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March 24, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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Presidents’ Column 26 March 08

Free internet and printing? I’ve been getting hassled by a couple of angry politicos about it. “Where’s my free internet and printing Joel? Huh? You’re a fucking liar, you fucking liar”. The level of discussion ends about there, usually. Having said that, there are also some real people out there asking me about it too. Cause those people I’m talking to are having a hard time as it is, and something small like free internet would make a difference. Accommodation, food, text books, travel; it all adds up. While at the same time Vic Uni charges what appears to be the most expensive internet in the country (100 dollars a gigabyte). That makes you think…

Auckland University recently brought in free internet, Stuart McCutcheon (the Auckland Vice-Chancellor) is way more of a principled student hating arsehole than anyone at Vic Uni. So we have Otago, Massey (there are three of them) and Auckland Unis’ giving free or levied internet. Obviously nothing is ever free, but the key difference is a flat levy or no levy at all over internet charged by the megabyte. I know what I’d prefer and it’s not 100 bucks a gig.

The crazy thing is that School of Computing Science already have free internet covered in their course fees. Apparently they have a decent network as well. So this isn’t about other universities (or polytechs), it’s just a cynical withholding of what most other students around the country take for granted. ITS (computing services) know that this is a sore point amongst you. If you’re pissed off enough to do something about it, email me. Or email Stuart Haselden (stuart.haselden@vuw.ac.nz). He’s the head of ITS, he knows there’s a problem and the more people who hassle him the more aware he is that everyone else thinks it’s a problem too.

I’m over in Australia at the moment, looking at the effects of Voluntary Student Unionism and its effects on students and Students’ Associations. I took part in a combined Melbourne student protest yesterday i.e. last Wednesday about the issue. At Monash for instance the SA there had to cut its budget by 40% and that cost plus some is organized by the Uni (Monash in this instance). What’s insane in the Australian example is that the University has had to cut academic funding to cover nonacademic services, because the Students Association provides what the university and students consider to be essential services, i.e. advocacy and social organising, that are best provided by students for students. That’s why the Uni doesn’t take up those services and that’s why Vic wouldn’t take them up here.

I know that students are opposed to this, 75% voted against it in ‘99 because they saw what getting rid of the student association means. No organised body to fight the film school closure, no one to start and build an organised movement against user pays internet charges and no independent body to advocate on behalf of students when the Uni fucks up. Last year 1800 students supported the students association and 500 backed the right wing alternative. The excuse given by the right is that everyone who didn’t vote, backed them…

In Australia costs are edging towards $100,000 all up for subjects like nursing and there are strong calls for an American model to be installed. This involves no subsidisation and forces families to begin saving for tertiary education before prospective students are even born. So when anyone talks about a “Harvard of the South”- and that hasn’t been heard at Vic in at least a decade- this is what they mean.

And just before I sign off and go buy some 49 cent noodles to eat. Big ups to the Film School students (literally) telling VUW management to “Fuck off”. The whole film school process seems to have degenerated to that level. There is really no reason apart from the big middle finger to students that the university would do this and keep doing it when students and staff have so far overwhelmingly opposed the idea. If this isn’t being done in the best interests of students or staff then who is it for? It’s not in the interests of creative culture in New Zealand that’s for sure, what with Canterbury about to close theirs. Maybe someone in Senior Management Team failed FILM 101? It’s getting to that level.

P.S. I’m writing on a laptop and the mouse keeps skittering around the screen, it’s really slowed down the composition of my column and really pisses me off. If anyone could email me suggestions I’d really appreciate it, I’ll gaffer your shoes in return or something like that…

P.P.S Don’t think I forgot free printing, I didn’t.

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Comments (6)

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  1. C3P0 says:

    Joel is in Australia on a fact finding mission for VUWSA? Who is paying for this trip Joel or VUWSA? If it is VUWSA who approved it and when? If Joel wants to investigate VSM why does he not take a trip to Auckland Uni it would be a hell of a lot cheaper.

  2. Chris says:

    What utter crap. Joel doesn’t know shit about the American model. American state universities – publicly funded – are some of the best in the world (think any university with “State” in the title – such as Penn State University, Montana State, etc). Such universities compete with extremely well funded private institutions like Yale, Harvard etc. Such diversity and competition has resulted in a plethora of excellent universities, specialising in various things.

    Joel’s comment that “This involves no subsidisation and forces families to begin saving for tertiary education before prospective students are even born” is utter rubbish. I can’t remeber the stats but a huge percentage of students at places like Harvard, Yale etc don’t pay full fees – a lot are on full scholarships. Fees at State universities are quite low. And there is a federal student loans scheme accessible.

  3. You suck! says:

    Fuck you!

  4. R2D2 says:

    Bleep bloop!

  5. R2D2 says:

    Bloop bleep!

  6. R2D2 says:

    Bleep bloop bloop bleep!

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