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August 2, 2010 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]



Student culture. It’s something we’re in dire need of here at Vic.

We just don’t have any. And we haven’t had any for quite some time.

There’s not much that brings the 25,000 students at Vic together—except the fact that we are all enrolled at the same university.

It’s quite easy to walk to uni each day, go to class and go home again, without interacting with anyone. I’m fairly certain I’ve been guilty of that in my time here.

There’s no reason to stay on campus, unless you’re in need of the library or a computer. Until the opening of the coffee shop at Vic Books at the beginning of this year, the coffee has been shit, prompting many a student to venture into town for a caffeine fix. I’m not even going to comment on the state of the food on campus.

If you’ve been flicking through Salient this semester, you have probably come across Academic Idol. Heck, you may have even voted. It was an idea pioneered in 2006 under the editorship of James Robinson. So why do it again? Last time around students mobilised in their droves, voting, launching support campaigns and generally getting behind something that brought together the somewhat aloof schools in this university. It bridged the gap between students and their lecturers. For once. And that’s cool. There’s not enough of that. And that’s why we’re doing it again.

Kia ora to everyone, lecturers included, who have totally got into this Academic Idol thing. Judging by the response thus far, it’s probably going to top the 2006 competition. And I’m more than happy to put money on more people voting in Academic Idol than in the VUWSA by-election.

In the past, student culture has very much centred around the students’ association—yes, even here at Vic. VUWSA used to be cool. Read A Radical Tradition. These days, VUWSA is not the bastion of student culture it once was, no doubt partly due to the misdemeanors of some exec members that have been reported in the pages of Salient over the last four and a half years.

Voting in the VUWSA by-election opened last Thursday. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve missed that news flash. Beyond the news pages of Salient, there hasn’t been much advertising or promotion of the by-election. You got an email about it. But you might have deleted it by accident. Or it went to your junk mail. If the email managed to make it to your inbox and survive the email cull, did you even bother to vote? I guess we’ll wait with baited breath for the results and voter turnout figures on Thursday.

For me, the low point of this entire by-election fiasco was the candidates’ forum at Mount Street last week. The forum was mentioned in Salient’s by-election news coverage and VUWSA had a full-page ad in the magazine last week—complete with glaring grammatical error—advising students the forum was on. But only six people showed up. People I talked to who were sitting on the couches had no idea there was a forum on, and politely went about finishing their lunch or beers in blissful ignorance.

More surprising was the fact that only four of the nine candidates standing bothered to make an appearance. But even if they had bothered to show, no one would have been able to hear a word of what they were saying—there was no microphone. What is the problem here? VUWSA wants students to engage, VUWSA wants students to participate, VUWSA wants students to have their say and vote. But where is the concerted action to make this happen?

If VUWSA wants students to engage, they need to get students to care. At the moment they’re not really giving students much reason to do so. Without a strong sense of student culture on campus, this is admittedly hard to do. But VUWSA needs to establish itself as part of what student culture we do have. With VSM on the horizon, this is going to be ever more crucial.

If you still don’t give a fuck about VUWSA, please at least vote in Academic Idol this week. Make dreams come true. Check out page 16.


About the Author ()

Editor for 2010, politics nerd, panda fan and three-time award-winning student journalist.

Comments (8)

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  1. Firstyear says:

    Sarah, no wonder why students don’t give a shit. Look at your crap editorial. Maybe if you and your reporters had some objective reporting then us students might have more faith in our student’s association. I used to not have a clue about most of the stuff VUWSA did until I went to a VUWSA event and realised that you fail to mention so many active things that VUWSA does.

    Even stuff that is short term etc.

    Please improve. I have lost more faith in my student magazine, than the association that funds my student magazine.

    Just sayin’

  2. Adam says:

    If VUWSA does so much amazing stuff, why don’t they go out of their way to tell us about it? It’s their job. As weird as it sounds to you, Sarah’s right – VUWSA’s meant to be out there making themselves a vital part of the student body, not fart-assing around waiting for students to come to them. And anyway, blaming the editor of Salient for a lack of student culture at Vic is like blaming the pimply kid serving you at KFC for a price hike on their burgers.

    Besides, I like the editorial. I think it’s neat.

  3. smackdown says:

    big news story – vuwsa speed dating huge fun.
    big news story – vuwsa giving free bread
    big news story – alan young helps carry microwave to kirk building

    yeah man heaps of good scoops down vuwsa way big scoops the best scoops

  4. Jimbo says:

    Hey, firstyear, Care to clarify what parts of this editorial are inaccurate? Because it seems like a perfectly reasonable commentary from where I’m sitting. Salient seems to offer VUWSA numerous opportunities to engage with students, but they haven’t a clue how to reach students on their level. It’s an association in dire need of a PR overhaual.

  5. Electrum Stardust says:

    People really should stop pointing the finger at others, for the problem is a truly huge one; in fact it goes deep into the very fabric of contemporary society itself. In an age where education is seen primarily (if not solely) as just a means to gaining “employment”, and which “success” is therefore measured in purely “economic” terms, it is small wonder that students (who after all cannot be detached from society as a whole) care little about much else. The prevalent alienation and atomisation of “individuals” brought about by capitalism and consumerism are very much present on campuses as well.

    That said, if any change is to happen at all, university students (and the intellectual community as a whole) will have to play a central role — somehow.

    Good editorial, by the way.

  6. smackdown says:

    the revolution is happening at my house this weekend ur all invited

  7. Electrum Stardust says:

    Can’t make it (too busy). Hope it will be televised.

  8. smackdown says:

    replay of revolution sky sport 2 at 3pm

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