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May 5, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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Cash Cows and Chinese Flags

With the news that International fees are set to rise two per cent, it’s time to consider where International students fit in to this university. If you turn to the central pages of this week’s Salient, you’ll see an illustration of student loyalties: the green hoodies of Team Vic, who conquered Uni Games, and the myriad of red Chinese flags at a pro-Olympics Rally organised by CSAVUW, the Chinese Students’ Association.

On 26 April, around 700 young Chinese people marched from Pipitea campus to the Civic Square. Although VUWSA International Officer and CSAVUW leader William Wu only began organising the rally a week ago, the solidarity between Chinese students, and their organizational abilities, put every other VUW students’ protest I’ve attended to shame. Furthermore, while the march could easily have gotten away with taking over Wellington’s roads, its leaders confined it to the pavement – so not only was this rally weirdly wellorganised, it was also stunningly polite.

William Wu, who used his Chinese name Jun Feng Wu when talking with the mainstream media (in order to distance his leadership of the march from his work with VUWSA), told Salient and that the rally was supposed to be non-political: they were not arguing that China should rule Tibet, rather they were arguing that the Olympics should be about friendship, not politics. However, this message became confused, because a large number of marchers held “One China” banners, such as “China: 56 ethnicities, one family.” As William said, they were hardly going to stop people on the march from expressing their opinions. But it is worth noting that when some marchers raised the chant “One China! One family!” almost everyone joined in, so describing this as a nonpolitical protest is not entirely accurate.

The chant “Welcome to Beijing! Welcome to China!” was often followed up with “New Zealand people are awesome,” and the young Chinese marchers waved a few New Zealand flags alongside their red Chinese ones. So, while we shouldn’t forget what’s happening in Tibet, we need to remember both that these guys are not the enemy, and that we do a pretty shit job of including them in our university culture. International students of course do not receive loans or allowances, and while many are well-supported by parents, others have to work. The fact that student visas restrict how much they can work, coupled with language difficulties, leave them vulnerable to employers offering below-wage work. According to our letter of the week, international students feel like cash cows: the university is happy to take their money, but many come to New Zealand without any friends, feeling lonely and cut off from the English-speakers around them. Though if international students want clubs that reflect their interests, then, just like everyone else, they have to organize them themselves – and we do have strong Chinese and Malaysian societies.

Nevertheless, I can’t help feel we could be a bit less arrogant: we expect Chinese people who come to Aotearoa to speak English, yet most Kiwis who go to China cannot speak Mandarin. Having said that, I actually have no idea how we can become more inclusive; if you have any ideas, send us a letter.

Letter of the Week

Opinion on VUW from an International student.

Hey guys,

I am a international student have been studying at vic for the past 2 years.

I just completed a survey from Victoria Internatinal about my study and life experiences here. It’s pretty much all positive experiences. But there were a few things I wanted to say. Here my response to the survey on the question:

You said you would neither encourage nor discourage to other people to enrol into VUW. Can you explain why?

“Depending on the carreer chosen (law, commerce and many others I’m sure), Victoria University is more of a lucrative business than an academic institution: international fees five times higher, most expensive internet in town, expensive food and uni related stuff (uni stop, vicbooks), $15 for an official A4 transcript, $5 for any other one, $35 for a lost office key, pay if your swipe card is broken or lost, fees continuously on the rise whereas no apparent benefit to the student’s life is seen, possible closure of schools and careers that are not of considerable lucrative nature and amplification of those which are (law, commerce, managment). I’m shocked by certain aspects in which VUW is managed. “

Chur. Frenchy

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About the Author ()

Tristan Egarr edited in 2008. He threw a chair once.

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