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July 29, 2014 | by  | in News | [ssba]

VUWSA Mid-Year Report Cards

Sonya Clark

Clark has been a highly effective and active president. Moving into the role from her 2013 position of Academic Vice-President, Clark had a great degree of institutional knowledge, which she has used to her – and students’ – advantage in negotiations with University management, as well as outside bodies. Clark’s reign has seen VUWSA return to the University Council and Academic Board, and the organisation has conducted several high-profile campaigns, with progress slowly but surely being made.

Clark’s dedication to the future of VUWSA is noteworthy. She is committed to the strategic planning of the organisation and the University, and is highly involved with issues including student-levy increases, student-media modernisation and changes to qualifications at the University.

Clark is visibly more confident in the role than at the beginning of the year. She is a very hard worker and commits much of herself to the role. She has retained good control of her Executive, demonstrating at Executive meetings that she is thoroughly in charge while maintaining good working relationships with those around her, which is no mean feat. She has also fostered and strengthened positive relationships with other student representative groups.

By her own admission, time pressures have limited Clark’s interaction with the student body at large: the hiring of a new administrative support staff member will hopefully go some way to ameliorating this.

Rick Zwaan
Welfare Vice-President

Zwaan started the year at an advantage with a trimester as Welfare Vice-President already under his belt, having taken over midway through 2013 after the resignation of Simon Tapp. It is, then, perhaps unsurprising that Zwaan has proven himself to be the most dynamic and active member of the 2014 Executive.

Zwaan’s knowledge and work ethic are evident in meetings of the VUWSA Executive, where he is a frequent and dominant contributor. He has a thorough understanding of the organisation, and a vision of where he believes VUWSA should go. He has been thoroughly involved in VUWSA’s key campaigns this year – Fairer Fares and Rental WoFs – and has been very visible through his work on VUWSA’s press releases as well as willingness to give comment. He has also been a visible presence at many VUWSA events around campus. This involvement is reflected in the 238.75 extra hours Zwaan worked last trimester.

Zwaan received a generally glowing review from Salient last year, and the comment that he was “definitely staking his claim for a Presidential campaign in 2014.” Zwaan did not run for President last year, but is the obvious frontrunner for this year.

Rāwinia Thompson
Academic Vice-President

Thompson, only a second-year student, has worked shockingly hard at her job. She attends meeting after meeting: she sits on the Academic Board where she advocated strongly (and successfully) for the reintroduction of tutorials for 300-level arts subjects; she attends University Council meetings even though she doesn’t have a seat; she spoke at the Select Committee on the Bill which would cut compulsory student representation from the Uni Council. Most recently, she has expressed her concern at the way potentially triggering content is discussed in courses at the University. Thompson’s genuine concern for issues which affect students is very evident. She has gone above and beyond so far this year, working 145 hours more than she was paid for.

Declan Doherty–Ramsay
Engagement Vice-President

New to the VUWSA Executive, Doherty–Ramsay is the Executive member with the most VUWSA-centric social-media presence, but this has not necessarily been reflected in his achievements. Doherty–Ramsay accepted this, citing the early resignation of Elizabeth Bing among contributory factors to his issues with the role, along with lack of institutional knowledge and lack of long-term vision. The Engagement Vice-President’s role includes running VUWSA events and works to improve links with students and the community. Doherty–Ramsay writes the weekly Salient column and has been involved in running VUWSA’s joint O-Week and Stress Free Study Week. However, he suffers from a serious case of over-promising and under-delivering.

Jordan Lipski 

A quiet achiever, Lipski is highly reliable and very, very competent. As part of his dual treasurer–secretary role, it is Lipski’s responsibility to take minutes at Exec meetings. He takes detailed, accurate minutes, which are always ready the next day – a welcome change from previous years. This attention to detail is also integral to his role as treasurer. VUWSA’s budget was passed in May this year – considerably earlier than usual – with a deficit of $42,000. This was less than anticipated. The Executive have approved further spending since the Budget was passed, with Lipski’s support.

Lipski is an active member of the Executive, though he is not vocal in most meetings. Much of Lipski’s role is behind the scenes: he is a member of the Auditing and Finance Committee, VUWSA Trust, Executive Reporting Committee and Publications Committee, and works at VUWSA events and the Pipitea office. He does not often voice opinions in meetings of the Executive, but is a solid worker.

Caroline Thirsk
Education Officer 

The outsider, Thirsk is as close as VUWSA has to a right-wing voice this year: coming from South Africa, she is not obviously politically aligned. Despite this status as a relative newcomer, Thirsk is forthright in meetings, and often brings a fresh perspective to discussions. As Education Officer, Thirsk is supposed to support the Academic Vice-President and VUWSA’s Education Team. As discussed, the Academic Vice-President has been very active this year, giving Thirsk a reasonably high workload. Her involvement and work have improved as her institutional knowledge have grown; Thirsk is clearly keen to progress.

Alasdair Keating
Campaigns Officer

Looking through past VUWSA reviews, it quickly becomes apparent that Campaigns Officers often find themselves sidelined when working with strong Welfare Vice-Presidents. This is true of Keating, whose contributions have been overshadowed by Zwaan’s exceptional output. Keating is a generally supportive Exec member, but has not independently displayed leadership. He has admitted that he could have done more in the first trimester and intends to do more this trimester.

Stephanie Gregor
Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer

Gregor’s role is a broad one, and she has worked alongside the Welfare Vice-President and Equity Officer as part of the Welfare Team. She has put in a reasonable amount of work, helping with various campaigns and working 81.75 surplus hours, but has by her own admission not taken a great deal of initiative, nor contributed a lot in Executive meetings. Gregor is another Executive member who started off with relatively little experience and knowledge, and has improved over the course of the year.

Madeleine Ashton–Martyn
Equity Officer

The Equity Officer role only came into existence in 2013, and combined several existing roles. Ashton–Martyn has admirably covered the diverse range of responsibilities she has had thus far this year. She was instrumental in organising the highly successful Let Me Go Home march, and has worked well with the many groups she seeks to represent. She takes initiative and often contributes in Exec meetings. Ashton–Martyn has demonstrated her commitment to the role, both in working 134.5 surplus hours over the first trimester and in the quality of those hours.

Toby Cooper
Clubs and Activities Officer

Cooper is super. Having started in the role later in the year after a successful by-election, Toby has re-energised his job as Clubs and Activities Officer. He has maintained a constant presence, attending clubs events and sending regular emails to clubs about what is happening at Vic. Toby is always there to offer advice and support. Cooper has spearheaded the Clubs Showcase in the Hub, a great way to increase the presence of Clubs. Perhaps what’s most impressive about Cooper is his constant enthusiasm and positivity. Every Executive needs an eager beaver who ignores the politics and gets stuck in to their role. Toby is that person.


About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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