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March 8, 2004 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Don’t care, don’t care, don’t care.

Bill Bryson wrote in Lost Continent: “I read once that it takes 75,000 trees to produce one issue of the Sunday New York Times – and it’s well worth every trembling leaf. So what if our grandchildren have no oxygen to breathe? Fuck ‘em.”

I’d like to think that you all feel the same way about Salient (without, of course, wishing mischief on your future progeny): that you wake up of a Monday morning fairly aquiver with excitement at the thought of what the new week’s issue will bring. Which member of the VUWSA exec. will we expose? What trenchant observations on the state of the university, its management, your education, will be found within? How will we, as indie media, take on the Establishment this time? But I know you won’t. Informal research has shown that people read the letters, Emilie and do the crossword, and then maybe go back to the other stuff later on in the week when they’re really bored. 100% of second- and third-year boys surveyed will check out Lecture Shout-Outs. Most of you will slide right past anything with VUWSA in its contents. People are divided over ‘Man’, but Top 5 usually gets a look-in.

It’s incredibly hard to discuss the malaise of the 21st century tertiary student without being trite, but here is an impassioned plea, in the words of John Pilger: Read. Just read. And in the words of Busted: it’s what I go to school for. Why? Two reasons. First: Busted got it in one. This place can blow your mind, if you let it. Lectures and tutorials aren’t your only source of new information here. This will be your first (and possibly only) opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, intellectually and culturally, both to absorb what’s on offer in publications like Salient and also to contribute to that environment. Secondly, you are represented, and your school is governed, by people and organisations you probably know very little about. True, University bureaucracy is Byzantine. True, student politics are often frustrating and hippie. But they’re not boring. Did you know that in 1999, a protesting crowd marching the Terrace decided to storm Treasury, turned left instead, and stormed the Reserve Bank? Hysterical stuff. Power to the people.

Most concerning is the apparent fact that the majority of students either disagree or don’t care about what VUWSA does. Voter turnout at Exec. elections is, frankly, embarrassing for a supposedly politically aware and active demographic. SRC attendance even worse. But remember this: it’s your reputation they’re dicking with. Yeah, that made you think. The wider public makes no distinction between you, while you go about your own quiet business, and the hippie fool who can’t tell the difference between Treasury and the Reserve Bank (hint: their names are in big letters on the fronts of each building). The purpose of this wasn’t to judge the political correctness or efficacy of VUWSA, but rather its mandate. Less that 10% of voter turnout is bad. Just remember: not only do they represent you, but they are you, to Joe Public.

So, step one: have lots of fun. Step two: have an opinion. Step three: use the myriad opportunities you get round here to exercise that opinion.
Or at least read Salient. Please.


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