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September 8, 2006 | by  | in Online Only |
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Because I spend too much time reading Kiwiblog

OK, let’s get one thing straight. I don’t enjoy taking public stances on VUWSA issues. It makes me feel smutty and unethical. But sometimes I get angry. And the SGM made me very angry.

Firstly, as Monsieur Greenbrook-Held has already kindly pointed out, it was poorly organised. It should never have been held at Eastside because of the difficultly in reaching quorum. Also, the main drawing point – the motions about raising the levy – should have been left until the end of the meeting. People aren’t going to stay once the controversial stuff is over. And, really, who is in charge of the flyers? Highlighting your own hypocrisy is seriously dumb.

What was particularly galling was the meeting being hijacked by viciously ideological right-wingers and VSM supporters, a la Nicholas O’Kane, who got all demagogic and outraged about the proposed levy hike.

Don’t get me wrong here. Debate and discussion are important, indeed, the very foundations that democracy is supposedly built upon. I would have been just as disappointed had the motion passed unanimously without anyone speaking against it. But in order for there to be proper debate and discussion, those taking up such cause have to be properly informed.

Shall we have a brief summary then?

VUWSA is financially fucked. You think I’m exaggerating? It is only through not having to pay the $175,000 student union building levy this year that VUWSA escaped having a $300,000 deficit. Next year they are going to have to pay that money.

On top of that, other costs are rising. See, there’s more to VUWSA that the Exec. They hire other people. Nikki and Sandra in the Education Office, who look after students who get screwed around by the University; Brent, who looks after clubs; Dusty, who organises activities. If you’ve ever talked to a class rep about something, joined a club or gone to an Ori event, then they have touched your lives without you knowing it. They have to get paid.

VUWSA is expanding to meet its expanding constituency. It’s recently opened and expanded offices on other campuses. New staff have to be taken on to run these offices. More services have to be provided. Costs rise. VUWSA’s income doesn’t. In fact, it hasn’t been adjusted since 1998. Ever heard of inflation?

For much of this year it wasn’t clear, even to those who were directly involved, exactly how bad the financial situation was. When it did become clear, a slash and burn approach was taken. There’s a financial review happening right now, although what will happen to the recommendations once the final report is out is another matter. They were never going to be able to cut back enough most of the way through the year, and the extra money has to come from somewhere.

Let’s dispel some more myths. The Exec aren’t swimming in a pool of money. They get paid approximately $50 for what is supposed to be 10 hours work. Usually it’s more. I’ve seen Exec members work themselves to the bone for less than $5 an hour, on top of having a second job and studying. Three members of the Exec are paid actual salaries, the two Vice-Presidents and the President. VPs work 20 hours up and get paid less than I do for what is theoretically the same workload. The President works full time. But I’ve seen Nick here on Sundays, and late on week nights. Working for VUWSA isn’t so much a job as a lifestyle.

Which brings me to food. Sometimes, when the Exec used to work late they were given food. Not anymore. Sometimes, food is provided at functions for the dozens of volunteers who represent students on a wide range of boring boards and committees. It’s a nice gesture, and hardly going to put VUWSA into the red on its own.

Many of the critics of the levy rise proposal raised very good points. There are ways VUWSA can streamline and save money, and organisational issues that can and should be solved. In conjunction with a levy rise, it might just save the organisation from financial oblivion.

But here’s some advice to O’Kane et al: take a look at the bigger picture. Take off the blue tinted glasses and think practically about the issue. And seriously, jumping up and down, squealing and clapping your hands like a six year old girl who just got a pony for Christmas isn’t a good look. Grow the fuck up.

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About the Author ()

Nicola Kean: feature writer, philanthropist, womanly woman. Nicola is the smallest member of the Salient team, but eats really large pieces of lasagne. Favourites include 80s music, the scent of fresh pine needles and long walks on the beach.

Comments (38)

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  1. Greg says:

    Some of O’Kane and the VSM side’s tactics were unethical, and would be illegal if this were an election. They went around getting random people to put their hands up for the no-increase side who had no idea what they were voting for. That ain’t democracy, its just being a pile of dickheads who can’t accept that the other side can win the debate (much like the National party in that regard [yes Labour cheated in the election, but so to did National. Get over it. Rewrite the rules and accept it.]).

  2. peteremcc says:

    To be quite honest, I think the right got sick of the left’s tactics.
    And lo and behold when someone turns around and does it to them, they get beat at their own game.

    Everyone knows that the left normally stack these meeting (otherwise you’d hardly have anyone turn up at all) and all the right did this time was bother to turn up.
    And the shouting and raving that went on reminded me particularly of VUWSA usual tactics at ITS rally’s and meetings.

    “There are ways VUWSA can streamline and save money, and organisational issues that can and should be solved. In conjunction with a levy rise, it might just save the organisation from financial oblivion.”

    Very true, but until the budget is being handled properly (or produced at all) i’d like to carry on spending my own money thanks.

  3. bloggette says:

    this is just stupid
    you are a VUWSA employee nicola who gets paid by VUWSA so of course you are going to say they should raise the levy
    also you are supposedly editorially indepdenent
    what a crock, we all know that is a lie now
    salient and vuwsa are just in cahoots togehter as they always were
    you should not be going around advocating for this sort of thing
    you are a journalistic joke

  4. Nicholas O'Kane says:

    “Some of O’Kane and the VSM side’s tactics were unethical, and would be illegal if this were an election. They went around getting random people to put their hands up for the no-increase side who had no idea what they were voting for. That ain’t democracy”- I supported Gareth Robinsons proposal for a secret ballot.
    “What was particularly galling was the meeting being hijacked by viciously ideological right-wingers and VSM supporters, a la Nicholas O’Kane, who got all demagogic and outraged about the proposed levy hike. “-We have a democratic right to be there to oppose the levy increase. If you don’t like us stacking the meetings next time we might try a different tactic to stop the fee increase, not turn up so the meeting doesn’t get quorom.
    “its just being a pile of dickheads who can’t accept that the other side can win the debate “-My response to that is in the words of Micheal Cullen “We won, you Lost, Eat that.”

  5. peteremcc says:

    Don’t be silly bloggette,

    James Robinson gave pretty much the same opinion at the SGM and he won’t be with Salient next year anyway. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

    If Nicola Kean was posting this elsewhere and hiding from her association with VUWSA (though not direct) then maybe this might be an issue. Infact she has done the complete opposite in the very first sentance of this post.

  6. Nicholas O'Kane says:

    Bad news, theyre going to try again to increase the levy on September 20. How suprising.

  7. peteremcc says:

    Can you send me an email at some point Nicholas? Thanks

  8. Greg says:

    Blogette – Salient is editorial independent. James and Nicola could easily have voted against the motion. Do you expect journalists not to vote? (the only one that does not vote as far as I know is Colin James). Can you propose a funding model for Salient which would remove it going through VUWSA? (actually that is quite easy, Salient could have a levy amount as well). Furthermore, at least Nicola and James are honest about it, you hide behind being “blogette”. Hypocrite.

    Peter and Nick – yes you can stack the meeting. Yes the left can as well. The fact that it is possible to do so is a poor reflection on the rest of the student body, not on either side.

    Nick – that’s what happens when you collapse the meeting dorkhead. Of course they will try again. At least at that meeting you had enough people to stop the motion – hence you should have kept going. But no, you fucked up Nick. You are going to have to deal with being that person. One question: are they starting at $120, $110, or $100 at the next meeting?

    Nick and Peter – would the two of you vote for inflation adjustment by itself? For instance, if the motion was split into two different motions, the first for inflation adjustment, the second for the initial amount for 2007, would you vote for the first motion or not?

  9. Nicholas O'Kane says:

    Yes I would vote for inflation adjustment by itself definately. I believe they are going for the $120 again. Petermcc, I will be happy to email you but I don’t know your email adress.
    “Nick – that’s what happens when you collapse the meeting dorkhead. Of course they will try again. At least at that meeting you had enough people to stop the motion – hence you should have kept going. But no, you fucked up Nick. You are going to have to deal with being that person. One question: are they starting at $120, $110, or $100 at the next meeting?” The meeting was inquorate as the quorom count shows. Its not my fault the meeting was inquorate. I apoligise for collapsing the meeting if they did call another one just because of it being inquorate. However I suspect that even if I kept the meeting going (when it was inquorate) they would have called another one because “the right stacked it”. I also suspect that had the vote they kept going despite the quorom count call come out in favour of increasing the VUWSA levy they would be celebrating and ignore the fact the meeting was inquorate.

  10. Jono says:

    Well I originally agreed completely with the fee hike, but I have looked through information around and also know a little bit about the use of VUWSA money, but I think the killer for me was an article on Act on Campuses website, which explains that all these supposed necessary services that VUWSA provides would actually be provided by the University if VUWSA could not provide them as it is in the universities best interests to not have students drop out, so they would provide food parcels, education advocates and similar services just so they don’t lose their students.
    I was also completely against VSM, but I have come to the decision that it is actually better for students in all situations. for my full opinion visit me at my blog here.

    I had a bit of a rant, but the gist of my arguement is there. Also the hijacking of meetings has been done at every general meeting and SRC I have ever been to. and it is generally a tool of the left, not the right. Look at the General meeting last year to introduce the 3 new positions that was hijacked by students who wanted these positions and they basically turned up just to get their people on the Exec and then left. But in my opinion it is not really hijacking as they are all allowed to be there so long as they are actually students. Yet everytime I have pushed for secret ballots at these meetings I have been declined, yet I believe that a lot of the time these votes are changed because people don’t want to vote a certain way infront of others. grow up and get some balls people.

    But whatever happens this is not a democratic General Meeting, less than 100 people out of a community of less than 20,000 what a joke. thats 0.5%

  11. Jono says:

    Of course Nick if the result had come out in favour and been inquorate they would have accepted the result…DUH

  12. CC says:

    Would Nicholas O’Kane advocate a levy increase if it could buy him a personality, appearance and dress sense transplant?

    Because I would vote for that. Alternately, for a motion that banned Mr O’Kane from everything, ever.

  13. Nicholas O'Kane says:

    “Would Nicholas O’Kane advocate a levy increase if it could buy him a personality, appearance and dress sense transplant?” No becauise I don’t think students should have to borrow to live to give me personality, appearance or dress transplant. neither do I think students should have to borrow to live for many of the things VUWSA currently spends money on- your money. I beleive that VUWSA should be accountable for every dollar it spends and spend it wisely. Not parcell heaps out to various rep groups and club grants to forget about, put it in bonus payments and exec grants to themselves ($45 000 was spent on bonuses for themselves, half of the defecit) and perksd of office like free taxi trips, dinners at exec meetings e.t.c, and will continue to oppose levy increases until; i am satisfied all money is being spent wisely.

  14. Nicholas O'Kane says:

    “Would Nicholas O’Kane advocate a levy increase if it could buy him a personality, appearance and dress sense transplant?” No becauise I don’t think students should have to borrow to live to give me personality, appearance or dress transplant. neither do I think students should have to borrow to live for many of the things VUWSA currently spends money on- your money.

  15. CC says:

    “No becauise I don’t think students should have to borrow to live to give me personality, appearance or dress transplant. neither do I think students should have to borrow to live for many of the things VUWSA currently spends money on- your money.”

    joke

    your head

  16. Jenn says:

    Nick, what exactly do you think VUWSA wastes money on?

    Jono – there are so many issues with the voluntary membership argument i dont know where to begin.

    First, services provided by the university would still be paid for by students through the student services levy. This is already $125 at Vic (more than VUWSA is proposing), and this pays for “Student Services” i.e. disability support, counselling, hardship fund, financial services, etc etc. Do you think they could possibly provide the same services as VUWSA as well as their own and keep their levy at the same rate? No, it would certainly rise by at least the current VUWSA levy amount if not more. And you certainly wouldnt have control over this – you would most likely find out that it had been raised when you saw your fees statement on enrollment.

    Second, the services that the University would provide would only be services, there would be no independent representation nor democratic representation. Class reps would possibly exist, probably not, as the university is already overburdened administratively already. Those class reps would be who the lecturer picked, and they wouldnt have people like Nicki and Sandra from VUWSA to train them independently. Faculty delegates would again be whoever the faculty shoulder tapped, and who would they be responsible to? they wouldnt be elected so they would have no real mandate from students to represent their views. and VET, the VUWSA Education Team which I re-launched last year wouldnt exist, so there would be no networking opportunities for those faculty delegates to work on campus wide problems and have a united student voice on student matters. Thats just individual representation.

    Then there are rep groups. If VUWSA went voluntary, it would probably not survive. Which means rep groups would no longer exist. Which means no bbqs at law school, arch and design or commerce, no balls, no jazz nights, no fun stuff on sattelitte campuses. Oh, probably no orientation, cos the uni sure wouldnt pay for that. And you can buy new walking shoes with the money you save not paying VUWSA levys because those free busses will go as well. VUWSA pays half of the cost of those bus tickets that you love. Salient would either dissapear or start charging, cos VUWSA pays for that too. This is just to mention a few things that would go.

    Basically, the uni can provide services if VUWSA went voluntary but you will still pay for it through your student services levy which would probably double, you will loose independent representation, you loose your voice on committees, you loose services you probably didnt know VUWSA paid for or organised. Basically what you loose is STUDENT CONTROL OF STUDENT AFFAIRS. But for $20 bucks extra, you can keep that, and VUWSA staff can retain their quality of life.

    Thanks Nicola for your blog. Sometimes I dont think people really understand where the money goes and what VUWSA does behind the scenes.

  17. Nicholas O'Kane says:

    I will respond to the question “Nick, what exactly do you think VUWSA wastes money on?” later on. For now I will rebunk all Jenns points.
    To start with the main issue is the levy increase, not VSM, but I will be happy to debate VSM if you want to.
    Jenn comes out with all the usual compulsory membership scare tactics. thats what they are scare tactics because theres little if any truth in most of her claims. the big benefits of VSM is that it enhances, not diminshes “STUDENT CONTROL OF STUDENT AFFAIRS” as students have a CHOICE as to if they want to join VUWSA or not.
    First with the claims about the student services levy going up this is the point with the most truth in it as the university will probably have to increase this levy, but it won’t have to do so by $99. The university already provides excellent value for money with the levy for all the counselling, the disability support services, creches, student health, learning support, finance advisory service all for only $125. VUWSA doesn’t have such good value for money. The university certainly won’t spend money in futile protests for whatever cause the socialist left wants. Neither will it gives heaps of money to every “rep group” on the grounds that some people are more equal than others. I have no reason to believe that the university can’t provide the services VUWSA provides at the same cost if not lower. According to http://www.vuwsa.org.nz/about/where-the-money-goes/ VUWSA spent $10.29 on Student job search, Education services and welfare services per student in 2002. I included exec salaries in this figure as the university would also have to employ people to provide these services. While the VUWSA exec get paid less than what the university would pay these people the university won’t need to employ a WRO or campaigns, activities, clubs officers to cary out these services. Adjusting for inflation at 4% each year gives $12.61 in todays dollars which is $14.19 with GST. Thus the student services levy would only need to go up by $14.19 to cover the services VUWSA provides. This is much less than the “at least the current VUWSA levy amount if not more” Jenn scares you with.
    As for her second paragraph a VSM VUWSA can still provide class reps, student representatives on faculty boards e.t.c will be chosen by a VSM VUWSA and be held accountible to a VSM VUWSA. This is another scare tactic of Jenn.
    “If VUWSA went voluntary, it would probably not survive”-this is a collasal scare tactic. AUSA still exixts despite VSM. there is no case I’m aware of of a student assosciation ceasing to exist due to VSM. “rep groups would no longer exist” This is false. Rep groups could charge their own fees and exist independently of VUWSA. Thats if students want them. all the other services, except the free bus tickets which would become half price bus tickets could be provided by a VSM VUWSA. As for the free bus tickets why should I have to pay bus tickets for other people. VUWSA wates lots of money on students who missuse them as http://www.salient.org.nz/news/news-in-brief-2 points out one student got 31 bus tickets. all the above shows what Jenns arguements really are- scare tactics

  18. Franky boy says:

    Hi Nick!

  19. peteremcc says:

    Hey Nick, I submitted my email on the form but then realised that doesn’t show up.
    My email is available on the contact me page on the link on my name.

  20. sufi says:

    Nicola says “VUWSA is expanding to meet its expanding constituency.”
    Translation: More students enrolled at VUW which meant vuwsa had more income which student politicians decided to spend.

    “It’s recently opened and expanded offices on other campuses. New staff have to be taken on to run these offices.”
    Translation: Vuwsa’s income increased and student politicians overspent. Now they’re claiming the association is on the verge of financial disaster.

    “More services have to be provided.”
    Says who Nicola? Vuwsa’s income does not relate to demand. It relates to the number of students who enrol – you know, bums on seats.

    Because of compulsory membership you have no way of knowing what demands students have.

    Student politicians have simply overspent knowing that if things get bad they can simply hit up students for more money.

    The only way of determinig demand is to allow students to signal their preferences through a voluntary pricing system.

    Set a price for vuwsa membership and then let students decide whether or not they want to pay that price. Then you’ll know what services students want and what they’d be prepared to pay.

    Right now that decision is being made by student politicians and 70 or so people at a meeting, and then that price can be imposed on 13,000 other people. That’s crazy.

    Of course if you’re one of the elite who benefit from compulsory funding then it’s no surprise you get “very angry” when some people say they don’t want to pay even more to subsidise your privilege.

  21. Nicola Kean says:

    If “privilege” is getting paid for half the number of hours you work and working long hours in a shit hole of an office, then I guess I am privileged. And, anyway, even if I didn’t get paid by VUWSA, then I would still benefit through the services it provides.

    But most of you responses have ignored my basic point, which is that you can’t look at an issue such as this only through an ideology. I may not be a member of ACT on Campus or a Young Nat, but I still hate parting with my money as much as anyone else. And don’t you think Salient would be the first to criticise VUWSA for trying to generate more income if we thought it wasn’t necessary? It’s not as if we’re constantly kissing VUWSA’s arse.

  22. Greg says:

    You do have a choice about whether or not you join VUWSA. You have chosen to go to Victoria University of Wellington. If you are that concerned about not being a member of a students’ association, they you could have gone to Auckland. That is choice. Your problem is that you didn’t weigh that up when deciding on what university to go to. Your choice was Victoria, which meant you accepted the conditions by which the university operates.
    If you want VUWSA to become voluntary, then you should use the market. And walk away to another university.

    Scare tactics Nick? Honestly? VUWSA has no asset base as AUSA does. The university is not democratically accountable to students, there is no actual guarantee that the university will provide those services. None whatsoever.

    “The university already provides excellent value for money with the levy for all the counselling, the disability support services, creches, student health, learning support, finance advisory service all for only $125. VUWSA doesn’t have such good value for money” – the university uses more than just levy for those services Nick. Furthermore, a number of them would not exist if it had not been for VUWSA fighting for them. Especially during the cutbacks by the university a few years back.

    “won’t need to employ a WRO or campaigns, activities, clubs officers to cary out these services” – so those services wouldn’t exist. Great, thanks Nick.

    “a VSM VUWSA can still provide class reps, student representatives on faculty boards e.t.c will be chosen by a VSM VUWSA and be held accountible to a VSM VUWSA.” – really? You enter into problems about what happens when a non-member seeks the help of a class rep. Or how are non-members represented on those boards? Say there was a 50-50 split of membership. Is it fair that only half of all students are represented on faculty boards (and all those committees)? No, but that is what you are asking.

    Sufi – the cost of setting up extra offices outweighs the extra income more students brings in. Furthermore, more students means more people needing help. Which means more cost. Learn some economics.

    All you talk of demand shows that you have no understanding of what VUWSA actually does.

    And Sufi – you undoubtedly have benefited from VUWSA, in ways you would never imagine.

    And I agree with Nicola that many of you need to put away your blue-tinted glasses, and look at what actually happens. Some basis in reality would be a good idea (I know this is hard for you Nick, but actually try for once).

  23. DJ Tanner says:

    TO: Nick O’Kane
    RE: Breathing
    MSG: stop

  24. Del says:

    O’Kane needs a taste of her own surname

  25. Nicholas O'Kane says:

    “VUWSA has no asset base as AUSA does”-Whose fault is this? Maybe those student politicians from the left of the political spectrum who gave Ngai Tauria for many years 15% of VUWSAs budget for only 7.8% of students and much of this money went to Wi Nepia s pockets in a giant fraud. If all this money had gone into building up VUWSAs assets VUWSA would have a much larger asset base. The money wasted on having a Queer officer, WRO, Enviroment officer could increase such an asset base by $10 000 a year. Also how about all the money spent on political campaigns for whatever cause the socialist left like?
    “there is no actual guarantee that the university will provide those services. None whatsoever”-If the university doesn’t provide these services a VSM VUWSA can, and then we won’t have to worry about the university increasing the student services levy.
    “You enter into problems about what happens when a non-member seeks the help of a class rep. Or how are non-members represented on those boards? Say there was a 50-50 split of membership. Is it fair that only half of all students are represented on faculty boards (and all those committees)? No, but that is what you are asking.” Interesting how you don’t also complain about maori students, just because of their skin colour, getting more representation than the rest of us as Ngai Tauria has representation on every faculty board at this university. If students want maori students on faculty boards they can vote them in. Having Ngai Tauria representation on faculty boards and other university comitees e.t.c is undemocratic. I want to see you complain about this Greg. OK I do agnowledge if non-members can’t be represented on faculty boards and university council might be a problem. Perhaps some kind of arrangement with the university can be worked out to deal with this. AUSA has student representatives and class reps (further dispelling Jenns scare tactics about them not existing) as shown on http://www.ausa.auckland.ac.nz/wave/classreps.html and http://www.ausa.auckland.ac.nz/wave/voice.html . As for me choosing to study at Victoria and not Auckland I plan to solve the problem by helping bring VSM to VUWSA.

  26. Nick Kelly says:

    A few points from Nicola’s article:
    I completely disagree about the venue, whilst its not perfect the sound quality is far better than the quad. The issue with quorum is basically how general meeting go, and did even when Jeremy was president, in fact this at the 2005 AGM after the Ngai Tauira issue was up for debate.
    The flyers that I handed out only advertised the SGM and not fee setting. But even if others did advertise both its not hypocracy – thats the spin of a few crazies trying to manipulate the situation. VUWSA opposes course fee increases because we believe the government should increase funding. Its a different argument to the VUWSA levy and the two should not be confused at all.

    I’m not going to enter much of the rest of the debate, except to say that if the university was providing these services they’d most likely charge more than VUWSA does. The Auckland situation is hardly a modle – AUSA are currently having difficulty negotiation there service level agreement with Stuart McCuts. The students who belong to AUSA don’t pay them a levy, they pay it to the university and the uni gets to say what it is.

    Finally I see no problem with Salient expressing opinions on VUWSA issues. University students are intelligent people who can see that an opinion is an opinion and make their own judgement call on it. The role of Salient is to get discussion going over issues which this post does.

  27. Nicholas O'Kane says:

    “. But even if others did advertise both its not hypocracy – thats the spin of a few crazies trying to manipulate the situation. VUWSA opposes course fee increases because we believe the government should increase funding. Its a different argument to the VUWSA levy and the two should not be confused at all. “-Yeah Right. Every time the university tries to increase its fees your protests are directed against the university, not the government. If you beleive universities should be funded by the government I got an idea- why not have student assosciatioins funded by the government?

  28. David Radich says:

    Look to be honest, noone really gives a damn about VUWSA. Its sad I know. The problem is that its all political, if it were a student body that DID not worry about political issues, as Chris Bishop pointed out the other day, I am adamant that people would take more interest.
    I feel people wouldn’t mind paying the extra. But when you have a body that passes motions, about war in Iraq, thats when the vast majority of the students lose interest. Then when you have a body that opposess bills in parliament that aren’t a major issue for a student body ie Wayne Mapps 90 day work bill, it makes people lose any faith they had in VUWSA. What it is is a Union, first off I don’t like Unions, I especially don’t want to be a part of a Union that doesn’t care about what I want, and what my fellow right-wingers want. You may say, well why don’t you run? I don’t know why we should have to run for something we don’t want to be a part of?
    And Nicholas O’Kane, please don’t get up there and wave your arms and stamp your feet, it was embarassing to watch.

  29. Nick says:

    VUWSA is an association, not a union. That’s what the ‘A’ stands for.
    Don’t worry, you don’t belong to a union.

  30. Cunt is just a word says:

    I find it Ironic, that a person like Jordan King, who is a staunch ACT supporter, and a VSM man, joined the Labour party at the start of the Second Trimester…to spy on them (lol) What a cock

    If that’s the length that people like these idiots are prepared to take, just to win (to the detriment of VUWSA), then I wonder if they really are acting in the best interests of ALL students.

  31. Jenn says:

    my comments were not scare tactics, as nick says, they are grounded in three years experience dealing with university management, beauraucrats, and students associations. from sitting on academic board, to attending fee setting councils, to sitting on other various committees as student reps, i know there are very few at upper managment level that care about serving students needs, and even fewer that worry about independent representation. i know it would cost significantly more that the $14 nick proposes to provide the same services as VUWSA – the university raised the student services levy this year by more than that to cover inflation and the spread onto new campuses, and if they had to cover the foodbank, education coordinators, orientation, salient, campus angels, bus tickets, lockers and car parks im pretty sure it would be at least the same as the VUWSA levy.

    the simple fact is that the university’s primary business is education, not welfare or advocacy. VUWSA were the ones who introduced the free bus tickets a few years ago and fought tooth and nail to get those. if they hadnt initiated the discussions with managment, you would all still be walking up the hill and complaining. if VUWSA hadnt organised campus angels, would the university have started offering personal alarms at the library (which in fact VUWSA paid for). if VUWSA didnt administer the car parks and lockers, do you think we would still have them? if VUWSA hadnt BUILT the student union building and the rec centre, would we have them today? this is NOT scare tactics, its reality. VUWSA has been around for years working behind the scenes for student welfare and rights. most initiatives come from VUWSA through students who care for their peers and are willing to work long hours for less than minimum wage.

    as to the claim that the other services that they wouldnt provide are redundant, i would argue that the fact VUWSA has those positions (queer rep, intl rep, WRO) shows that it is a progressive organisation that cares about the needs of all its students, not just the white males like nick o’kane. there are huge equity issues and barriers to education (discrimination, sexism, poverty, disabilities etc) that many students face that are not dealt with by the university itself, nor would the university deal with them if VUWSA were voluntary. VUWSA recognises inequities and barriers and has positions on its exec in order to represent, support and provide advocacy for them. usually those in a priviledged position fail to see these inequities because they arent the ones affected (or they simply dont care about them). indeed this is another reason why we have rep groups because VUWSA believes in self-determination for those groups – you wouldnt have a rugby coach for a cricket team, so why would you let non-queer students decide what the issues facing queer students are?

    the point im trying to make essentially is this: we all benefit in one way or another through the services that VUWSA provides independent of the university. VUWSA advocates and agitates for positive change for students, to remove barriers to education and support students while they are here. even though you may not feel that you have benefitted from VUWSA in any way this year, you have. any time you read salient, any time you use the gym facilities, catch the #17 bus, any time you sit in the student union building you are benefiting from the work VUWSA does and has done in the past. when you get your student loan statement and it reminds you that your interest will be wiped, that is through students associations lobbying. any time you are able to take an academic greivance or challenge an unfair mark, that is possible because VUWSA stands up for students rights to quality education. in a perfect world inequalities wouldnt exist, but this isnt a perfect world. the economic reality is that the university would not bother to provide these services, and if it tried,the cost would be far greater than the $20 VUWSA is proposing to raise their levy by.

  32. Nicholas O'kane says:

    Jenn, this post contradicts your previous post. In your first post you state “Oh, probably no orientation, cos the uni sure wouldnt pay for that.”- but in your second post you state it would cost the “significantly more that the $14 nick proposes to provide the same services as VUWSA…orientation” strongly implying the university would cover the cost of orientation. What am I to believe, that if VUWSA went voluntary the university would run orientation to pay for these services or it would refuse to?
    First Jenn of course your right when saying that the cost of the University providing ALL the services VUWSA does it would cost more than $14 per student because my $14 per student didn’t include orientation (I beleived you in your first post when you said that the university wouldn’t rum orientation).
    amongst the possible options regarding orientation and how it could run under VSM.
    1) Have the university run it by increasing the student services levy to fund it. The student services levy would need to go up by $17.40 to cover orientation in adition to the welfare, education and student job search. the figures again are adjusted for inflation and GST using the same methods described in my previous post and originate from http://www.vuwsa.org.nz/about/where-the-money-goes/ . As for Jenns claim that the university won’t be able to provide services at the same cost as VUWSA, there is little hard evidence to back this up.
    2) Have a VSM VUWSA run orientation funded by charging a seperate orientation fee for those students who want orientation. I beleive this is more likely than a VSM VUWSA funding it out of VUWSA levies since a VSM VUWSA would have to reduce its levies by as much as possible since students are extremly price sensitive. I have little knowledge of how high or low the fee would be, but one would expect it to be high enough to cover the cost of providing orientation.

    “VUWSA has those positions (queer rep, intl rep, WRO) shows that it is a progressive organisation that cares about the needs of all its students, not just the white males like nick o’kane” This is a personal attack. To say that I don’t want Queer officer or WRO just because I’m not a gay or female is a personal attack and completely untrue. I oppose these positions because they suck up VUWSA money that can be better spent elsewhere and on the issue of principle that people should be treated the same regardless of gender, race e.t.c
    “there are huge equity issues and barriers to education (discrimination, sexism, poverty, disabilities etc) that many students face” A socialist myth. Poverty can be a barier but this is solved by the student loan scheme so people who can’t afford to study can borrow money to study.
    .”VUWSA recognises inequities and barriers”- should read “VUWSA pretends inequities and barriers exist”
    “has positions on its exec in order to represent, support and provide advocacy for them” should read “VUWSA wastes lots of students money having positions on its exec, supposedbly in order to represent them, in order to help get left wing socialists elected to the exec and pretend they help these students”.
    “usually those in a priviledged position fail to see these inequities because they arent the ones affected (or they simply dont care about them)” Another socialist myth.

    “the economic reality is that the university would not bother to provide these services”-if this is the case a VSM VUWSA can. “when you get your student loan statement and it reminds you that your interest will be wiped, that is through students associations lobbying”- Don’t you mean through Labour bribing voters, with taxpayers money?
    “the point Im trying to make essentially is this: we all benefit in one way or another through the services that VUWSA provides independent of the university” I agree with you here Jenn and believe that I get more than $99 for being part of VUWSA but believe VUWSA can do even better.

  33. mark says:

    Who are you Nick O’Kane? Do you fancy yourself as a modern day Senator Joe McCarthy protecting us from the iniquities of the international socialist conspiracy? Do you wait around on the Salient website all day waiting for a post so you can quote it back at them? Do you spend your Saturday nights poring through annual VUWSA and University reports so you can figure out the intricacies of economic forecasting and look for evidence proving that as a white male (sigh it’s soooo hard) you aren’t actually in a position of privilege? Newflash Mr O’Kane, no-one cares. Go get drunk, get laid, make some friends or get stoned. Go enjoy your time as a student instead of worrying about $100 which actually helps out a lot of students.

  34. DJ TANNER says:

    “Newflash Mr O’Kane, no-one cares. Go get drunk, get laid, make some friends or get stoned.”

    quoted for ‘will never happen’ award of the universe

  35. sufi says:

    Nicola – your privilege relates to the nature of Salient’s funding.

    Regardless of the reason you’re working for Salient, you’re working for an organisation which is subsidised by others against their will. Because of this subsidy Salient is not fully subject to the same commercial pressures as other organisations, and those involved in Salient are insulated from the consequences of failure and are freer to ‘do their own thing’ within the magazine.

    The student working for a fully commercially funded entity doesn’t enjoy these privileges.

    You say, “even if I didn’t get paid by VUWSA, then I would still benefit through the services it provides.” That’s fine – so presumably you’d be willing to pay for those services voluntarily? Other students however don’t believe they benefit. Why then should they have to pay for vuwsa?

    You say, “But most of you responses have ignored my basic point, which is that you can’t look at an issue such as this only through an ideology.”
    You have an ideology, I have an ideology. An ideology is just a set of ideas which shape the way you think and relate to things. Our ideologies differ but please don’t tell me I’m the only one who is ideological.

    “I may not be a member of ACT on Campus or a Young Nat, but I still hate parting with my money as much as anyone else.”
    I’m pleased you mentioned Act on Campus and the Young Nats. Vuwsa is supposed to ‘represent’ all students. How can vuwsa which promotes Greens/Alliance policy on the funding of tertiary ed represent the views of Act and National voting students?

    “And don’t you think Salient would be the first to criticise VUWSA for trying to generate more income if we thought it wasn’t necessary? It’s not as if we’re constantly kissing VUWSA’s arse.”
    On money, the issue that really counts, Salient is definitely kissing vuwsa’s arse. Especially when the Salient editor writes, “A rise in the levy is the best way to preserve VUWSA at its current level.”

    He couldn’t pucker up anymore if he tried.

  36. Geoff says:

    wow. I forgot how fucking petty and stupid this shit could get.

  37. sufi says:

    Greg says, “You do have a choice about whether or not you join VUWSA. You have chosen to go to Victoria University of Wellington…. Your choice was Victoria, which meant you accepted the conditions by which the university operates. If you want VUWSA to become voluntary, then you should use the market. And walk away to another university.”

    This is right Greg but the question is why should this be the case? You can teach at VUW without becoming a member of AUS. You can drive a car without being a member of the AA. It should be possible to be a student without joining an association. The anomaly for tertiary students is created by the law and that needs to change.

    Greg says, “…you undoubtedly have benefited from VUWSA, in ways you would never imagine.”

    Greg – are you saying that you know how to spend my money better than I do? If so can you tell me what groceries I should buy next week?

    Greg – why should a person be forced to join an association when they don’t want the services (including ‘representation’) provided by the association?

  38. John says:

    Fuck.. I was a student at Vic 30 years ago, and this sounjds just like the VUWSA SGMs I used to go to then… plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose

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