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August 4, 2008 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Eye on Exec

To spite the author of a letter printed in last week’s issue that so scathingly criticised my apparent apathy towards the Eye on Exec column (grossly inaccurate, by the way – the feeling is usually directed at general VUWSA-related anything and apathy is probably a mild term to use), I sat in on the exec’s meeting last Wednesday evening with the sole intention of reporting shit.

Within a minute of commencing, the meeting moved into committee before moving out almost as quickly. Seemingly, this efficiency did not appear to last, with Welfare Vice- President Melissa Barnard requesting that the meeting be sped up. “I just got a text saying that the storm is heading our way,” she explained.

Considering the meeting lasted an hour and a half, it seems improbable that the rest of the exec took serious heed of this weather warning. To their credit (I say that with reluctance), they did cover several matters of importance. Relatively speaking, of course.

Among the issues discussed were Snapper cards, the new electronic ticketing and payment system that the miniscule readership of this column may have noticed on-campus in recent weeks. The introduction of these cards has posed a problem for VUWSA – who at present provide free bus tickets for students with classes between two campuses – as GO Wellington plan to eventually replace the current ticket system with the cards over the next year.

A transition to funding Snapper cards for students was briefly contemplated, but a resolution was not reached: “Let’s leave it to next year’s muppets,” Queer Rights Officer Rachael Wright suggested.

Other matters were resolved, at least – temporarily, anyway, such as both VUWSA and Salient being stuck with shitbox printers until the exec sorts out its cash flow. Administration Vice-President Alexander Neilson blamed leftover costs from O-Week, prompting Campaigns Officer Sonny Thomas to demand to know why the exec was still receiving bills for an event that was held at the beginning of the year. Neilson explained that invoices were still being received several months later, but admitted that others had been “misplaced.”

No one seemed to interpret this concession as a worrisome display of gross incompetence and Neilson proceeded to table dates for this year’s general elections. Conveniently, the dates he suggested – nominations to close September 4 and polling open from September 12 to 18 – are the latest possible according to the VUWSA Constitution. The motion was repeated before it was passed for the benefit of Education Vice- President Paul Brown, who announced that he hadn’t been listening the first time.

By this stage, I was beginning think that the meeting would end with a shortage of bitching very uncharacteristic of the exec, but American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice proved to be an ample catalyst when the topic of the $10,000 reward offered by the exec for her arrest arose.

Clubs Officer Katie de Roo told the exec that she did not appreciate the reward being announced on behalf of the entire exec without all their approval. “[The reward] is a frivolous way to spend students’ money,” she added.

Wright complained that the $10,000 offered was greater than the amount allocated to the women’s budget. “Do you want to give me $10,000? I’ll go arrest someone.”

“Moves [like the reward] should not be made in everyone’s name without consultation. And now I’m going to start calling you [2007 VUWSA President] Geoff [Hayward].” (NB: Hayward was frequently criticised for his communication skills – or lack thereof – during his presidential term.)

Thomas described Rice as “a fucking vicious piece of shit.”

Cosgrove defended the decision to offer the reward but conceded that it was a “bad move” not to inform his executive before doing so.

“Alright, Geoff, let’s move on,” Barnard replied.

The VUWSA food bank was the next hot topic on the agenda. Barnard reported that the food bank had given out over 400 food parcels to date this year, exceeding the total amount distributed in 2007. Based on last year’s projections, she predicted that the $4,000 remaining in her budget would be insufficient to cover the expected demand for parcels later in the year. However, hope remains for poor students, with the exec relying on an additional $5,000 from the Student Hardship Committee. They are also on the hunt for sources of food donations.

The best being saved for last was indeed the case last week, with a sexual harassment complaint against Cosgrove raised as the last item during the meeting. The matter was discussed in committee (i.e. I can’t report on it), but I can report on what I know of it exclusive of the meeting: a Salient staff member has laid a complaint against Cosgrove for a certain comment he allegedly made following a recent VUWSA event. The staff member is seeking a written apology from Cosgrove, and has requested for motions of restraint and censure to be passed by the exec against him. These were passed during the meeting.

After the meeting had adjourned, I typically attempted to make a quick getaway but was hampered by Thomas, who approached me away from the other exec members and advised me to report on the in-committee goings-on, presumably to portray Cosgrove in a poor light. Scandalous. Thankfully, or perhaps not so for him, I take my journalistic integrity extremely seriously and wrote about him instead.


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Comments (38)

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  1. Lancelot says:

    Hahaha – what happens if someone were to mention the name of the Salient ‘staffer’ involved?

  2. anika moa's new girlfriend says:

    or perhaps that would be disrespectful to the privacy of the salient staffer, hm?

  3. Rachael says:

    Also, if yr gonna talk about my bosom, please spell my name correctly. Jeez.

  4. nihiliam says:

    she does have a fantastic bosom

  5. Jose says:

    What a scum bucket Joel is. How dare he behave in such a way that a student and member feels it is necessary to actually lodge a formal complaint against him.

  6. Sonny Thomas says:

    Come on Seonah, 700 words to get to a massive issue of confidence in the President.

  7. Gibbon says:

    HEY Sonny
    Overall I think you’re really cool for takin’ it to Joel so much

  8. caleb says:

    cosgrove truly is the bain! first he makes a mockery of graduation, then he offers up $10,000 of student money to arrest a silly woman and now sexual harrassment.

    this is a big deal, sexual harrassment doesn’t happen in isolation. has he done this to someone else?

    and why do i only know about this at the very end of the eye on the exec? this seems like a bigger story to me.

  9. Teresa says:

    What the hell?! How did this slip under the radar? Caleb is right, this is a big story. If it were me I would have wanted Joel to resign. Surely if a complaint were taken under the statute of student conduct the university would have grounds to kick Joel out. I hope who ever the brave individual is that took this complaint to the executive now takes it higher. I would go so far as to say the University Council should suspend him as a member of council and conduct it’s own enquiry.

  10. Sonny Thomas says:

    Hey Gibbon, thanks :)

    Caleb and Teresa are right, the complaint is seemingly buried. I have raised this with Seonah and Tristan already.

    Three members of the Executive, Rachael Wright, Seamus Brady and myself put our names to a letter in Salient this week publically distancing ourselves and noting our disgust with Joel.

    I personally think that Joel should resign over this, and I said so in the meeting. I think it seriously calls into question integrity of the Presidency and his own personal integrity.

    Teresa, you should write to Tim Beaglehole the Chancellor, or even Chris Bishop (the other student rep) and if you post it to PO Box 600, Victoria University it will get to them.

  11. bruiser says:

    God forbid I seem cynical, but Seonah seems to have her own agenda here. A personal one perhaps?

    Sure you might not like Sonny, Seonah, but he seems to be the only one doing anything constructive and with any sort of consciousness here. Joel should be rolled (what a conveniently rhyming sentence) because he’s not only an embarrassment to vuwsa but more importantly to the student population of which he represents.

    Very strange indeed how you place such little emphasis on such a despicable case such as this. It’s clearly of much more importance than the Food Bank issues. Are you a member of the Workers’ Party by any chance?

  12. Michael Oliver says:

    This is the funniest column in Salient by a very, very long stretch. Bless you, Seonah.

    “Very strange indeed how you place such little emphasis on such a despicable case such as this. It’s clearly of much more importance than the Food Bank issues. Are you a member of the Workers’ Party by any chance?”

    God, shut the fuck up.

  13. Seonah Choi says:

    I chose to write about the sexual harassment complaint made against Joel in the manner that I did (in the Eye on Exec column, instead of in a separate news story) for a variety of reasons.

    Firstly, when the complaint was brought to my attention by the Salient staff member behind it, I received the impression that he/she was satisfied in the course of remedy that was being undertaken at the time, and that this was adequate resolution for the perceived grievance. Considering he/she was already reluctant to be identified as a “Salient staff member,” I reasonably deduced that further unnecessary media attention and the subsequent public speculation was not desired.

    Second – having read and heard all of the information pertaining to the complaint, I reached the conclusion that a news story would only sensationalise the situation and result in undue criticism of Joel. I consider sexual harassment to be a serious matter, but I feel that the comment made by Joel has caused a disproportionate amount of backlash against him from the exec, and that this would only be worsened if I unfairly chose to pay the amount of attention to it that Sonny Thomas seems to expect.

    Whether the situation is indeed a “massive issue of confidence in the President” is subjective, and without revealing the full story behind the complaint, I don’t think most of the readers are equipped with the information to fairly make that judgment.

    Teresa: I think it is hasty for you to call for Joel’s resignation without knowing all of the information related to the complaint.

    bruiser: Haha. Interesting theory, but no, I do not have my own agenda but I am curious to know what you are insinuating that it may be. I am not a member of the Workers’ Party, and I am guessing I don’t know you (and vice versa), so I don’t think you’re adequately informed to make any concessions about how I feel about Sonny.

    Michael Oliver: Thanks!

  14. Gibbon says:

    Yup you just say it like Gib-on.

  15. R says:

    Wow that shut those shitheads up. Good work, Choi. Maybe Sonny will now learn to think before he shoots his mouth off in future.

  16. Sonny Thomas says:

    R, I didn’t shoot my mouth off at all. Any complaint of sexual harrassment is of course a very important matter that should be dealt with. The exec did that, Seonah didn’t report that, only changing it later on the online version.

    Having been through the entire process I believe that Seonah’s judgement was poor, and nor am I the only person on the exec t, or student to think so.

    Seonah accuses me of being too subjective, she made a value judgement call about the severity of this sexual harrassment claim, and virtually chose not to cover it. She also gets her facts wrong in her correction to the online version of the online article. Two motions were not put against Joel, the motion of restraint could not be applied because of a technicality.

    I think Eye on the Exec should be treated less as an opinion piece and personal forum for the author and more as a news item that reflects the facts.

  17. Mr Magoo says:

    Fact of the matter is: it is an opinion piece, and Salient is not the mouthpiece of VUWSA, so the muppets should quit their bitching

  18. Michael Oliver says:

    “I think Eye on the Exec should be treated less as an opinion piece and personal forum for the author and more as a news item that reflects the facts.

    I’d almost agree with this if it wasn’t consistently the funniest and best-written column in Salient. The animalistic antics of the Exec just lends itself well to cruelty and scorn.

  19. Neale Jones says:

    Sonny –
    Go rest yer nuts on some blokes chin as per normal and stop wasting Seonah’s time.

  20. t says:

    well done! Seonah Choi ! :)

  21. Seonah says:

    Sonny, you have repeatedly made it clear that you do not agree with the judgment I made on the complaint. Just as you say there are other members of the exec and students who share your opinion, there are people who share mine.

  22. The Spirit of Hunter S. Thompson says:

    Don’t take any guff from these swine. If you have any trouble, remember: you can always send a telegram to the right people.

    The exec remind me on a man in the depths of an ether binge: there is nothing in the worldmore helpless and irresponsible and depraved than the VUWSA exective other than a man on ether.

    As a doctor of journalism, I advise you to take stead of this scoundrel Sonny Thomas and mount a campaign against him like I did in ’72 against Nixon, the vermin.

    Godspeed to you Seonah in your quest to find the Salient dream.

  23. miked says:

    Hey Sonny, nice disguise at the National Conference… no one recognised you :)

  24. Sean Pauiri says:

    I know Joel is not homophobic. He is a good gay friend. He is supportive of the gay community. I appreciated Joel’s support on the anti-destiny church march a few years ago. His support was really uplifting at the time. Thanks Joel. We remember you. Ignore these ignorants, they do not know what its like to be raped.

  25. Mr Magoo says:

    No, no one but Joel Cosgrove understands what it’s like to be raped… Great generalisation Sean.

  26. Michael Oliver says:

    If this discussion doesn’t deteriorate into a series of Joel Cosgrove facts (ala Chuck Norris) then I’m going to be extremely disappointed.

    So, in light of the above, I’ll get the ball rolling:

    #1 Only Joel Cosgrove knows what it’s like to be raped
    #2 Only Joel Cosgrove knows what it’s like to be the bad man behind blue eyes

  27. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Michael Oliver: Good show! Here’s my contribution:

    #3 Only Joel Cosgrove knows what it’s like to win a beard competition with Grizzly Adams

    4# Only Joel Cosgrove knows how to heart my penis

  28. Michael Oliver says:

    #5 Only Joel Cosgrove can protect against wildfires
    #6 Only Joel Cosgrove can print this list out for free and not pay for it

  29. Michael Oliver says:

    As opposed to printing stuff out for free and paying for it. PROOF READ, OLIVER.

  30. Mr Magoo says:

    Apparently Cosgrove’s been doing just that for Nick Kelly down at the VUWSA office.. (printing shit for free, that is). oOoOoOoO

  31. Gibbon says:

    and for don franks

  32. Peter says:


  33. Naly D says:

    miked, you’re wrong. Mr Sonny Thomas and Mr Clinton Smith were both recognised.

  34. Gibbon says:

    I dunno, Sonny is pretty hard to miss… what did he do, bleach his hair, put on a cape and paint his skin?

  35. miked says:

    Really Naly D?!?!!? I would have never guessed that! I am sure it must have been Sonny, I thought that a 6 foot something black man who is renowned for being a Labour support could have easily sneaked in and tricked those sneaky Nats… but now you point that out.

  36. Naly D:

    Clint Smith and Sonny were both recognized _outside_ the National party conference on SUNDAY. Unless Thomas and Smith have some new fangled quantum time traveling portal, that im unaware of, I fail to see how they could have also snuck into the conference on FRIDAY.

    so a) Your dates are wrong, and b) its highly unlikely two high profile Labour activists would have gotten into the conference.

  37. peter says:


  38. Naly D says:

    Conrad, i thought Clint was a Greeny?

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