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May 31, 2010 | by  | in News | [ssba]

OUSA President upset by bad news story

Blames Salient

Otago University, the Dunedin City Council and the Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) have come under tough scrutiny after Otago student magazine Critic revealed they collectively spent $40,000 on a four-and-a-half-page report on student drinking.

It appears that no concrete guidelines, expectations or clear terms of reference were given at the start of the trip.

Following a damning report in the Herald on Sunday last week, all parties are in damage control, maintaining that their contributions to the project were worthwhile.

The University and the Dundedin City Council spent $20,000 and $17,000 respectively. OUSA contributed a further $3000 from its professional development line.

A spokeswoman for the Vice-Chancellor’s office said that the ongoing contribution of OUSA staffer Vanessa Reddy, who used the money for a year-long tour of American universities, will be more significant than simply a written report. An Alcohol Issues Task Force has already been established based on the report’s findings.

Speaking to the Herald, Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin seemed unaware of the funding input of the Dunedin City Council. “The… huh… I can’t recall the details of the funding, that was not something that I personally had anything…”

Chin explained to the Herald, “I’m not aware of the full details of… Clearly by if it was paid by us, I accept it was paid. In terms of the management of that, which budgets, that’s not something that I recall that I actually had anything to do with.”

OUSA President Harriet Geoghegan maintains that despite media criticism that the report was insufficient given the money put into it, she would prefer an easily “digestable” report than a “waffly 40-page report”.

Geoghegan does not mince words when discussing the Herald article.

“I am really disappointed that the journalist misquoted and got facts wrong,” she says. “I explained [it all] to him but still he made it look as though we sent her off and spent $40k—seemed to be a real jab, and wasn’t surprising to find out he used to work for Salient.”

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