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October 11, 2010 | by  | in News | [ssba]

The year in news with Molly McCarthy

Often overlooked by most students, Salient’s news section has been ripe with gossip, scandal and a whole lotta lols for the most part of 2010. Too lazy to keep up with the weekly tomfoolery at VUWSA, government plots against students, university blunders and in-jokes of the Salient office? Fair. I get paid to be interested in this stuff. But some of what gets printed on these fine pages is actually important and affects you—and your bank balance—on a daily basis. So settle down, get comfortable and prepare yourselves for the whirlwind ride that is The Year in News…


Late in the month the elusive Tertiary Education Minister Anne Tolley handed over the portfolio to Transport Minister Steven Joyce. Under her reign students saw cuts to night classes, the removal of consumer price index adjustments for tertiary funding, and no more Studylink Step-Up and Bonded Merit Scholarships. Too busy fobbing off national standards onto reluctant primary school teachers, Tolley had cancelled numerous speeches at universities and interviews with student media, giving only one interview—to Otago’s Critic—during her time as Tertiary Education Minister. Where Tolley had failed to make contact however, we would certainly be hearing a lot more from Joyce in the months to come…


As your last month of freedom sailed past, new Salient Editor Sarah Robson, still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, pieced together the first issue of the magazine for 2010. Her mental health, attention to personal appearance and ability to string together a sentence was to deteriorate quickly in the coming months.

In a speech to Parliament, John Key foreshadowed dramatic changes to the student loan scheme, saying that something simply had to be done about those who “refuse to take their tertiary studies seriously”. Gulp.


University started for the year, students were optimistic, courses still seemed cool, the sun was still shining and course-related costs were yet to be plundered. Most of us lived in happy ignorance of the bevvy of
changes that would soon face the tertiary sector. But while you wondered whether your summer tan had started to fade and vowed that this year you would start essays before the night before they were
due, all was not quiet on the news front.

Joyce picked up where Key had left off and confirmed a proposal of many students’ worst fears—student loans based on academic performance.

NZUSA got scared of the Voluntary Student Membership (VSM) monster hiding under its bed and launched a Save our Services’ campaign.

VUWSA failed to meet quorum at their Initial General Meeting (IGM) and re-scheduled for April. Earth Hour took place without much consequence, except that the world discovered Rick Giles. Campaigning for his ‘Edison Hour’ alternative, then-ACT on Campus President Giles made national news with his argument that was “so powerful that it’s not necessary to talk about it”. His wisdom was swiftly captured on a Mr Vintage tee, but poor Giles was toppled from his role and replaced by Victoria’s own Peter McCaffrey.

VUWSA President Max Hardy bit the bullet and announced that VUWSA would lay a wreath at ANZAC day, having learnt from the mistakes of ghosts of presidents past.


Easter and the mid-trimester break came and went in a blur of chocolate and too many assignments. “It’s not a holiday as such, but a study break,” our lecturers warned. Pfft, whatever.

Back from the break, Victoria’s Architecture and Design School proved its merit when a team was accepted as one of only 20 worldwide to take part in the annual US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

Joyce continued to make threats about nasty changes to the student loan scheme, many of which were to come into force later in the year.

VUWSA failed again to hold its IGM when the elusive quorum declined to make an appearance. Maybe third time lucky, VUWSA?


Making things hard for students seemed to be the flavour of the month, with alcohol age legislation changes, tertiary funding cuts in the budget and the early closing of enrolments on the agenda. A Law
Commission Report re-ignited the debate about raising the alcohol purchase age and student groups rallied together to oppose a change. The 2010 Budget brought a raft of changes that would prove unpleasant
for students, including performance requirements for—and lifetime limits on—student loans. In short, if you were failing, or intended to stay at university for a double degree, honours and masters, things were looking pretty grim. Victoria University closed enrolments to new students for the remainder of 2010, when
it was discovered that the university just didn’t have the dollah, dollah billz, yo.

The first Select Committee hearing on the VSM bill was held, which marked the beginning of a process that would be dragged out until late September.

On a lighter note, Wishbone opened on campus, hundreds of students graduated and VUWSA finally managed to meet quorum and hold its IGM.


Most of June was spent studying, sitting exams and celebrating the freedom that comes with being on holiday between trimesters (unless you’re unfortunate enough to have to take full-year papers). Nothing interesting happened, and, even if it did, you were probably too drunk to realise.


The start of the second trimester saw a new wave of optimism among students. Even if you hadn’t taken proper notes/prepared for tutorials/started assignments early last semester, there was still another half of 2010 in which to make yourself the perfect student. With the benefit of hindsight, there was no way things were ever going to change, but at least we can dream, right?

July was an exciting month for VUWSA, who finally managed to organise a by-election to fill the vacant positions on the VUWSA Exec. Clubs Officer Fraser Pearce made things difficult for everyone by resigning a week after nominations opened, meaning that the exec had to co-opt Marsha Kupriyenko into the role
instead of allowing it to be contested at the by-election.

Students were given the opportunity to bitch and moan about the $500 student services levy in the SSALAC consultation, he results of which would come in handy when VUWSA negotiated fees with the
university in September.

Joyce spoke at Victoria, proposing a number of changes to the tertiary sector that would be implemented in the coming months. Following the government’s decision to base access to student loans on the academic performance of students, Joyce announced his intention to extend this practice to universities, who would
soon have to vie for funding by improving their purported performance.


VUWSA successfully held its by-election, no confidence failed to win a significant number of votes, and all vacant positions were filled.

Brad Pitt was rumoured to have touched down in Wellington and Salient bid on, won and had delivered a garlic naan that he purportedly ate half of. Miraculously, it has yet to grow any mould. On a sadder note, the library cat and university mascot Sandy Rankine passed away after a long and happy life.

August was also the month in which the government became obsessed with student loan debt, with Key visiting Weir House and musing on the possibility of re-introducing interest to student loans and Peter Dunne announcing his plans to track down overseas student loan debt. Yeah Dunne, like that was ever going to work.

University Hall closed the doors on applications from groups of domestic students for 2011, pissing off those
who had their sights set on one of the university’s 52 student flats.

Joyce confirmed the changes he had hinted at earlier in the year, announcing that from 2012, five per cent of university funding would be based on universities’ performance, as assessed by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).


Christchurch’s 7.1 earthquake left the country feeling shaken, University of Canterbury students without a study week and, with the passing of the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act, New Zealand’s democratic integrity in tatters.

Victoria announced the introduction of a new Hall of Residence for first years to have awkward, drunken sex
in; Winston Peters turned up at Vic, apparently forgetting that the average age of his supporters is three times that of most students; and the university closed most cafes on campus to make way for the Campus Hub Redevelopment, depriving students of much-needed noms.

A former student took the university to court to challenge a plagiarism finding made against her, and the Salient website was bombarded with comments about how hot she was.

Nine Salient staff travelled to Auckland for the Aotearoa Student Press Association Awards, scoring second in the Best Publication category, four first placings, and twelve placings overall. The
Select Committee report on the VSM bill was returned to Parliament with both the Committee’s and National government’s approval. Students’ associations freaked the fuck out while right-wing student
politicians celebrated.

The university confirmed a four per cent increase in fees for 2011, but did not increase the student services levy, thanks to the results of the SSALAC Consultation and significant campaigning by VUWSA.


Most of the news for October was preoccupied with the VUWSA General Elections, which culminated in the results being announced over an hour late in Mount Street Bar last Thursday. For full details see page 8, there’s no way I’m writing all of that out again.

Well readers, it’s been a pleasure taking you on this journey through the news you could use in 2010. Funny, crazy, scary, stupid—the news is many things, but most of all, it is stuff that actually happened that you should be interested in. So if you’re planning on re-modelling yourself as a perfect student for 2011, don’t bother—it’s never going to happen. But do read the news, because it’ll take you to some magical, magical places.


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Comments (5)

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  1. Seamus says:

    We only held two IGMs this year – the first just falling short of quorum, but the second on did reached quorum.

  2. Miller says:

    Thanks Seamus, I’ll let the town crier know.

  3. smackdown says:

    its a shameful thing

  4. smackdown says:

    the news took me to fantasy land in hastings that was a magical place

    fuck splashplanet more like not-so-flash planet amirite

  5. smackdown says:

    news also took me to hogworts 2 see harry potter the great lion tamer

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