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September 17, 2007 | by  | in Opinion |
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Editorial

Wandering through the university you may have noticed the writing is on the wall…floor and web. Yes, those posters and counter posters and chalked walkways mean that campaigning for the VUWSA elections has begun. Voting starts this Friday, and while about 5 per cent of you vote, I reckon the issues raised in the current debate are of greater significance than they have been before. That’s because next year’s executive are going to make decisions that will have long reaching consequences. I’m talking about the cover story of Salient Five: The Campus Hub Project.

Next year the exec will liaise with Victoria University and the Union to determine how best to spend the proposed total cost of $60 million for redeveloping the Quad area. The exec through the VUWSA trust will contribute over $10 million towards the project. In this regard, the ability to work as a unified team and to integrate with the university bureaucracy will be essential.

Successful development of the hub project therefore favours candidates with institutional knowledge of Victoria’s culture. When I asked the University Council candidate from the A-Team, Jordan Williams, what he thought of the Campus Hub project, he didn’t know what it was. I am concerned that this naivety is not isolated, with the A-Team unaware of some of the implications of their policies. These include possible staff redundancies, a result of the notion of removing all affiliation and funding for clubs. This will undoubtedly also lead to payouts, which may end up being considerable due to redundancy payout requirements in the collective agreement.

Perhaps more of a concern to me is the ideological underbelly of the A-Team. There is no doubt in my mind that they are silent proponents of Voluntary Student Membership, with close ties to the far right. If you consider what happened at Waikato University after they changed from compulsory membership to voluntary, then our association may find themselves in a situation where they can’t perform even basic functions.

That’s exactly what happened at Waikato University in 1999, three years after they become voluntary. With only 124 members, Waikato Students’ Union had been reduced to nothing more than a small club. Compulsory membership resumed in 2000 after 80 per cent of students voted ‘yes’ to a referendum asking whether membership should become compulsory again.

The A-Team also extinguish my romantic and perhaps also naïve vision for student politics- that as a watchdog over the powerful and often unchallenged forces in our lives. Next year’s students will still be living in a country where we have some of the most extreme flatting costs in the world, where we have enormous student debts and where our government hardly seems to care. Do we want to be represented by people who challenge this or who are complicit in the increasing dictation of market forces? After all, the A-Team state on their website that “the A-Team is committed to an a-political VUWSA.”

There are further concerns with this non-stance. How, for instance, will the executive be able to have a relationship with NZUSA, the overtly national lobby for students’ associations? Just a few days ago the A-Team stated that they are going to review their membership with NZUSA, indicating a possible relationship. This is a marked departure from their statement last week that they would immediately quit ties with NZUSA. Further, the exec will be called to consult with Victoria University as student representatives for the implementation of the TEC initiative, which begins next year. And do we really want a student body which says nothing in an election year?

Non-representation extends to students on an individual level too, with significant changes to the advocacy role of paid VUWSA staff members.

These are of course just my opinions and hopefully this issue allows you to judge the issues surrounding this election for yourself. Our cover story compares the policies of the three presidential candidates nominated and the foldout centerfold on page 32 contains information about each candidate the way they want to describe themselves. The pullout section contains important information about voting times and booth locations. Also check out SalientTV for campaign profiles and election highlights as they come to hand. Happy voting,

Steve

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Comments (19)

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  1. No Confidence says:

    Steve

    Could you add “no confidence” to the Salient President’s Poll please?

    Thanks

  2. No Confidence is only an option when the same amount of people are running for the number of positions offered (i.e. only one person is running for President). Since there are three candidates, there will be no No Confidence option in the election.

  3. No Confidence says:

    You’re kidding. That’s not usual is it?

    What if you’ve got no confidence in the Drunk, the Muppet or the Act Party Puppet?

    I bet no confidence would get at least a couple of hundred votes.

  4. peteremcc says:

    Yes that’s usual, No Confidence.

  5. Terry Teo says:

    Laura is right. If you don’t agree with any of the candidates standing, then you can abstain, simple as that.

  6. No Confidence says:

    There’s a huge difference between no confidence and not voting.

  7. Terry Teo says:

    I agree with you 100%. But currently, this is how it’s set within “the constitution”…

  8. blogette says:

    its the same in national elections, get over it

  9. peteremcc says:

    Yes but national elections generally get more than 5% turnout!

  10. No Confidence says:

    Maybe Salient could include no confidence on their poll just to see how popular it is.

    blogette – you’re a dick

  11. Nick Archer says:

    No Confidence, no point as there is NO ‘No Confidence’ option on the ballot paper, change the constitution if you want it to be otherwise…

  12. B-Team says:

    Hey Steve, while telling us why we shouldn’t vote for the A-Team, you should probably point out that you’re mates with Joel Cosgrove and that the new President will be the Salient editor’s boss. Hmmm…

  13. DS says:

    Gutter Journalism. More speculation than a sub-prime market. It might pay to add, for instance, that the ‘80%’ vote at Waikato happened in summer school when there were practically no students there to vote.

    The rest of your assertions have been answered by Lukas in the interview, had you not seen that when you put your editorial to print? He has said compulsory is not an issue this election and not staff cuts are necessary in their fully prepared budget.

    Have you read that budget, would you give them credit for producing it?

    The sad thing is that your attempt to help your mates running against the A-Team with this one sided polemic is so transparent it’ll be unlikely to influence anyone beyond the small group of tribal voters who have already made up their minds.

    Good luck with your future of balanced journalism. Not.

  14. Jasmine says:

    Finally some one who isnt blinded by the flash and glamour of the so called A-Team. Im glad that you’ve headbutted this issue with your editorial. Above comments referring to your bias are particularly irrelevant- What is the media if it isn’t a vehicle with which to drive public opinion? I would hope that the voters arent persuaded by your article, that they can decide independently that the A team spells disaster. However, if your article helps keep these gimps out of power, then kudos to you.

  15. peteremcc says:

    “What is the media if it isn’t a vehicle with which to drive public opinion?”

    I dunno, they could try reporting the NEWS!

  16. Bionic Master says:

    Steve you fuckup, I bet there are many letters you’re not publishing because you fear the consequences. I know you refused to publish a friend of mine’s because it was “slander”. Free-speech for all…but yeah fuck the A-team.

  17. Evene says:

    Bleagh… even without your political bias you are a terrible writer

  18. Random says:

    No confidence is standard in other associations regardless of how many people are running for the position, for the simple reason that you may feel that non of the candidates are good enough and I would say that national elections should have the option as well. its a great indicator to inform associations of how many people are displeased about the quality of candidates that run.
    Also as many people have said around the country VUWSA is staring down the barrel of loosing any CSM/VSM referendum.
    About the article, while giving facts out is good journalism on issues, expressing opinions is not, and it would be better for you to just state the facts and let them damn those you are against. By writing a biased article filled with opinions you are just making your argument weaker to those who don’t share your opinions therefore making the point you are trying to get across much easier to deflect.

  19. I designed this as a pamphlet the A-Team could have put out.

    VOTE THE MUPPET TEAM
    FOR VUWSA EXEC 2008

    Starring Geoff Hayward, Joel Cosgrove, Paul Brown, Melissa Barnard, Alexander Neilson, Rachael Wright & Bernard Galaxy

    Same tired old faces, Same failed old policies

    Standing for:
    • Placing the University Games shield on trade me
    • Laying Communist wreaths at ANZAC Day
    • Grafting on the $250 000 VUWSA art collection
    • Personal attacks and bickering amongst ourselves
    • We support 21% fee increases (only if its our fees that are going up, and not the university ones)

    You can find us licking urine of a street near you

    Call us on the psychic hotline 0800 $6000

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