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March 19, 2007 | by  | in Opinion |
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VUWSA Representation – What?

Following on from my article last week, I wanted to take time to look at the way VUWSA operates. VUWSA is a legally incorporated society. It is required by law to hold regular, public meetings, in accordance with the VUWSA constitution. While these meetings may be to most people boring (unless you love the delightful “eye on exec” features each week in Salient), they are necessary for a transparent organisation. So, for example, these are some of the constitutionally required meetings that VUWSA hold.

Executive meetings:

These are public meetings, held nearly every week in the VUWSA Meeting Room (Ground floor of the Student Union Building). It is expected to be attended by all executive members of VUWSA. Here, executive members report on what they have done in the previous week, approve club grant proposals (that have been initially recommended by the sports and cultural councils, see below), approve budgets, review financial and staff reports, appoint employment panels, VUWSA delegates, election committees. The meetings also set the dates for all of the major meetings and elections. So in essence it’s the big show: the meeting where most of the major decisions are made. Agendas for these meetings are available each Friday from the office at VUWSA Kelburn.

Student Representative Council meetings:

these are held frequently (at least two a trimester), usually either in the Quad or the Mt St Bar and Café. There’s one this Wednesday at 12pm, the topic: “the burden of debt”, as well as electing the numerous student delegates on the University Committees and Boards that allow you as a student a voice in making changes at the highest levels of the University. SRCs (as they are usually known) are required constitutionally, and are held to debate major issues or student import. Watch out for these. Again they are public, and anyone can attend, or even speak (within the rules of the constitution). Any successfully passed motions passed in these meetings, are binding on VUWSA so long as they do not cost VUWSA to implement financially.

Initial General Meetings:

The IGM is held once a year and is also a public meeting. It is where the previous year’s annual report is released, including the (externally) audited financial report for the year. If you want to know about what VUWSA is doing with your levy precisely, you are welcome to attend, and find out more. The meeting also requires the report to be accepted in a motion by those present, otherwise it’s not an ‘official’ document. In the end, it’s about making sure we at VUWSA remain accountable to all of our student members.

Annual General Meetings:

Similar to the IGM, but it is where VUWSA must present a half year financial report. At both the IGM and AGM, no motions of “No confidence” may be placed.

Special General Meetings:

Now here’s fun, a meeting where stuff can get very interesting. These meetings can be called ad-hoc, and debate matters that have been presented by you the students, like constitutional changes or even motions of “no confidence”, as have been attempted throughout the 108 year history of the association. If you have been around long enough, you may have been to a few of them yourself.

Clubs Council Meetings

These are meetings for both Cultural and Sporting Clubs to apply for funding grants. The council will accept club proposals and recommend their approval to the VUWSA Executive.

More details of each of these meetings are in the VUWSA Constitution: you can get a free copy at the VUWSA Kelburn Office, or on the VUWSA website (www.vuwsa.org.nz)

Now, if you made it through this column without either throwing your Salient away, or stabbing the person next to you (or yourself, for that matter), then I guess you are interested in why I wanted to chose to write about this in the first place. I think it’s important to see the process that VUWSA follows to make sure it does not mismanage your levy, and to remain accountable to students. VUWSA should not be a dark and shadowy organisation, where no one knows what its doing; it should not have anything to hide from. It’s what a responsible association should do.

So, now I call on you, as students to not let the opportunity pass, I call on you all, to come to these meetings, hear what VUWSA is doing, and if you think we are going in the wrong direction, to tell us so. If you wish us to remain responsible to you, please let your voice be heard. You can start by coming to our SRC this Wednesday, 12pm at the Mt St Bar and Cafe. Even if they are a little boring at times.

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