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September 11, 2006 | by  | in Online Only |
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Nicholas O’Kane on a Hangover

Chris Bishop, speaking ever so eloquently at last weeks meeting said that it wasn’t a question of VUWSA needing more money to provide services, it was a question of whether students needed those services. Which is funny coming from a guy who received from VUWSA a 10,000 dollar grant for Australs, and then got VUWSA to lobby the University for another huge chunk of cash.

I heard a great rumour that Chris Bishop was going to run for President on a voluntary student membership ticket. Which makes me smile if it was true. Given the above, it kind of sums up opposition to the levy raise for me.

Though does no one actually realise that for the first time in years people are paying attention? Which is probably the only positive I could take from daring to brave the Salient website after a very large night. O’Kane’s bleating is hard to take on a hangover.

I got up and spoke at that meeting, (completely unplanned) because I felt that a lot of people are being tremendously short sighted in their arguments. And it was not a sign of the great Nick Kelly/ Robinson conspiracy to pry an extra twenty dollars from student hands.

VUWSA is not just the exec. That’s what I think people are missing. First off, if you disagree with an organisation’s direction, have a say. VOTE in the elections for candidates that you want to see on the exec. So you can change it. Just by voting.

You vent your frustrations at the exec, and think you are being ripped off and your money misspent. But that’s just not true. There are a number of tirelessly working people who actually slave for students, who have little to do with the exec. And are totally handicapped by the fact that each year they have to deal with all new people. If the levy isn’t raised, the exec will still stay the same next year, you won’t even be hurting them at all. They’ll still be there. But there will be in 2007 probably (and most likely by 2008), smaller and less frequent editions of Salient, reduced presence at Uni Games and Winter Games, smaller resources for clubs, no bus passes between campuses, little to no Orientation, reduced Educational representation. And the people directly involved and affected by these work mostly independently of the Exec.

When Nick O’Kane stands up and cries out corruption because in 2005, money was spent on photographs and honoraria and that this is corruption, is bollocks. VUWSA is an organisation like any other, money is spent on routine administerial matters, and also VUWSA is one of the least financially rewarding places to work for. Though, have your say, make your case and the exec can work for free.

But as always, you get what you pay for.

Someone even went as far as saying that the University could do everything that VUWSA could. But think about it this way. If the University did do this, I guarantee you they wouldn’t go about doing it in the most economical way possible. Your fees would go up by a little more than twenty dollars. And would you want the University providing an advocacy service against itself? That sounds like a great plan!

I propose that such matters are decided at the yearly VUWSA election thingy. Kinda like what happens in America. Because America is always right.

People snipe about the fact that Wellington has no University community or culture. And in my five years in Wellington I’ve watched it whither on the vine. Now instead of being a town with a poorly attended Orientation, you want to be a town with no Orientation. Where clubs membership is low. With a poor student publication and where students don’t have a voice.

Victoria isn’t really equipped to deal with Voluntary Student Unionism. The University would provide a number of the services VUWSA does, but they definitely wouldn’t do it for free. VUWSA has resources in the Trust, but it’s not set up to make private investment like AUSA.

It’s a mess, and this problem should have been spotted earlier, and was raised in 2005 (as was bought to my attention last night) in Salient. If this levy raise does not go through, I am glad I won’t be around here for too much longer.

The levy raise, is a last minute solution. But punish the exec come election time, don’t handicap those that had no role in the fact that it was allowed to get this out of hand.

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About the Author ()

James Robinson is a university dropout turned journalist who likes to pretend he has an honours degree. Turn ons include soup, scarfs, a hot bath and some FM-smooth Kenny G-esque instrumental jazz. Turn offs include student politicians, the homeless, and people who pronounce it supposebly.

Comments (42)

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  1. CC says:

    If Nick O’Kane advocates ANYTHING, you can safely assume it is a horrible idea. The man attracts failure like blah blah fuck you Nick O’Kane.

  2. Nicholas O'kane says:

    “If Nick O’Kane advocates ANYTHING, you can safely assume it is a horrible idea. The man attracts failure like blah blah fuck you Nick O’Kane. ” then I will start advocating what I don’t want.

  3. God says:

    I comand ye all…ignore O’Kane, he has over read thy old testiment and is all fire and brimestone. 2000 years ago I made a management decision to upgrade our image so we put out the new testiment. Yeah it maybe a bit to PC and the Jews never really got into it, but overall I think the rebranding of the bible through the new edition worked.
    So reject Nicholas or the snake pit awaits thou in the burning pits of hell…

  4. Jesus says:

    Fine for you dad, you didn’t have to spend three days nailed to a fucking cross. No wonder you wanted the new testiment, so you could detract from the whole taking the 7th day off when creating the universe – had you not slacked off prehaps you could have stoped war, poverty and Britney Spears!

    Bastard

  5. God says:

    look son I know we’ve had our differences – but really why do you need to keep mentioning Britney Spears. Everyone makes mistakes, even me!

  6. sufi says:

    James says, “if you disagree with an organisation’s direction, have a say. VOTE in the elections for candidates that you want to see on the exec. So you can change it. Just by voting.”

    It’s not the organisation’s direction that many students are concerned about; it’s the fact they have to join it in the first place.

    First, individuals should have a choice about joining vuwsa. Voting comes after that.

  7. Greg says:

    Why don’t you get VUWSA to lobby the government for VSM then? You have the opportunity to do so, but you don’t. Go to the VUWSA office and ask for an exec candidacy application form. Go on Sufi.

  8. god says:

    Look here you lot, just support the levy being $120
    Christ almighty you should see what my son had to pay for all you horrible sinners

  9. Jesus says:

    Yeah 3 days of pain so you’d have a bloody climax to your new testiment – and 2000 years the Arabs still haven’t converted. God you couldn’t organise a piss up at a last super (its true there was only low alcoholic beer), why did I have to be your son.

  10. sufi says:

    Greg – I don’t want to associate with you but you want to associate with me.

    Why? I’m an evil right winger. I believe in low flat tax. I punch small children for fun.

    Why on earth do you want me in your association? Could it be that you only want me for my money? Say it ain’t so Greg!

  11. CC says:

    “Greg – I don’t want to associate with you but you want to associate with me.

    Why? I’m an evil right winger. I believe in low flat tax. I punch small children for fun.

    Why on earth do you want me in your association? Could it be that you only want me for my money? Say it ain’t so Greg!”

    I bet that he doesn’t want you for your shining personality. BAM!

  12. sufi says:

    CC – exactly. I’m a real miserable git.

    So why does Greg want to associate with me????

  13. Muppett says:

    Sufi – Greg wants to associate himself with you so you will actually do something about VUWSA, instead of just bitching all the time.
    I’ve said it before – you are a broken record.
    So stop moaning and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Start up a VSM club, go along to the SGM, run for the exec – just do something instead of moaning about VUWSA and repeating your useless ACT party agenda shit.

    VSM (or any change) is like good hair. It wont happen overnight, but it may happen. Any change starts by people getting off their arses and doing something. You are at the stage where you havent contemplated standing up yet.

  14. David Radich says:

    Why can’t everyone stop being so petty over this. I don’t want to pay the $20 as I cannot stand the fact that it’s going to a bunch of people who don’t represent what I want. There have been no candidates since starting here-albeit a very short time ago- that represent my views. You may say stop moaning and run yourself. Well I am far to busy to run. I don’t mind paying more to keep VUWSA alive, however if I am to pay this, I want them to cut out all the political bullshit, PC crap that they seem so obsessed with keeping. If they cut out the womens room, queer officer, environmental officer etc and start focusing on what we as students want. Start bringing back some of that student culture that everyone supposedly longs for. I do want VSM, but as has been mentioned, it would completely screw VUWSA, which would get rid of SOME, not lots of services. So at this place in time perhaps VSM may not be a good idea. VUWSA needs to sort its shit out before it gets my vote for a fee raise!

  15. sufi says:

    Thanks for the advice muppet. I’ll bear it in mind.

    Why should anyone be told they should get involved in an organisation when they don’t want to join it in the first place?

    Muppet – you obviously don’t like the Act party. Well stop moaning about them and get involved. Stand for the local electorate committee. Become a candidate. If you don’t like Act’s policies get involved and change them. All you need to do is win some votes.

    See – stupid isn’t it?

    My humble contribution to this issue is to ask questions and challenge the views of those who want to restrict students’ right to freedom of association.

    It’s called a debate and it’s what a university is supposed to be about. If you don’t like my arguments muppet then counter with your arguments of your own.

    That you haven’t decided to do so suggests to me that you have no arguments. Abuse and name-calling might work on some of your opponents but it won’t stop people complaining about compulsory membership.

    And I suspect you know compulsory membership is wrong. That’s why you want to shut down anyone who points this out.

    The pro-compulsory side of this issue doesn’t have a monopoly on this debate.

  16. To David, you say you don’t want to give money to someone who doesn’t represent what you do. But what I’m saying is that in reality your money doesn’t really go to the exec. It goes to staff.

    The levy is a lot like the tax you pay really. No one forces you to get “involved” with the organisation. You are “forced” to join, as why be a Victoria University Student if you are so offended at being part of the association.

    It’s really to me just a matter of slight selfishness. I’ve never been ideologically aligned with anyone at VUWSA, and I bet if the exec was packed with right wingers you wouldn’t see Nick Kelly petitioning for change. You get so much more used out of a levy than you actually think. Even if it aint to the dollar.

    And would you rather pay 120 dollars to the Exec you hate, or double that to a University you hate even more?

  17. It has been suggested by many that if VUWSA didn’t exist, then the university would charge students more for the same (or less) service.

    The present fee cap, coupled with the fact the university will want to raise fees by 5% a year every year for the forseeable future, means that it could not do so. VUW cannot charge a massively increased student services levy without breaking the law, and running the risk of getting no government funding at all.

  18. I would be fairly confident in the fact that if VUWSA went under, the University could get exemption to charge more for Studet Services.

  19. Perhaps, but an exemption allowing them to add more to their fees than the cost of the VUWSA levy?

    If there’s a slight short-fall TEC would probably (if they keep going as they have been) tell them to cross-subsidise from profitable areas.

  20. Jenn says:

    David – i dont know what you were doing last year, but the exec had THREE Act on Campus members – Hannah Collings, Kerry O’Connor, and David Cassidy, as well as TWO young nats – Brendan Jarvis and Bevan Callaghan. The other five were made up of one lapsed Labour Party member (Jeremy) , a workers party member (Nick), and three non-partisan members – myself, Maddy and Cordelia. and Miri after Bevan left.

    That makes the VUWSA exec possibly the most representative ever, and you can hardly describe it as monopolised by left wingers, or that VUWSA has a left wing agenda. remember YOU vote the exec members in, so if you dont vote (or stand for election), dont complain.

  21. Jenn says:

    Graeme – here is the relevant sections of the fee maxima policy from the TEC website – note that student services levys (aka “learner services”) are listed in the list of what is not covered under fee maxima. therefore my point stands – the student services levy would rise significantly to cover costs of taking on any services previously provided by the students association. For example, Auckland Uni raised their student services levy in 1999 when AUSA went voluntary by MORE than the AUSA levy – which was $140 at the time.

    TEOs receiving Student Component funding under section 159ZC of the Education Act 1989, or a grant under section 321 of the Education Act 1989, must not set fee/course costs that exceed the maxima or limits set under sections 159ZA (2)(e) and 321(3), respectively. Compliance with this policy is required under the following legislation:

    Section 227 (1A) of the Education Act 1989 requires compliance by Tertiary Education Institutions (TEIs) with this obligation as imposed under section 159ZD(2).
    Section 236C of the Education Act 1989 requires compliance by Private Training Establishments (PTEs) with this obligation as imposed under section 159ZD(2).
    Section 321(3) enables the Minister to set conditions for grants.

    See http://www.legislation.govt.nz

    4.8.1 Fee/Course Costs Maxima and Limits Policy
    http://www.tec.govt.nz/funding_guide/2006/student_component/4_8.htm#481

    The Fee/Course Costs Maxima (FCCM) and Limits policy has three main features:

    The FCCM, which apply to non-degree and undergraduate courses.
    The Annual Fee Movement Limit (AFML), which applies to non-degree and undergraduate courses with fees below the relevant maxima.
    The Postgraduate Fee Increase Limit (PFIL), which applies to postgraduate courses.
    What Fee/Course Costs are included?
    The FCCM, AFML, and PFIL cover compulsory costs when all of the following apply:

    The Tertiary Education Organisation (TEO) is the sole source of the relevant items.
    All learners are required to pay.
    The charge meets guidelines for borrowing under the compulsory fees/course costs component of the Student Loan Scheme. See 6.1.3.2 Enrolment Criteria.
    Fee/Course Costs include the following:

    Tuition fees.
    Compulsory administration charges.
    Examination fees.
    Other charges associated with a course or programme of study.
    Material charges.
    Field trips.
    Any compulsory purchase of equipment or books through the TEO.

    The following are cost items that are not subject to the Fee/Course Costs Maxima and Limits policy:
    The cost of returning exam scripts or exam recounts.
    International handling charges for domestic students living overseas and studying extramurally.
    Compulsory books or equipment that learners can purchase either from the TEO or from another source.
    Student association fees.
    Learner services levies approved by a Tertiary Education Institute’s (TEI’s) council.
    Accommodation charges.
    Non-compulsory purchases using the course-related costs component of the Student Loan Scheme.

  22. Jono says:

    Laughs at Jenn caling herself and Maddy non-partisan…

  23. Graeme Edgeler says:

    my mistake. I had assumed that the rules around the fee freeze – which did apply to the student services levy – had been carried over.

  24. sufi says:

    James says, “The levy is a lot like the tax you pay really.”
    No it’s not. Taxes are imposed by government. Vuwsa is not a government, it’s an incorporated society and incorporated societies do not impose taxes they set fees. And apart from most student associations, all incorporated societies’ fees are voluntary.

    “No one forces you to get “involved” with the organisation.”
    Students are forced to get involved with vuwsa they’re made to join and fund the association as a condition of enrolment.

    “…why be a Victoria University Student if you are so offended at being part of the association.”
    Why should someone who wants a tertiary education be forced to join a separate group which doesn’t provide tertiary education and may, in the opinion of the individual student, do nothing to enhance the quality of the education the student is paying to recieve?

    “It’s really to me just a matter of slight selfishness.”
    Indeed. But the selfishness comes from those who think they have an automatic right to other people’s money.

    “You get so much more used out of a levy than you actually think. Even if it aint to the dollar.”
    James – who are you to judge what value 13,000 diverse individuals derive from vuwsa? Do you know how to spend their money better than they do?

    James – how much do you think Vic students would pay for vuwsa if membership was optional?

  25. James says:

    VSM, will lead to higher student fees.

    And I didn’t say that VUWSA levy was a tax, I said it was a similar concept.

    And Sufi, who are you to judge?

    The irony of it is that aside from a very small amount of people in support of VSM noone really cares about paying the levy.

    It’s just that you all make so much gosh darn noise. I could stand around and yell and pretend the whole word was on my side too.

  26. You can’t say a small amount of people care about paying it actually if we take the figures from the vote as a guessing point, at least 43% are worried about paying more as a VUWSA levy, this shows that more than a few care, and anyway for me 100 students can’t be a very good survey base so lets say that the figures can’t be used at all then you have nothing to stand on when stating that only a small nuimber care…

  27. bran says:

    not that i care or anything, but what are you saying jonathan newton? if you\’re not going to use the 100 what figures are you going to use? if only 100 people show up to determine the direction of VUWSA for another year, that suggests to me that people don\’t really care (that\’s 0.7 of 1% of the student population). i\’m guessing a large proportion of that 100 were there eating/drinking too. this might be me but my student loan is going to be pretty big so $120 is not actually going to make that much of a difference. but then again, i\’m not that cheap

  28. Satan says:

    You’ll all be pleased to know that Peter Brock is safely in my domain. Little bastard is racing Gandhi on the V8s.

    Looking forward to meeting you in a few years Mr Edgeler..

  29. Don’t see that happening Mr S…

  30. peteremcc says:

    James,

    “And I didn’t say that VUWSA levy was a tax, I said it was a similar concept.”

    ok so it’s a similar concept. sure.

    NZ General Election 2005 Voter Turnout: 80.9%
    VUWSA SGM 2006 Voter Turnout: 80 odd out of what? 20,000?

    I’d make a guess that a reasonable number of people in New Zealand know what the government is, have a basic idea of what it does and know that they pay taxes to it.

    I’d make a further guess that a large number of Vic Students either don’t know what VUWSA is, don’t know what it does or even that they pay a levy to them every year.

    I wonder how many of those 19,920 people would support a levy increase if they actually knew what it was?

    “For every person in this room today, there are another hundred outside who don’t give a damn and wish you would leave them alone.”

  31. David Radich says:

    Err to Mr Robinson, I do not hate the University for one, otherwise I would not be here. Second of all I would much rather pay more to the University as I KNOW that they can be trusted and responsible with my money. Thirdly the VUWSA staff to an effing brilliant job, its the Exec which needs to sort its crap out. I say again cut out the bullshit!

  32. Jenn says:

    by non partisan i mean non political party member or aligned. yes we both hold political belief, but these aren’t within the boundaries of any political party.

  33. David, you say VUWSA staff do an effing brilliant job, and most of your money ends up in their hands.

  34. Alexa says:

    I always have found Nick O’Kane amusing in a pathetic sort of way. He has a habit of laughing at the most inapproiate times, last semester we were talking about the hunting of Aborigionals in Aussy to which Nick burst out in laughter, to the extent of crying… freak.

    My favorite part is when he begins to talk about how abortion is immoral, I think this it probably a defence mechanism since if I knew I was going to have a O’Kane type of baby, i’d abort it immediately.

  35. Franklin says:

    Alexa – if you were about to have Nick O’Kane version 2.0 as a child, rest a shore that many of us would kill both you and the father, just to be sure.

  36. CC says:

    “I always have found Nick O’Kane amusing in a pathetic sort of way. He has a habit of laughing at the most inapproiate times, last semester we were talking about the hunting of Aborigionals in Aussy to which Nick burst out in laughter, to the extent of crying… ”

    what the FUCK

    For once, words fail me.

  37. Jeremy says:

    I myself believe the best Nick O’Kane moment was when he turned up to a UniQ meeting with leaflets saying homosexuality is wrong.

    I think he may have slightly missed the target demographic for his crusade for moral standards…

  38. Nicholas O'kane says:

    “I myself believe the best Nick O’Kane moment was when he turned up to a UniQ meeting with leaflets saying homosexuality is wrong.” No such incident happened

  39. Jemima says:

    I heard that every time Nick O’Kane laughs, hell opens up.

  40. John says:

    Could anybody please let me know if students rules are still in effect?

  41. John says:

    I didn’t hear anything. I was just reading through this blog and that is it.

  42. Ravenous Ryan says:

    I went to the same school as Nick (St Pats Stream). He used to run around every lunch time with a piiece of string…he would throw it up, catch it, then run off to another location where he would again throw the string around. He was a bit of a ledgend/point of hiliarity for us all. He’s a genius, but my god that boy has issues. Perfect for student politics if you ask me.

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