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October 9, 2017 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Don’t you, forget about me: The (other) candidates

On October 3, the VUWSA Elections Candidates Forum saw all candidates discuss why they should be elected as members of the VUWSA Executive in 2018. The following reportage covers the “minor” roles; the candidates for the President and Vice-President positions are covered in more detail in other stories.


The forum began with speeches from the candidates for Education Officer, Sarah Yzendoom and Mattias Tolhurst.

Sarah had a clear vision for changing cross-faculty inconsistencies when it came to assessments and lectures.

Students are all investors into their education, we all deserve to get the same product. […] VUW need to open their eyes to the fact that this is a partnership.”

Mattias wanted to ensure lecturers prioritised their roles as teachers over their research, requiring comprehensive course feedback systems to incentivise lecturer improvement.

“The student voice needs to be strong in the decisions made that impact our education,” he said.

Three candidates originally contested the role of Campaigns Officer, dropping to just one when the Forum began. Geo Robrigado, wanted to “give back to the university” in the campaigns role. “I believe that education is a universal right, as the basis for a role on the VUWSA Executive,” he said.

Geo said he would focus on three main areas if elected: the right to be heard and recognised; the right to wellbeing; and the right to a strong and safe university.

Following Geo’s speech, Felix Griffin, who had previously dropped from the candidacy, returned. “Ten minutes ago I just quit but I’m not a quitter so here I am,” he said.

Felix detailed his role running TEDx events on campus, citing Chlöe Swarbrick and Geoffrey Palmer as two influential individuals he had spoken to.

“Vote for Felix for an incredible campaigns experience and free food,” he concluded.

Three candidates contested the Treasurer-Secretary role: Brittany Neal, Jack Donovan, and Finn O’Connor.

Brittany focussed on her passion for change as to why she would be suitable for the role.

“The Treasurer-Secretary is integral, representing students and advocating for an education experience — it sits at the heart of everything VUWSA does.”

Brittany detailed her experience in managing internal policies and processes, but urged that the role was “about more than just numbers.”

Jack, a second year commerce student, said he had “a lot of experience” which made him suitable for the role.

“The financial side of it is something I want to do when I graduate. It’s something I’m really passionate about.”

Jack’s main focus was to “maximise member benefits, push for transparency and accountability.”

Finn, a friend of presidential candidate Marlon Drake, confessed he “did not know much about VUWSA at the beginning of the year.”

“But, having talked to Marlon, I realise how hard working and dedicated they were. I want to make sure every student has the possibility to use the services available.”

Finn said he was campaigning on the idea that “life’s about a balance.”

Two candidates stood for Equity Officer, Paddy Miller and Summer Wick-Featonby. As Summer is running for three roles, she only spoke in her capacity as a Welfare Vice-President candidate at the forum.

Paddy, a fourth year law and politics student, said she was about “walking the talk and taking action.” She is passionate about eliminating sexual violence and racism at VUW.

Paddy had extensive volunteering experience, with the Wellington Community Justice Project and as a mentor for a range of subjects.

“This role is about providing an environment that ensures all students have the chance to succeed, regardless of their background.” She said she would work alongside representative groups to ensure this.

Eleanor Hughes, running for Wellbeing Officer alongside Summer, believed she was qualified for the role “because I have plenty of experience volunteering in areas of equality and access.”

Eleanor had three main goals: to work with halls to address issues of mental health and sexual violence; to work towards “autonomous resources”; and to work on initiatives to impact the outside community.

The most heated discussion of the forum was between the candidates for the Clubs and Activities Officer.

Both Connor MacLeod and Lars Thompson were passionate about “taking clubs back” from VUW Recreation Services, to be governed by VUWSA.

Connor said his experience made him suitable for this role, as president of Rowing Club and a member of the VUW Commerce Society.

“There is a systemic disconnect between VUW and clubs, we are treated as organisations to manage, not communities to foster.”

Connor sought to drive a “grassroots movement” towards this change.

Lars was confident that he had a solution, thrusting an A4 document into the air. “If you want a solution that can bring Clubs together, I have it here today.”

Lars’ VUWSA Clubs Services Constitution provides “a new model for representation.”

Questions from the audience saw Connor and Lars fight over whether Lars’ plan was a suitable one. Connor stated that Lars’ policy had not been implemented despite being put forward to the Clubs Council and VUWSA in the past, while Lars was confident that “we need to implement my policy right away.”

“Twelve clubs have already come to me and said, we want this model.”


Unfortunately, the allocated time for questions expired, and the forum moved on to the Vice-President nominations.


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