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September 17, 2007 | by  | in News |
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Election likely to come down to clubs after zero-funding proposal

A plan to scrap funding to clubs and rep groups will be the deciding factor in this year’s VUWSA elections, following an announcement by right-wing ticket the A-Team that all students should not subsidise the minority who take part in clubs.

In an email to clubs last week, the A-Team wrote “The A-Team will reduce clubs funding to zero. This means that the cultural and sports councils will no longer allocate funding to clubs.”

The email also says “The A-Team likes clubs. However, we feel it is not fair that all students are subsidising clubs, given that most are not members.”

The group said “your club will no longer have to affiliate with VUWSA, or to apply to it for funding.”

As part of their election manifesto, the A-Team is promising full-time students a $25 refund of their annual $120 VUWSA levy. The group says they will encourage students to give their promised $25 refund to the club of their choice, which they believe will mean clubs are able to stay afloat.

However, newer posters from the group have small print reading that the refund is “subject to necessary constitutional changes”. This would require the support of a two-thirds majority of at least 100 students to pass.

Current Clubs Officer Melissa Barnard says it is “preposterous to think that taking away club funding will not have a hugely negative impact on clubs. Moreover the measures mitigating these negative impacts are an absolute joke.”

The A-Team also said: “Because the Clubs Officer will no longer be bogged down in VUWSA-affiliation bureaucracy they will be able to fully support and advocate for your club to get outside funding.”

Barnard disagrees with the group’s claim, saying “As Clubs Officer I feel that the VUWSA exec takes financial accountability seriously when it comes to giving money to clubs. This ensures that students benefit from money given to them by VUWSA.

“The affiliation process is essential for VUWSA to determine the legitimacy of a club and ensures that the club adheres to their constitution, has transparent financial records and provides for the best interests of their members.”

VUWSA Clubs Development Officer Brent Hayward believes the zero-funding policy and end of club affiliations would endanger many clubs, inhibit their ability to interact with and compete against other clubs, and mean that fewer students were able to participate in clubs, due to the discontinuation of subsidization.

“Student association exists to maximise the opportunity for our students to participate in activity outside of study including sporting, cultural, and social activities. Consequently I believe club grants to be integral to the continued growth and performance of our clubs on campus.”

Hayward says without affiliations, clubs will be less transparent and VUWSA will not be able to see if they are following their approved constitutions.

Clubs would lose out on benefits such as VUWSA funding, fundraising opportunities, discounted printing, discounted van hire, and promotion.

”If the affiliation process was discontinued there would be no ability for VUWSA to determine whether a club was legitimate or not. Therefore any resources offered by VUWSA, the Student Union, or the VUW Rec Centre would be very difficult to coordinate as they would be available to any club, group, or even company,” says Hayward.

“If VUWSA was to decide to withdraw resources for clubs, the dilemma associated with the removal of club grants would be intensified ten fold.”

Hayward says ending affiliations would make it near-impossible to network with clubs, and to organise competitors for events such as the Uni Games. A lack of funding to clubs would make it harder for students to afford to participate.

“If VUWSA was to cease clubs and/or financial assistance it is likely that the infrastructure will fall apart and with it the performance at a higher level.”

Hayward also points out that “if affiliation was to discontinue, all club funds and assets would be [seized] by VUWSA to dispose of at its absolute discretion in accordance with the VUWSA Constitution.”

VUWSA-affiliated clubs currently hold assets worth $1,140,990.60 and $31,775.62 cash, at time of press, according to Hayward’s calculations.

One inside source who believes the group’s stance is a major problem says “their message to clubs outlining the ‘benefits’ of cutting all their funding was atrocious.”

“For starters it didn’t even mention the fact that their draft budget cuts every dollar of clubs funding – pretty dishonest, when you’re emailing every club. It claimed that clubs would be better off by every individual student getting a $25 refund – which doesn’t make any sense.

“The clubs/rep group issue was always going to be their biggest problem – if VUWSA does anything well, it’s distributing clubs money to those who need it – they needed to write a compelling letter that was reassuring, rather than raising more questions than it answered.”

Salient understands both other Presidential candidates – current President Geoff Hayward and Education Vice President Joel Cosgrove – are also in contact with clubs and rep groups. However, their dialogue with the groups is regarding continuing clubs funding.

In an email to clubs, Cosgrove wrote: “Clubs are the lifeblood of VUWSA and the university. In the current campaign other candidates are threatening to cut all funding and support for clubs by VUWSA.” Cosgrove says he is a member and supporter of clubs, and wants to “build on the status quo”.

Geoff Hayward’s approach has been reassuring clubs that if re-elected, he will campaign for a rise, rather than a drop, in funding: “Last year, I campaigned for financial responsibility. And this year, we have tightened our belts. The problem is that some groups, notably clubs and Rep Groups, have been hamstrung. The solution to supporting these groups is not less money, it is more money. A vote for me will see a focus on supporting these important groups in the 2008 VUWSA budget.”

Geoff Hayward encouraged all club members to vote, regardless of who they vote for, but said: “Don’t throw your chance away to support your club’s future.”

Other budget cuts will include zero funding for rep groups, activities, snow games and re-orientation. No pay rises have been budgeted for, and the futures of the permanent staff positions of Clubs Development Officer and Activities Coordinator are uncertain.

The Campaigns, Environmental, International, Queer, Women’s and Welfare budgets would be combined as a ‘consolidated pool’, with total funding of $1500 for all six. The Welfare budget alone is currently over $20,000 and includes the food bank.

Welfare Vice President candidate Anna Duggan has said if elected, she will help students get food, clothes and other benefits from other organizations and ministries; however, some have argued that this will further overload such organizations and deplete their resources.

The A-Team’s budget also shows a total of $0.00 for VUWSA’s annual 10 percent contribution to Ngai Tauira, whilst still receiving nearly $50,000 in income from NT – something which VUWSA Treasurer Alexander Neilson says is a breach of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two associations.

Shroeter told Salient that the $0.00 was “a fuck-up on our website” and that he is unsure how the error made it into the document. He says the A-Team has no intention of breaching the MOU.

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About the Author ()

With her take-no-prisoners, kick-ass attitude, former News Editor Laura McQuillan adequately makes up for her lack of stature. Roaming the corridors (and underground tunnels) of the University by day, and hunting vampires and Nazi war criminals by night, McQuillan will stop at nothing to bring you the freshest news.

Comments (6)

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  1. peteremcc says:

    I can confirm that the $0.00 for NT was simply an error.
    That has now been fixed on the website without any other changes to the budget (ie: the amount to be paid to NT WAS included in all the totals etc).

    There is an MoU and the A-Team couldn’t break it even if they wanted to.

  2. bloggete says:

    well they could just renegottae it

    given neither side of NT and VUWSA currently keep ot it anyway that shouldn’t be too hard

  3. bloggete says:

    well they could just renegottae it

    given neither side of NT and VUWSA currently keep ot it anyway that shouldn’t be too hard

  4. No Confidence says:

    MOUs aren’t legally binding are they?

  5. heres a fact every voter this election should know (and I feel I have a moral duty to say this, and this is something Salient should have said)

    current VUWSA Clubs funding= $88 000 (this is only the Grant pool and does not include snow games, uni games, or club council meetings, which the A Team will cut, or clubs administration, team Vic sponsorship, Student Union Building contributions ,which the A-Team don’t plan to cut)

    3500 (total current Club membership) times $25 (A-Team refund they encourage you to give to your favourite club)= $87 500.

    In other words, if the A-Team get in and every club member gives their $25 to their favourite club, Clubs would end up very slightly worse of than they are now overall. The impact would of course vary largely from club to club. And, not many students are likely to give the $25 to their favourite club. These figures show the truth behind the A-Team propaganda that they are best for clubs.

  6. Jonno, there is nothing in the VUWSA constitution that prohibits the Executive refunding $25 to every students, there are legal issues surounding the Incorporated Societies Act 1908, but my opinion is that it can still be done legally. As for the Clubs affiliation, no new paperwork will be created by its abolition, but there will be issues surounding the use of clubs under the JSUB agreement with the university. As the A-Team plan to fund the refund by cutting spending, and out of the new surplus created, it can (as long as the A-Team is in power) give the $25 refund every year.

    mike-I wasn’t involved in the poll riging, and don’t know who was.

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