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July 6, 2008 | by  | in Online Only |
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NZUSA Update: 3 (Moderate and spurious scandal inside)

The final day of the NZUSA has begun, and im currently blogging from the floor of the lecture theatre where the open plenary session is being held. The session is where executives from the various universities pass motions and set direction for NZUSA in the coming year. It’s usually a shit fight, and a political fracas. Joel just suggested that NZUSA start a singing band to promote student issues. /facepalm.

However, more scandal has erupted. Yesterday a workshop was held that brought together the result of the womens and mens confrence. According to VUWSA Queer rep Racheal Wright the meeting was hijacked by the patriachy. A mens network was suggested to promote and identify ‘men’s issues’. The network is being supported by Joel Cosgrove (VUWSA) and Ryan Ward (OPSA). According to Wright, the network subverts the initiatives already in place that promote gender equality and also increases the intimidation and oppression of queer and women. When she raised this issue at the VUWSA caucus meeting this morning, she was told by Joel Cosgrove to ‘fuck off’.

In response she has threatened to resign from office. That’s the last thing VUWSA needs right now, a fucking by-election.


I have had a chance to talk with Joel and hear his side of the story. His support for the new ‘reactionary’ (as it has been termed by its detractors) men’s network was that; although he recognised that sexist, and homophobic attitudes may still be prevalent in student representation, it was important for that to be discussed openly in a national forum. This argument holds some weight, men’s issues should not be buried away and forgotten about. However, by allowing a forum in a national union (of which ordinary students all over New Zealand financially buttress) to legitimise sexism, and homophobia then NZUSA runs the risk of subverting the issues it is trying to solve.

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About the Author ()

Conrad is a very grumpy boy. When he was little he had a curl in the middle of his forehead. When he was good, he was moderately good, but when he was mean he was HORRID. He likes guns, bombs and shooting doves. He can often be found reading books about Mussolini and tank warfare. His greatest dream is to invent an eighteen foot high mechanical spider, which has an antimatter lazer attached to its back.

Comments (15)

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  1. Setting up alternative men’s networks every time a we see a women’s group and feel marginalised is hardly a productive step. Rather, since the wro network is actually intended to focus on issues of gender equality, instead of creating a segregated men’s group, wouldn’t the ideal be to work towards making the current network more inclusive?

  2. Naly D says:

    Tristan, if you had been at the Mens conference you would have realised that was the exact intention of the MEN’s network.

  3. Shitkicker McGee says:

    And men aren’t allowed to talk at the Women’s conference, even if they’re the WRO. Once again, shitocracy gets in the way of progress at NZUSA.

  4. Naly D says:

    Thats the men who even bother to turn up.
    Interesting that those guys going ‘what is the point of having a mens group?’ at closing plenary felt it wasn’t worth their time going to mens conference.

  5. Naly – While I wasn’t able to attend the conference, this doesn’t disqualify me from relaying the concerns of friends and colleagues who did attend the three gender focus groups. Their concern is that the segregation of men’s issues discussions away from current forums is counterproductive. Does this mean that those advocating this separation are homophobic and sexist? No, of course it doesn’t. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a good idea, either.

    I guess what this all goes to show is a divisiveness in national student politics. I feel kinda dirty because I know that even contributing to this discussion means I am contributing to this division. But hey.

  6. Naly D says:

    Tristan, the direct idea behind MEN was to help females and queer (if this reads as patronising believe me, it wasn’t intended to be) with their campaigns and issues as a united front, while having an avenue to discuss and campaign our own issues (such as the low retention and pass rates of males in university) on the public front.

    Far from promoting segregation, MEN was intended to include ‘anybody who identified as being a male’ be they male, gay, transgender, lesbian, intersex or tomboy. It was also made quite clear to everybody at the mens conference that females were welcome to be on the group. Joel had chaired the meeting and Ryan was somewhat of a leader in the concept, as such it was felt by a number of men that they were best to represent us in the joint outcomes session. In 4 hours we had come up with a mission statement, a vision, short and long term goals, a basic structure and two campaigns we wished to promote. M*A*S*H and Thursdays in Black.

    Interesting that it was seen as promoting mens oppression of women and encouraging the divide, when after mens conference I sat outside the womens room with 6 other men, having been advised not to enter or I’d be in some serious trouble – when all I wanted to do was drop off some keys. Yet these same women who had no issue with joining the mens dinner later that night were staunchly against the idea of MEN. Look, its all cool if you lot want your own little exclusive club, but thats not what ours was at all.

  7. miss-pelld says:

    A simple matter of making group where men could have a similar forum to women has been turned into something pathetic by women who need counselling. I have never been so disgusted in my life with a women. Lets just say for someone who is a Queer rep she has some very twisted views that are not shared by the majority. For example she went so far as to insult and upset majority of a workshop when she announced at 70% of all men are rapists. I must say, I have been abused but I do not share that statement and do not feel the need to punish innocent people because of my own misfortunes. People like this VWUSA Queer rep are the people responsible for starting hate crimes in this world. Enough is enough… go and get some bloody counselling girl!

  8. Jesus Toblerone says:

    I’ve been to an NZUSA men’s conference before. It was a complete waste of time and my association’s money. It really disillusioned me about the whole process really. I’m sure the women’s conference is fine- I guess hopefully there will eventually come a time when it is not needed but that’s not now. I really just felt that the only reason some people were wanting men’s conference was to be equal to the women.

    In isolation the topics covered are probably all important but I don’t really see why student politicians needed to meet about it. Most of the more relevant issues we discussed would be better handled by student health.

  9. Ryan Ward says:

    Jesus is right (as he would be lol) Mens conference in the past has been a waste of time and we can all testify to that.
    The Point on the new MEN’s group is to change that. the last two mens conference have been productive but more work is needed before it will actually function properly.
    As for the comments about womens conference, it wouldn’t be right if myself as an apparent sexist homophobic agreed with such comments…

  10. Rachael Wright says:

    miss-pelld: Thank you for making assumptions about my mental state, and what I have and have not done to recover from sexual abuse that I may or may not have experienced. I’m not gonna put myself through the trauma of rising to yr accusations and disclosing my history of abuse. Stop using a fucking pseudonym whilst being incredibly confrontational and agressive with yr accusations of mental health issues, yes?

    Also, perhaps you should stop grossly misquoting me. I did not say that 70 percent of men were rapists. I said that a study done with college students in the states revealed that a HUGE number, yes, a majority even, of male students said that if they could rape a woman and be guaranteed not to face repercussions, they would.

    So don’t twist what I said, and DO NOT portray me as some anti-feminist charicature of a hysterical rape victim. My mental health status does not affect my political belief that if these men were genuine about furthering gender equality, they would not try to set up their own power-gaining initiatives, but would instead be more supportive of existing (female-directed) initiatives. Or they’d at least make sure their conference wasn’t alienating to queer men. H

  11. Ryan Ward says:

    Umm rachael, you actually did say 70 percent of men would rape someone if indeed they could get away with it, funnily enough im still waiting on the stats to back that up.

    Also, if our conference was alienating queer men how is it that the mens conference delegates that are queer failed to bring that up. Were all about equallity here, but it seems that nobody else is. I mean serioulsy 2 third womens issues and 1 third mens issues being a policy in a ‘Joint Outcomes Session’ does seem a tad unequal dont you think??

    But good stuff on putting mis-pelled back in her place about your mental state. this is neither the time nor place for personal attacks. Big ups Rach

  12. Gibbon says:

    why don’t you go back to wherever you came from ryan, you’re boring me now

  13. diddums says:


    who gives a flying fuck if you are bored gibbon?

    as the name says diddums to you….poor wee baby gibbons is bored…someone get them a baby bottle and probably needs a nappy change as welll the poor poor wee baby……

  14. Freya Eng says:

    “I mean serioulsy 2 third womens issues and 1 third mens issues being a policy in a ‘Joint Outcomes Session’ does seem a tad unequal dont you think??”

    Ryan, obviously you’re not very well read in this area, so I’ll make it clear and easy to understand for you. Until equality is achieved (it isn’t by the way, in case you were wondering) for women there will naturally and logically be an emphasis on women’s issues. It’s pretty simple.

    Omfgeeh post-feminism is soooo 1997.

  15. Rachael says:

    And, Ryan, if a space is not a safe space, you can hardly be surprised if people do not feel supported enough to bring that up.
    For example, look at all the backlash saying what my feelings were has bought. God forbid any queer males have to bring this up and risk also being marked as one of the people who causes hate crimes in the world, huh?

    The thing about alienating people, Ryan, is that most of the time people are unaware of the subtle discrimination they perpetuate. Perhaps if you really want to include and support oppressed groups, you should consult with them about what they want before you attempt to set anything up, or take any of NZUSA’s money to help facilitate a group for the oppressors.

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