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September 8, 2008 | by  | in News |
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Brent, Dusty and Jon Respond:

As you are aware the current VUWSA executive has endorsed a Change Proposal for public consultation. This document has been prepared and delivered by several of those executive members and will potentially effect campus clubs, orientation, Salient, and Uni Games amongst others as well as potential income derived by sponsorship. The following words are a brief response from the potentially effected VUWSA staff as the three roles of Campus Activities Officer, Clubs Development Officer, and Sponsorship and Advertising Manager are being considered for disestablishment.

We fully support the investigation of implementing best business practices at VUWSA and urge you to read the proposal and submit your thoughts. When giving consideration to the Change Proposal please be aware that it was not conducted by professionals and has very little substance as almost all of the identified inefficiencies are not justified by relevant analysis. It is quite simply the endorsed opinion of the current executive. It would be assumed that a competent proposal would consist of a comprehensive analysis of current practice to give an insight as to what inefficiencies exist. With this foundation set, possible plans of action can be identified and thus consultation sort. Unfortunately the current VUWSA Executive do not need such information as their eight months of experience in their current roles supposedly justifies their proposal.

The Change Proposal has the aim of reducing financial risk at VUWSA and again we agree that this is important as VUWSA has a responsibility to you to be financially accountable. Unfortunately this proposal lacks any financial research comparing the cost of the current structure to the proposed model. In addition there is no indication of potential savings or where these savings will be redistributed. Consequently if there is a saving there is uncertainty as to where a proportion of your levy will go in 2009. Can VUWSA justify charging the current levy with a significant reduction in services?

The only fact in the proposal is the overspending of Orientation. The Exec’s solution to this is to cut Clubs and Activities services from VUWSA and deliver them to VUW Management. Instead of managing these vital student services under student governance they would rather gift them to the university. What happened to student control of student money? A further risk to clubs and activities is that once they drop off the University’s list of priorities they are likely to face the same concerns facing Gender, Biology, Education, Film and Theatre studies.

The real problems are closer to home for the Executive but are not insurmountable. Budget blowouts exist because over the decades VUWSA has not developed the processes for accountability. The Executive have been ignoring staff calls for more assessment of policy and procedures at VUWSA. A prime example is the denied request earlier this year for a professional review of clubs and activities as ‘Team Vic’. Let’s fix the problems before relinquishing student control. Let the 2008 student executive be remembered as those that initiated the processes to fix these problems professionally and correctly; NOT be remembered as those that ceded control of the student bar, the recreation centre, the Student Union Building and Radio Active as others in the past.

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About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

Comments (2)

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  1. Unnamed socialist says:

    So much for workers rights, eh Mr. Cosgrove.

  2. debunker says:

    I read this response with alarm, it raises some very serious points, and contains some flagrant inaccuracies.

    “When giving consideration to the Change Proposal please be aware that it was not conducted by professionals and has very little substance as almost all of the identified inefficiencies are not justified by relevant analysis.”

    The change proposal is backed up by countless reviews by professional firms and reports. From BDO Spicers to the massive 2006 Student SPAM survey. All these professional reports and reviews came to the same conclusion. That VUWSA in its current form is unsustainable and changes outlined in the Change Proposal need to be enacted to secure its future. Furthermore professional advice was employed throughout the drafting of the proposal from a consultant who has a student politics background and from lawyers, as well as practical advice from past Presidents.

    “Unfortunately this proposal lacks any financial research comparing the cost of the current structure to the proposed model.”

    This is untrue. Research and costings were carried out in consultation with Alexander Neilson, and the independent auditors who had reviewed all the associations’ financial accounts in 2006 and 2008.

    “Consequently if there is a saving there is uncertainty as to where a proportion of your levy will go in 2009. Can VUWSA justify charging the current levy with a significant reduction in services?”

    Yes it can. There will be no reduction. Services will be improved exponentially. VUWSA’s core business is as education and welfare advocates for students’. These changes will see these get a huge funding boost. Orientations will be run how students have said they wanted them to be, and clubs will have access to more funding. Imagine what the $500K wasted on five years of failed Orientations could have done. You have to remember there are 22000 members and not just the 600 odd who go to Orientation events.

    “The Exec’s solution to this is to cut Clubs and Activities services from VUWSA and deliver them to VUW Management. Instead of managing these vital student services under student governance they would rather gift them to the university. What happened to student control of student money? A further risk to clubs and activities is that once they drop off the University’s list of priorities they are likely to face the same concerns facing Gender, Biology, Education, Film and Theatre studies.”

    This is categorically wrong. Students’ will retain control over clubs and activities. Student governance will be retained under the contracts agreed with VUW and independent agencies’ and through the basic fact that students’ money, through VUWSA, will continue to fund them. Clubs are autonomous agencies anyway, VUWSA has little control over what they can or cannot do. VUWSA only provides grants and it would continue to do so under the proposal. The fact that VUWSA will be in a contractual relationship with the University and still be the sole funder of clubs and activities will mean that they will not face the same concerns course programmes solely administered by the University are.

    “Let’s fix the problems before relinquishing student control. Let the 2008 student executive be remembered as those that initiated the processes to fix these problems professionally and correctly.”

    This is exactly what this change proposal is doing. This proposal is finally acting on what all the professional reviews and audits of VUWSA have told us. We retain student control and guarantee student control for the future. And through what has actually been a professional process, these long standing systemic issues will finally be correctly addressed.

    Its saddening to see VUWSA staff publicly involve themselves in what are essentially student affairs. We all remember the letter that was printed in Salient last year advocating and asking for students not to vote for the A-Team. Here the VUWSA staff are at it again. VUWSA staff are supposed to be the impartial public service of student politics, it’s totally inappropriate for them to be involving themselves in political discourse. It’s understandable that they are concerned about job losses, but they, like students, also have the opportunity to present submissions to the document. I think its important students remember this. And for students to be properly informed, it’s important to debunk some of the myths Dusty, Brent and Jon are scaremongering. Because there’s more than just the future of their jobs on the line. There’s the entire future of VUWSA as your students association on the line as well.

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