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August 7, 2016 | by  | in News Splash | [ssba]

Clubs admin out of touch with students

Salient has received a number of tip offs from various clubs who’ve struck roadblocks when dealing with clubs and societies management. Problems have ranged from not being able to book spaces in the Student Union building and misinformation, through to more serious complaints not being dealt with in a timely or structured manner.

VUWSA do not control clubs, yet many students are under the assumption that they do. Though VUWSA has had clubs and societies under their umbrella in the past, the university has run them through the Recreation Centre since 2012.

The Women’s Group at Victoria recently held a collection drive for the Wellington Women’s Refuge as part of their annual women’s week of activities and fundraisers.

While the drive ran smoothly on the day, it was only been approved by clubs administration two days earlier, with the VUW clubs administration staff initially denying the group the use of a table in the Hub.

They did not want them to collect donations for the Women’s Refuge because the organisation did not “directly benefit students on campus,” as quoted in a leaked email.

Women’s Group President Naomi Peacock and other group members did not think the collection drive would be a problem as the Women’s Group have held similar drives for the Wellington Rape Crisis on campus, including one earlier this year.

The Women’s Group at Victoria are a representative group under VUWSA, and are not technically a club. However to book events like the collection drive, meetings, and special events that require the use of a lecture theatre as a venue they have to go through clubs administration.

Peacock said she was “furious” about the response from clubs administration because the Women’s Refuge are an “invaluable” service in our city.

Peacock said clubs administration did not seem to understand the importance of the organisation which “campaigns for the protection and welfare of women,” and provides important education “on issues such as intimate partner violence and sexual assault.” Work that she believes is beneficial to students and should be supported and promoted on campus.

The fundraiser for Women’s Refuge went ahead eventually—after Student Health members were called on to support the collection. VUWSA President Jonathan Gee said that “there are improvements to be made around clubs.”

“There’s a club support review coming up this trimester and I’m looking forward to seeing how VUWSA might enhance its role in supporting clubs… VUWSA’s focus is on ensuring clubs get the best support possible to do what they do best—it’s therefore up to students to decide who manages clubs.”

Salient has also heard reports of multiple instances where rooms in the university have been double booked, disrupting scheduled meetings.

Additionally, an $85.00 hire charge for a technician to operate equipment has been added to the Memorial Theatre in the Student Union building. Clubs have been finding that this price is out of their budget and deem the technical support unnecessary to most events held there.

Peacock believes the club’s system would work better if administration and regulatory powers were under the guise of VUWSA.

Political Students Society (PolSoc) President, Lars Thompson, spoke of similar experiences with clubs administration.

Thompson believes there is a need for a discussion between the clubs on campus and the university to re-evaluate who administers the clubs—the university or VUWSA.

Thompson said the most important thing for clubs administration is to be “approachable and accessible” for all students, and he added the current system can be “a bit confusing for clubs to know who is the best person to talk to when an issue arises.”

While PolSoc had not experienced having a room double booked, Thompson mentioned that their initial “application for a regular meeting room was forgotten about,” by clubs administration.

Thompson stressed that PolSoc “appreciates the hard work Victoria staff put into administering the clubs,” and had mostly “positive experiences” with administration.

When asked about the processes involved with clubs administration, a university spokesperson said, “as part of the university’s regular processes, a scheduled review of all club support has started that will include VUWSA, the university, students, the Clubs Council, and other interested parties. We urge everyone to participate.”

“Under the agreement between VUWSA, the university, and the VUWSA Trust, the university provides advice and support to clubs. The clubs remain student-led and the university supports them but is not responsible for them. An exception would be if students involved breach the Statute of Student Conduct.”

VUWSA’s Clubs and Activities Officer Tori Sellwood told Salient that issues like double booking of spaces and registration are acknowledged problems with the club’s system, adding that there “needs to be a more proactive attitude towards resolving them.”

Sellwood says it is “up to the students to decide how club affairs are managed,” so whilst the clubs are still managed by the university and not VUWSA, they are “working hard to get the best deal for clubs in providing a strong student perspective to the university.”

One path to this is through the Clubs Council, which aims “to have a more meaningful role in influencing the strategic direction,” of the clubs on campus.

According to a university spokesperson, those seeking advice around clubs should  know that “the same advice and support is available for clubs and club members as is available to all students through the university’s student services.”



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