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March 8, 2010 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

More bang for your buck: Salient mystery shoppers take on VUWSA

This year, the chances are rather high that you paid a levy to the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA). Salient roving reporters Elle Hunt and Molly McCarthy show you how to get your money’s worth.

Each year you’re charged $139.20 just for being you—that is, a full-time student of Victoria University. This is a lot of money: in some cases, a week’s rent; in others, a whole lot of Flames. What is this mysterious and substantial charge? Where does it go?

That $139.20 is a subscription fee that enables VUWSA to organise events and services that promise to make your tertiary life easier—and yet, many students are unaware of the very existence of these resources, let alone how to take part in them. Let us show you just how easy it is to make the most of what VUWSA has to offer.

Clubs: Boxing Gloves

VUWSA supports 80-odd clubs on campus that cater to most interests. There’s the Society for the Study of Consciousness, the Popping Club, even Killing As Organised Sport. Out of this wide selection, we chose to attend Vic’s Boxing Club, held at Gloves Boxing Gym in Mount Cook. A couple of butterfly/bee mantras later, Molly and I were ready to spar. (Is that the right word? ‘Spar’?)

Our introduction to the sport was Friday’s Fit Class for beginners, offered four times a week, and it went excellently. We were taught the basics (Jab! Cross! Left hook! Right hook!), paired into lethal twosomes, and told to let loose that pent-up aggression on the bags. We felt every cent of that $139.20 afterwards, as well as a lot more serene. Cheaper than therapy!

Clubs: Debating Society

They call themselves a sports team.

Although the classification of Victoria’s Debating Society as a sport remains a moot point, DebSoc is the university’s oldest society, as well as one of the most active. For a mere $15, members can enjoy weekly debates on racy topics, such as the promotion of sex tourism, participation in tournaments, opportunity for overseas travel, and discounted drinks at the Society’s bar of choice. (This round’s on VUWSA!)

Like many clubs, DebSoc can, at times, be a little heavy on the in-jokes between long-standing members, but newcomers are warmly welcomed and offered extensive training through semester one’s Pro-Am Tournament, where amateurs are teamed with one of DebSoc’s old-handers.

And with opportunities like that, this mystery shopper is likely to be making a second purchase in the near future.


Call us biased, but really, what can we say—Salient is the bee’s knees and the cat’s pyjamas, and we’ve got a truckload of ASPA awards to prove it. Heed the plastic tiger’s plea, and start writing for us: after all, Salient is only as good as its contributors. It’s excellent experience for anyone looking to enter the media industry, especially as a journalist, and volunteers get free pizza on Thursdays. What more do you want?

Free flu shots

Free flu shots are offered over a period of a week in Trimester One, and judging by the queues, they are very popular. Don’t even bother going at a ‘funny time’ to beat the crowd; take the Dominion Post—or, if you’re keen, some readings—and join the line. I was inoculated last year, and I didn’t get the flu, despite living in a hall of residence, where sickness spreads like wildfire. If that’s testament to the jab’s effectiveness, it’s definitely worth the half-hour wait: prevention is better than cure, and there’s nothing worse than working on a last-minute assignment with blocked sinuses.

Free bus passes

It was with a little shame that I handed over my timetables at the Kelburn VUWSA office to receive my free bus pass. Although I meet the conditions of having to travel between campuses in the same day at least 3 times a week, my trip is downhill, from Kelburn to Pipitea, and I have at least two hours and fifty minutes in which to complete each of these journeys. But apparently VUWSA doesn’t discriminate against lazy lard-asses—I only had to fill out a form and hurrah, a ten-trip bus ticket was handed over to me. Pipitea and podginess, here I come!

Student diary and wallplanner

Despite the high volume of advertising featured in both of these free VUWSA products, the diary and wall-planner are two very handy items that your $139.20 VUWSA subscription fee paid for. Don’t want your friends to know that you have VUWSA stationery? Cut the advertising away from the edge of the wall-planner and you’ve got yourself one very attractive calendar. The diary is even produced in ring-bound format, making it easy to tear out the 52 pages of information about VUWSA at the start (to pin to your notice-board, of course).

VUWSA Food Bank

Once you’re out of your hall of residence, keeping the pantry stocked becomes a real issue. For the weeks when it’s a toss-up between frozen peas and an onion for dinner, there’s the Food Bank. Turn up to a VUWSA office on Friday between 12 and 2pm, fill out a form about your financial situation, and receive food. It’s that simple, and it could mean the difference between a jar of pickles that you inherited with your flat, or an actual filling and nutritious meal.

Campus Angels

Realise you’ve been studying too late at the library and now have to face a cold, dark and creepy trip home? Well, VUWSA has just the thing for you—a band of Campus Angels stationed at Kelburn, Pipitea and Te Aro libraries, who are able to walk you—for free—to the nearest bus stop or even to your very doorstep (maximum 30 minute return trip). We’re hoping these Angels are good at small talk because otherwise the trip home could be more than a little awkward. Although we failed to test the service, we’ve heard a rumour that one of the Angels is quite the angel himself, so more late-night study sessions could be planned for 2010…

VUWSA Free Bread Service

At university far earlier than I normally would be on a Wednesday morning, I waited with the starving masses in the Kelburn VUWSA foyer for a free loaf of bread from our benevolent student association. Having been tipped off to arrive early, at 8.45am there were 4 of us, when the doors opened at 9am our numbers had grown to 19. Our group included a barefoot man who, somewhat perplexingly, was already eating bread. He spent most of the waiting time discussing the collective hardship of the group and drawing links between us and the impoverished of Somalia and Russia.

Despite having to giveth and fill out a form before we could receive, the bread itself was of a surprisingly high quality. A wide variety of loaves were on offer, including pull-apart rounds and fruit loaf—we were allowed to take two loaves—and we were even given plastic bags to carry them in. Cheers for the noms, VUWSA!

All in all, Molly and I feel VUWSA have spent our $139.20 wisely—and that’s not even taking into account the peer advocacy service; Student Job Search; the free breakfasts in Study Week; the Women’s Room; help with tax returns; van, trailer; car parks and locker hire; and photocopying. VUWSA has a lot to offer, and you’ve already paid for it, so why not make the most of it?


About the Author ()

Elle started out at Salient reviewing music. In 2010, she wrote features and Animal of The Week, which an informal poll revealed to be 40% of Victoria students' favourite part of the magazine. Alongside Uther Dean, she was co-editor for 2011. In 2012, she is chief features writer.

Comments (2)

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  1. peteremcc says:

    DebSoc is $25 this year. :)

  2. Miller says:


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