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August 11, 2008 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

President’s Column

This year has been (in comparison to previous years) relatively low key emotionally. I’ve come into this job with a clear idea of what I wanted done. Namely campus activism and progressive engagement with the university (usually picketed outside their door, but not always) as well as a number of projects begun last year that sprang from the demands of students themselves. Namely free internet and printing as well as the staunch position of the Student Association as a conscience of society. We haven’t done everything right. Neither have I. There are mistakes aplenty if you care to look. But there are also some strong achievements of mine and my fellow executive’s.

We have stopped the Film School closure. By we I mean the student body. The hundreds who marched and the thousands who signed petitions. WE stopped this management decision. This has not been successful for a very long time and showed strongly and clearly that students are not as passive and accepting as they might seem.

We have slowed the attacks on Gender and Women’s Studies, while they are still being threatened and bullied. The university is less sure of its capacity to boss small members of the university about arbitrarily. This of course is ongoing and it is our job as students to continue defending academic freedom and the rights of small programmes and subjects. We as students continue to defend the rights to have real academic choice.

With Education we have been less successful, and it is sad that Education students have been let down by the University, the government and their Kelburn based Students Association (something we have acknowledged and are working to change). Teacher education is as important as Law. We have the best school in the country for training teachers and yet the university is on course to commit ethical and professional suicide in essentially disestablishing the school. When you have management putting in rules like a minimum of 16 students in an honours paper (as opposed to the general rule of 16 MAXIMUM) it’s pretty hard to fight. But fight we are, because we cannot stop. Students and the Students’ Association are keeping this institution (partially) honest.

I have been supporting the growing fight for rights at Unicomm. Endemic leaks, obnoxious management and a lack of any regard for students as paying residents is unacceptable. There are hundreds of students left in the lurch by this, facing even larger barriers to their study because of this. As President of the Students’ Association I hold this to be my priority. Whether it’s fixing the Fijian Club’s BBQ or backing up hostel students. that’s my job, that’s the association’s job and that’s what we’re doing.

VUWSA has been in a failing state for a number of years. Not for any one person’s fault. But for systematic gaps and failures. We have slowly been turning this back from a position of a $300,000 deficit to something that the recent finance review by BDO Spicers believe is much closer to reaching break even, but i’ll wait for the audited accounts before making any firm figure, it wouldn’t be professional of me to try to double guess the professionals. In 2006 we passed three budgets. 2005-2007. We have hired new staff to look after accounts. We have retrained staff to fill gaps, with clubs for one having noticed the difference (for the better) and told me so.

We are reappraising the way we provide advocacy services and the provision/support of clubs and activities in light of the responses of over 3500 students in the last VUWSA survey, so that students get more of what they want, how they want it. Because it’s you who we are mandated to serve. I wouldn’t have wasted 4 years of my life for anyone else. We’re doing another one soon to get a new appraisal.

It must be noted that I have done all this with the support of both Staff and Exec and couldn’t have done it otherwise. We might fight and bicker, that’s what happens when you’re crammed into a badly ventilated concrete hole. But we’re getting things done, that’s what counts.

Personally Student Membership data is an important project that I have worked on, on and off for the last few years. This is the right for VUWSA to contact you (if you want of course) and find out what you want from us, what you like and what we can do to improve. This is something we’ve worked with the university on quite amicably, not every discussion is a fight. See they’re not evil per se, just different.

I’m working with the university on free internet. I believe they have the right intentions and see use of the internet, like I do, as an essential part of being connected into the university community. It takes time, like anything, but don’t think it’s not on the agenda. Printing… A bit harder. But I think, the university needs to take ownership of the cost of printing assignments, of printing readings. As we move further and further online, these demands become greater. This should be a core provision, not an extraneous cost.

I heart my penis and you should heart yours, or those you know. Sexual health is one of the biggest unspoken issues facing New Zealand society. As a conscience of said society, we need to be acting on this and not recoiling. I’m glad the overwhelming majority of people I have interacted with have supported the need to bring this issue to light.

In relation to bringing issues to light. Vic students and Auckland uni students have stood up and publicly brought Condoleezza Rice’s status as a war criminal to public discussion. VUWSA has strong policy against the war and our response has been just as strong. Putting money forward is a red herring. Its aim was to draw out the hypocrisy of the New Zealand State’s support for the ruling class of the United States, as opposed to the strong words meted out to Zimbabwe or North Korea. We have stood strong on the Vietnam War, The Springbok Tour and the privitisation of education in the 90’s. We continue to do that on the Iraq war and on everything I have discussed above. Myself and the Executive remain strong on building and supporting the Association. On building and supporting students.


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Comments (4)

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  1. Gibbon says:

    This makes me so mad.

  2. Jackson Wood says:

    It made me cry… with laughter.

  3. jose says:

    is that supposed to be saying sorry for fucking up, but i tried my best?
    sean connery once said, “your best?”
    “losers whine about thier best, winners go home and fuck the prom queen”
    i’m going to continue to hate on you until you lead your merry band of fuckwittery to a tangible positive outcome, or until your term expires. I think it will be the latter.

  4. Michael Oliver says:

    Student politicians take themselves way too seriously. That’s all that needs to be said.

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