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October 15, 2018 | by  | in News | [ssba]

“Stick with Vic” Makes “Insulting” and “Upsetting” Comments

Ross McComish, an alumnus of Victoria University, created the “Stick With Vic” Facebook page, a page “for all the people… who see no reason to change Vic’s name”.
On a comments thread on the “Stick With Vic” page, Te Rangi Waaka, a student, commented “[the name] needs to change. Loose [sic] that colonial baggage”. In the ensuing conversation, Ross, writing as “Stick With Vic”, called Te Rangi by his first name, Zane, which Te Rangi does not use. He does this repeatedly, after being asked to stop. He then goes on to call Te Rangi “the Vice-Chancellor’s little lapdog”, adding “you can lick whatever you want to lick — but some of us are getting tired of hearing you yapping”.
Te Rangi said that using his first name was an attempt to “de-Māorify” him. “Zane” is not on Te Rangi’s profile, and Ross would have had to scroll through his Facebook feed to find it.

Ross said that he believes the exchange was being characterised as “racist and hurtful to a student” because it had been “taken out of context”. He said he was simply “flaming” Te Rangi, because he believed Te Rangi was “laying down what appeared to be flamebait”.
Te Rangi believes that nothing he said gave anyone license to repeatedly insult him.
At the end of August, Salient reporter Christina (pseudonym used for privacy purposes) messaged Ross on Facebook to talk about the “Stick with Vic” movement.
In the messages, Ross said “you know what us old retired geezers are like — plenty of time on our hands and love chatting politics with attractive young women. ;)”
Christina responded, saying “I’d prefer to keep personal remarks like that out of the conversation”.
Ross then apologised, saying that the comment was meant “as a light-hearted joke”.

Christina said the comment “upset” her.

“I felt undermined and creeped out, to be frank,” she said.
“One moment you think you’re being taken seriously as a journalist. The next your dignity is ripped from you with a ‘minor’ comment.”

Ross believes this comment was also “taken out of context”.
He said that it was not intended to offend.
At the end of August, the “Stick with Vic” facebook page contacted VUWSA asking them to share content. VUWSA denied that request.
Matt Tucker, VUWSA CEO, said that they had been contacted by some students about concerns they had with the discussions being had on the Stick with Vic page.
He said VUWSA chose not to work with Stick with Vic because they didn’t believe Stick With Vic “lived up to [VUWSA] values”.
He added that VUWSA will be doing a submission to Chris Hipkins opposing the name change, based on feedback from students.
Ross has given us permission to publish his statements on the condition that it will be published in its entirety. We have printed his statement below.

Ross McComish – Statement

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to reply to the matters concerning me that will be discussed in an article you intend to publish in Salient. My response to the points raised in your message to me is below. I am sending it to you on the understanding that you will publish it in its entirety or not at all.
Please note that I reserve my rights in the event that your article breaches any of my legal rights.
“I established the Facebook page and have throughout controlled its content and contributed some of it. I was not acting as a representative of anyone else. Both I and the Facebook page should be judged for the entirety of the content.
Te Rangi Waaka, who is also known on the social media as Zane Te Waaka Mita, appeared on Stick With Vic after it had been going for four days and had gained just 200 followers, most of whom were friends of mine. He started commenting on posts in a derisory and disrespectful way, which, coupled with what appeared to be his use of an assumed name (Te Rangi Waaka literally means Skywalker) led me to believe that he was trolling. As he was laying down what appeared to be flamebait, I flamed him. It didn’t seem to bother him at the time and I thought no more about it. When it was drawn to my attention much later that this exchange, taken out of context, was being characterised as racist and hurtful to a student I immediately emailed the VUWSA officer who had made those claims, seeking to resolve the matter. That was six weeks ago. I still haven’t had a reply, or even an acknowledgement, of that email.
The Christina Carter comment was just one phrase in a much wider discussion. The words are taken out of context. She expressed an interest in interviewing Clive Thorp about his submission that had just been made public. I offered to put her in touch with him and, by way of encouraging her, I told her that I didn’t think he’d mind talking to her “because us old retired geezers . . .” It was an off the cuff comment, intended to encourage her to approach Clive, and I assure you that it was not in any way intended to offend. When she reacted negatively to it, I immediately withdrew the remark, apologised for it, and explained what I meant by it. I understood her to accept both the explanation and the apology. She assured me that it wouldn’t affect her attitude to the interview and we spent about an hour in constructive discussion. Until your message I have believed that my misjudgement had been cleared up and that was the end of the matter. If she is still offended, please convey my apology again.
There has for some time been a sustained campaign, both intimidatory and at times defamatory, conducted against students, alumni, and staff who have taken a stand against the university management. Are you also looking into those much more serious matters?”


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