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August 5, 2013 | by  | in News | [ssba]

University Council By-election

If you’ve noticed a strange smell around campus this week, it’s probably just democracy in the air as students have the opportunity to vote for a second representative on University Council.

Four candidates are contesting this week’s by-election, which is being held to fill the vacant student seat on Victoria’s highest governing body. The seat was supposed to be filled by the Chair of the Student Forum, but this position is currently vacant as VUWSA and other student representative bodies have withdrawn from the Forum, leaving it effectively nonexistent.

Currently, students have a lone representative on Council, David Alsop, who was elected last year. His term ends at the end of this year, as will the term of the successful by-election candidate.

Voting opened last Thursday with mixed success, with some students receiving the email with the link to vote late due to capacity issues, and incorrect pictures being displayed for two of the candidates. In addition, VUWSA President and candidate Rory McCourt’s home address was displayed.

“Two errors were made by the company creating web content and these errors were fixed as soon as they were notified. We apologise unreservedly for these mistakes which were the result of human error,” said Returning Officer Caroline Ward.

Voting remains open until 5 pm on Wednesday 7 August, and will close the following week. Students should have been emailed a link to voting; those who haven’t are advised to check their spam or junk folders or contact


1. Have you ever been to a University Council meeting? 2. Why are you standing for the position? 3. Should the University, as it always does, propose to raise course fees for 2014—will you vote in favour? 4. What about for the Student Services Levy? 5. What was the last song you listened to?

Elizabeth Bing

First-year Law and Chinese student

1. Yes, the VUWSA Clubs Council as well as substituting for the Sponsorship panel. Editor’s note: The University Council, for which this election is being held, is completely different to the VUWSA Clubs Council and the Sponsorship panel.

2. Let’s be frank here. There is a blatant lack of student representation on the current board. The ratio per se is far from equal. Besides the usual jargon sold to you all regarding the student voice being crucial, not only do I believe this, but I’m going to pull the racial card here. I’m a Chiwi. That’s right, a New Zealander born-and-raised, but Asian. This means I do not hold any biased views towards Māori, Pacific Islander, Pākehā or any other culture, thus representing you all to the best of my abilities (the Kiwi open-mindedness combined with my stereotypical hard-working Asian traits) minus the prejudice towards other cultures.

3. No. Living costs, transport fees, loans, why would we want an additional fee to worry about?

4. No.

5. Daft Punk – ‘Get Lucky’.

Michael Gilchrist

Second-year PhD student, former Master’s student

1. I’ve been to a few Council meetings in the past, sometimes on fee-setting and sometimes to observe other issues under consideration. Other issues include decisions about capital expenditure and the direction of the University in terms of research and teaching.

2. I’m interested in representing the views and interests of students in these decisions, and using my experience of the institution to make that representation effective. I am also interested in the question of who will lead the University as the new Vice-Chancellor.

3. I think a zero fee-rise is always the goal for students and, failing that, I would be working to gain majority support on council for the lowest achievable fee-rise.

4. The student-services fee should not increase—it is set high at present, and we need to seek relief for part-time students in particular.

5. The last song I listened to was Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’.

Rory McCourt

Third-year BA student. VUWSA President

1. Yeap. And I think I brought down the median age by about 50…

2. Because the VUWSA President needs to be on Council. It’s how we keep Council accountable and connected to what the average student thinks and needs. It’s pretty important that we have a rep on University Council who isn’t afraid to stand up for all students and advocate for our interests. As VUWSA President, it’s what I do every day. It’s also a pretty big year for Vic—we’re appointing a new Vice-Chancellor and reviewing the unworkable Student Forum. Time for someone with the experience to get shit done.

3. No. I’m not convinced we would gain any additional quality from hiking fees, yet again. But I am concerned the Council isn’t doing more to stand up to the Government’s chronic underfunding of universities and student support.

4. The Levy is too damn high. We also need to look at exemptions and half-levies for part-time students.

5. Patti Smith – ‘Birdland’.

David Rektorys

Second-year Commerce student

1. Yes, two of them last year. One of them was the one where fees were increased.

2. I believe my previous experience from large organisations may prove useful in helping our university to become more student-oriented and financially efficient.

3. Absolutely not! The current use of our money is disgracefully inefficient; we all see it every day, but nobody seems to be doing anything about it. The University has a huge income (total of $350 million with almost $19 million surplus!) and if they want more money, they should look at cutting some of their costs first before making us pay more.

4. Many items on SSL are valid and beneficial—namely clubs, CareerHub, Rec Centre etc. Still, I’d recommend cutting some expenses here as well, for example the Student Forum which costed us $180,000 last year.

5. I shamelessly confess this piece was written while listening to ‘Call Me Maybe’ :-).


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