and hardship while being completely obviously to the inherent irony of it all. You guys are so angry you don’t even know what you’re angry about.” – Sam Anderson

    Are you referring to VUWSA officials or Joel? Coz it seems more like Joel, but why would you say that about your dear leader?

  30. lol says:

    Yeah, Joel’s a Trust Fund baby. That’s the irony of the lot of them – they’re all as middle class as it gets. Alastair Reith went to a private school.

  31. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Samuel / lol: Being white and/or middle-class whilst preaching about revolution does not in itself denote hypocricy; Siddhartha Gautama was a nobleman’s son, after all. If Joel and Alistair were extolling the virtues of socialism whilst playing the stockmarket in their spare time, THEN i’d be more inclined to give credence to this counter-argument.

    In saying that, I agree that their actions were abhorrent and completely contrary to rational debate. Claiming one’s right to freedom of speech whilst denying that same right to others via a shower of abuse and fresh produce is a blatant contradiction. Despite the fact that you may vehemently disagree with those who seek to increase fees and the student services levy (what student doesn’t), they have just as much a right to voice their opinion as others. Shouting over the top of them and randomly pelting them with fruit accomplishes nothing (especially when said shouting and pelting was also directed against those who were, in fact, on the same side as you). Actions like these do nothing but tarnish the image of the student body – especially when they are undertaken knowing full well that they will accomplish nothing.

    Cheers, Matt.

  32. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Oh, and Alistair, nice to see you’ve learnt how to correctly spell “bureaucrat” – you’ve certainly come a long way from anonymously abusing VUWSA staff on public facebook pages.

  33. You have no idea how much your approval means to me Matthew.

  34. Ross says:

    You have no idea how much your communist diatribe means to me Alastair.

  35. Fud, fud, fud… oh yeah OH YEAH that shit makes me so wet

  36. I live to please Ross.

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