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March 29, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Last chance to save student representation

President's column

Very soon National Party MPs will decide whether they are going to support the ACT Party’s to destroy accountable student representation and student-run student services at Victoria. National want to hear what you think about it. I think you should write a submission against this Bill that would put an end to Universal Student Membership. You can do that by going to before Wednesday.

In order for you to make an informed decision, I thought I would offer you a list of what is at stake.

If this Bill goes through you:

  • May end up paying more money, as the University decides to pick up lost services but cannot pull on volunteer labour.
  • Will lose your voice. No longer would you have an effective say in how your money is spent, the Universities decisions and your own education. Unfair decisions will be made undisturbed and eventually the quality of education will slip as the University meets its other priorities. You will be taxed without representation.

You will lose these services:


  • Representation on Faculty Boards, Academic Committee, Academic Board, VUW Council, disciplinary hearings, serious misconduct hearings, the Joint Student Union Board (retail, Rec Centre etc.) and many other boards. Student representatives advocate to ensure that your education is a priority and well-funded, that students are treated fairly, that academic and non-academic facilitates are available and good decisions are made.
  • Coordination, training and support of over the 800 student representatives every year.
  • Funding and support for over a dozen Representative Groups (including the Law Students’ Society, the Postgraduate Students’ Association, and UniQ etc.).
  • Representation and advocacy both within the University and externally on issues affecting students (ranging from student employment to library provisions)
  • Funding and support for NZUSA – our national voice that won us interest-free student loans, capped university fees, scholarship, quality assessment, countless student welfare and support issues since 1929.
  • The shared oversight of the Student Services Levy and the services it fund including Student Health, Counselling, Careers, Finance, Learning Support and Disability Services.

Student Advocate

  • Our full-time professional student advocates. Our advocates can support and advocate on behalf of students concerning both internal and external student grievances. The advocate keeps the University honest and ensures that students are treated fairly and not taken advantage of.

Welfare Services

  • Free Bread twice a week.
  • A food bank service every day at Kelburn and at slightly different times at Karori and Pipitea.
  • Campus Angels (now operating from 3 Campuses), which was a service set-up in response to concerns over student safety when they leave our campuses at night.
  • Free Bus tickets for students who study at more than one campus such as Karori.
  • Free Flu Shots.
  • Funding and support for Student Job Search .

Publications and Student Media

  • Production and distribution of welfare and education related publications. The VUWSA Alternative Student Guide provides an invaluable guide to what student actually think about the course they have taken.  The VUWSA Cookbook, the International Students’ Guide, the Sexual Health Guide are some of our welfare publications.
  • Salient, the award winning student magazine.
  • VBC 88.3FM, your student radio station.
  • Production and distribution of the annual Handbook Diary and Wall Planner.

Campus Events, Clubs and Student Experience

  • Funding and support for over 80 sports and cultural clubs.
  • Printing and faxes for all students and student groups.
  • Coordinated and subsidies for Victoria teams attending annual sporting events, including but not limited to University Games and Snow Games
  • Funding and support for University Sport New Zealand that enables national competition and support for all types of clubs on campus
  • Orientation, Re-Orientation, and regular events and activities throughout the year making our time at university a little less dry.

Major building projects

  • The building of the Student Union Building, the Library and the Recreation Centre.
  • VUWSA is currently undergoing a major project to upgrade and reinvigorate the Kelburn campus area. It is called the Campus Hub Project) and it will give students a vibrant campus. VUWSA has ensured that students have the chance to be consulted at all stages of the project.
  • VUWSA through our Trust is providing the funding to upgrade the decapitated Boyd-Wilson Field.

Commercial services

  • VUWSA owns VicBooks. Which means we ensure that textbook prices are moderated

Other services

  • Provision of subsidized car parks and lockers at all campuses.

Roger Douglas’ Bill was not designed to free you from the chains you never knew you had, but rather a cynical attempt to silence your voice, both locally and nationally, to take collective decision making out of student hands and put it into that of the politicians.


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Comments (13)

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  1. peteremcc says:

    Why are VUWSA campaigning against the bill, when students voted democratically at the SGM to have VUWSA support the bill?

    Does the democratic view of students only matter when the students agree with what the executive want?

  2. peteremcc says:

    Now for a more detailed rebuttal of your ridiculous claims:

    “May end up paying more money, as the University decides to pick up lost services but cannot pull on volunteer labour.”

    This assumes that VUWSA suddenly ceases to exist, which is ridiculous. AUSA moved to voluntary membership and basically carried on unaffected. Are you saying you are such a crap president that VUWSA would collapse if you weren’t able to force people to join? And why would people stop volunteering for VUWSA once VUWSA becomes voluntary? And don’t you see the irony in that statement? Why don’t we just force every student to volunteer for VUWSA, then everything would be cheaper? Why so many questions?

    “Will lose your voice.”

    What if we don’t want you to be our voice?

    “Representation on…”

    Really? How much does that cost? Why would it disappear? Again, AUSA are voluntary yet they somehow still manage to provide representatives to university boards and positions.


    See above.


    Students cans till join and support these organisations, they just wont be forced to anymore.

    “Representation and advocacy”

    See AUSA again.

    “Funding and support for NZUSA”

    You mean that crazy left wing association that thinks all education should be free, which even Labour realise is crazy? Why should the majority of students be forced to fund advertising for your crazy left wing policies?

    “The shared oversight ”

    As you’ve admitted you don’t actually have any of this money, meaning none of those services would be affected, and why would VUWSA’s oversight of these funds be affected by becoming voluntary?

    “Student Advocate”

    Again, see AUSA.

    “Welfare Services”

    All these are really cheap to provide, so why would they disappear under VSM? Or are you as President planning to do what some universities in australia did and cut funding to clubs and welfare in favour of political campaign budgets and NZUSA funding?

    “Publications and Student Media”

    Salient and VBC are already available free to anyone in Wellington (Salient distributed in town and Radio waves travel), never mind on the internet, and a wider readership only increases advertising revenue.

    “Campus Events, Clubs and Student Experience”

    *sigh*, see AUSA AGAIN.

    “Major building projects”

    Yeah, what proportion of the cost is VUWSA covering for these, aye?

    “VUWSA owns VicBooks. Which means we ensure that textbook prices are moderated ”

    Really? I’ve always found VicBooks to be more expensive than the alternatives in town.

    “Provision of subsidized car parks and lockers at all campuses.”

    Why should I pay for other people to park their car? Aren’t we meant to be saving the world from climate change or something, so shouldn’t they pay more?

    VSM doesn’t take power away from students and give it to politicians as you keep ridiculously claiming. It takes power away from the majority of students and gives it back to individual students.

  3. save vuwsa says:

    picture of the above commenter’s face whilst writing the above comment:

  4. peteremcc says:

    Wow, fantastic point.

    Your debate has convinced me to change my mind, well done.

  5. smackdown says:

    lmao milkshakes got trolled

  6. Clive says:

    Peter – I totally support your stance on this issue. Once this campaign is over I’m wondering if you’d be keen to utilize the same energy working on my new campaign. I’m currently working on a campaign on a smiler issue to do with mainstream business associations. They also have referendums to decide if they can levy all the business on a mainstream. Its absolutely outrageous. Keen to help with this campaign? I’m calling it “Support Choice for Businesses – Support Voluntary Business Associations”

  7. Great post! I was looking forward and didn’t expect to see it so soon! Again, great, sound advice. Looking forward to read more under those new tabs you added!


  8. Kiwi says:

    The argument for and against VSM is obviously one that everyone feels passionate about. So much so, that the argument above has dropped to petty levels.

    So, to bring it back to the actual argument – this article claims that students will lose all these key services listed above because of Roger Douglas’ Bill. Now in writing this article the author has made a key assumption – that if students are given a choice, they will not pay their association fees.

    Let’s get this clear. The Bill does not ban students’ associations and therefore does not prevent these services from being provided. What the Bill does, is give students the right to decide for themselves whether they want to be a member and therefore whether they want to pay the fees. If students value the services above then there is nothing stopping them from paying the students’ association to carry out these very tasks.

    If the services listed above are truly that important to students – as the association claims – then students will see the fees they have to pay in order to get these services as being value for money. The association should have no trouble surviving after the introduction of VSM.

    The real reason students’ associations are kicking up such a fuss about VSM is that they are truly worried: What if the services listed above are not actually what students want? What if students don’t see it as being value for money? What if students don’t pay? What will we do? These are the questions that will be keeping student politicians awake at night.

    Remember, there is nothing in the Bill that mandates the end of students’ associations. It merely gives students the right to decide whether they want to belong to the association or not.

    I can understand why opponents of VSM are running scared. I mean, what organisation wants to find out that they are offering something that no one wants?

    Recently, Waikato Uni’s Nexus magazine interviewed WSU President Deni Tokunai on the issue of VSM. I think this is an excellent article and shows the benefit VSM has had, and Roger’s Bill hasn’t even been passed yet.

    The following is taken from the article: “WSU has decided that their main goal for this year will be sustainability. WSU will be looking for other sources of sustainable income other than membership fees. A trust has been established with the dual purpose of protecting the WSU’s assets, and also, hopefully, generating an “income that will in about five to ten years will make up 80% of our income, ultimately leading to student association fees being free.” If this initiative succeeds it will mean the WSU will be able to operate without student’s money, and will survive regardless of whether or not the VSM bill is passed.”

    Rather than waste time scaremongering or getting into slanging matches with opponents, Waikato students’ association is reviewing their organisation in order to adapt to the possibility of VSM.

    Who will ultimately benefit from this? Waikato Uni students of course, who will be able to get the services listed above, at minimal to nil cost. This may never have happened if it were not for Roger’s Bill.

    So, students of Victoria University, it’s time to ask yourselves: why is VUWSA kicking up such a fuss and when WSU isn’t?

    Why is WSU working on finding a way forward, when VUWSA seems intent on maintaining the status quo?

    I know which one I would rather belong to.

  9. J says:

    AUSA actually own things on campus (like their bar) that they make money from so can survive. other than vic books vuwsa dont own dick, so will fail.

  10. s says:

    Except millions of dollars of course

  11. Deni Tokunai says:

    I thought I’d chip in here to make a few things clear, particularly as my comments have been taken out of context on a number of forums–Salient’s website having the potential to follow suit.

    My sole concern here is Kiwi’s reference to a Nexus article in which I was interviewed, more specifically, in regards to one of my goals for WSU this year–sustainability.

    I want to make it clear that Roger Douglas’ bill was not the reason why we set up a Trust for Waikato students. Plans to do so were in place before Roger’s bill was drawn and before VSM was again on the political agenda. Furthermore, despite whether or not Roger’s bill was drawn, WSU would still have established the Trust with the exact same objectives and strategic goals. In other words, the establishment of the Trust or the move toward sustainability was not a reaction to VSM or Roger’s bill, but a practical step in a strategic framework to consolidate our assets for the sole benefit of our students now, and for those who are yet to come.


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