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September 23, 2013 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Students Actually Care About Representation

A majority of students want representation to go back to how it was before VSM and the Student Forum, with VUWSA taking centre stage and more accountable student representatives.

Last month’s student representation consultation, which garnered over 1100 responses, saw 55 per cent of respondents wanting the two student representative seats on University Council to return to being filled by the VUWSA President and a student elected at large. Following the implementation of Voluntary Student Membership in 2012, the University replaced the VUWSA President with the Chair of the newly established Student Forum.

A third of students would prefer the seats to be filled by two students being elected at large. At the VUWSA AGM last week, members voted to change their constitution so that all students, regardless of membership, could vote in their Executive elections. This means VUWSA can claim the President was elected at large; however, it remains unclear whether the University will see it that way. The consultation also showed that two thirds of students wanted the student Council seat election to take place as part of the VUWSA Election, a process that was separated following VSM.

A majority of students also wanted more than the currently non-existent levels of information about student representatives on the University’s various of boards and committees, as well as the students sitting on them. However the preferred level of information was minimal, with most respondents only seeing descriptions of roles, bios and contact details as necessary.

Support for VUWSA to take most of the responsibility for filling representative positions on boards and committees was clear, with 73 per cent of respondents wanting the students’ association to have dedicated seats on the Academic Board, Academic Committee and other academic bodies, and 69.6 per cent wanting VUWSA on the Equity and Diversity Committee, Student Hardship Committee and other equity, welfare and pastoral-care bodies.

All students were sent the survey, the results of which will be used to inform the review of student representation currently underway, which will be proposing what structure to replace the Student Forum with.

“I’m very pleased with the response. I know from being on the receiving end of requests for surveys for a few years that it’s easy to brush them off.” said University Council student representative David Alsop.

VUWSA President Rory McCourt, who has been critical of the Forum since early 2012, says the survey shows strong support for VUWSA “to return to the heart of student representation at Vic”.

“We know that an independent and accountable students’ association is the most effective way for students to have their say on the things that will affect them.”

The next step of the review will see a proposal go to Academic Board, and then on to University Council for final approval later in October.


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