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September 22, 2008 | by  | in News |
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VUWSA election campaigning underway

Thomas says competitors are “a joke,”
Freemantle says she is strong competition

Almost immediately following the end of the nomination period in the upcoming VUWSA general elections, two of the candidates for the Association’s presidency have become embroiled in a vicious war of words.

In an email distributed to all the University clubs affiliated with VUWSA, PhD student, Assistant Lecturer of Gender and Women’s Studies and presidential hopeful Jasmine Freemantle declared her opposition to the recently released VUWSA Change Proposal, which, she wrote, “will have a severely negative impact on… clubs.”

Currently, the oversight of all University clubs remains the responsibility of the VUWSAappointed Clubs Development Officer. It was suggested in the Change Proposal that the position be disestablished and the related duties “be undertaken by a negotiated service level between VUWSA and the Student Union [University].”

According to Freemantle, the Change Proposal “wants to give away administration of VUWSA clubs to the University… [that] constantly under-resources student services… [and] tried to scrap programmes in Film and Theatre, and in the Faculty of Education.”

“If [administration of clubs] is given to the University, clubs can be sure they are next.”

Freemantle pointed out that her opponent for the Association’s presidency, current Campaigns Officer Sonny Thomas, was the “unrepentant author of this document.”

Thomas quickly responded, saying that Freemantle had “consistently misrepresented” his views on the issue of clubs funding.

“The Change Proposal I authored will not cut any clubs funding at all,” he said. “In fact, it would make it easier for clubs to operate.”

Despite Thomas’ assertions, his perceived policies in other areas under the administration of VUWSA have prompted the Post-graduate Students’ Association (PGSA) to publicly endorse Freemantle, joining current President Joel Cosgrove with their support of her.

PGSA are currently involved in negotiations with the VUWSA Executive to increase the level of funding that the Association receives. At present, while postgraduate students comprise of almost a fifth of the University population, the Association only receives $48,000 in funding from the total VUWSA budget and $23,000 of this amount pays the salary of the PGSA Executive Assistant.

According to PGSA President Wayne Pihema, Thomas was not open to negotiations. “We found it very difficult to go for an increase. Sonny basically said it isn’t happening, and he was very belligerent in his tactics.”

Pihema added that Thomas had also expressed a willingness to cut funding to Ngai Tauira, the University’s Maori Students’ Association if it became necessary.

“That’s why PGSA are coming out and supporting Jasmine. She is the only viable opponent to Sonny… She is open to negotiations [about funding], she will do her best. I’d much rather work with Jasmine than Sonny in this area.”

When asked about Pihema’s comments, Thomas responded: “I’m not worried about who Wayne votes for. He has been a shortsighted reactionary.”

Regarding the suggestion that he would cut funding to Ngai Tauira, Thomas explained that he had only been referring to Ngai Tauira’s $64,000 surplus, as VUWSA faced a deficit “which has since changed with the re-budget.”

Describing “most” of the other candidates as “a joke,” Thomas expressed his confidence in his campaign for the presidency. “Sean Connors is a joke. William [Wu, current International Officer] is on a student visa and the position is a full-time job.”

“I’m not worried at all by Jasmine,” he said of Freemantle. “Do we want someone backed by Joel? He’s incompetent. The students made a bad choice with him… He can’t shower let alone shave.”

When contacted by Salient, Freemantle said that Thomas was “just completely on the defence.”

Freemantle asserted that she would be a strong competitor against Thomas. “I’m running a strong campaign.”

Cosgrove declined to get into “a slagging match” with Thomas, but pointed out that Thomas had walked out of the exec meeting the previous night following his disagreement over a motion that had been passed. “Throwing his toys… is that strong governance?”

Cosgrove also rejected Thomas’ allegation that he was incompetent. “I negotiated $100,000 compensation for the Unicomm residents and helped save the Film programme and the Gender and Women’s Studies programme. That’s not incompetence.”

“If that’s not success, what’s Sonny’s idea of success? He should step back and look at himself.”

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  1. Heleyni says:

    Sonny it is sad that you have to resort to personal attacks but I guess thats all you have when you are unable to debate actual policy.

    I know Jasmine will show the maturity and excellent leadership that VUWSA needs from it’s President. When on VUWSA she stared the Campus Angels service and has since been elected to numerous community boards and committees, demonstrating that not only is she respected amongst academic staff and students at the university but also as a trusted member of the wider wellington community as well.

    Jasmines experience and competency alone far exceed her opponents which is why her candidacy is seen as a breath of fresh air. She has so much support because people actually believe she’s what the assiciation needs.

  2. I enjoy the use of pictures in this story.

  3. “If that’s not success, what’s Sonny’s idea of success? He should step back and look at himself.”

    Word.

  4. Gibbon says:

    I love it how Joel makes it seem as if he was wholly responsible for everything that happened this year, without mentioning his Exec at all.

  5. cvalda says:

    Just a correction – Change Proposal says “clubs to be administered by VUW under a service level agreement.”

    So it does specify VUW administration, that’s not speculation.

  6. Nick Kelly says:

    I recently posted something to the Sonny Thomas for President facebook page. Sonny rather than engage in a proper debate deleted my post, and that of a current VUWSA exec member.

    I pointed out in this that Sonny Thomas hadn’t submitted a work report to the VUWSA exec in two months. Work reports are required from general exec members each work so they can be held accountable to the student body by listing what work they have done. By failing to submit a work report Sonny Thomas hasn’t accounted for the student money he has been paid.

    Sonny Thomas also walked out of an exec meeting last week when a vote didn’t go his way. This is totally unacceptable for a student representative who should be serviing students to leave an exec meeting without apology.

    Sonny Thomas keeps going on about how Jasmine lost to a vote of no confidence in 2002 when she stood for Welfare Vice President (in Salient he said 2003 so he can’t even get his facts correct)Yet last year he was also defeated at the polls when he stood to council rep – something which happened 12 months rather than 6 years ago.

    Rather than debate me on these points, Sonny deleted my posts. Just like with my open letter Sonny can’t defend his actions and has shown the student body that he is not fit to led VUWSA in 2009.

  7. Heleyni says:

    Who are you Gibbon?

  8. Lenin says:

    “Yet last year he was also defeated at the polls when he stood to council rep – something which happened 12 months rather than 6 years ago.”

    So loosing to no confidence by at least a hundred votes – is comparable to losing by 2 votes to A REAL PERSON.

    lol…You are insane Nick.

  9. Gibbon says:

    Heleyni,
    I’m just a concerned student who believes that people who become too pretentious and precious should be shot down from time to time.
    PS:
    The Truth was excellent – you have a real talent. I look forward to seeing more of your work.

  10. Oliver Went says:

    Even worse, that real person was chris bishop… oh my!

  11. Trotsky says:

    “I pointed out in this that Sonny Thomas hadn’t submitted a work report to the VUWSA exec in two months. Work reports are required from general exec members each work so they can be held accountable to the student body by listing what work they have done. By failing to submit a work report Sonny Thomas hasn’t accounted for the student money he has been paid.”

    Sigh, as Sonny has pointed out else where, he has tabled to the executive at least three different reports on what he has been up to. This included one about his role on the Hardship Committee and possible effects on the food bank and students and one about what is happening to the Law School Crèche. Something more than most of the executive have done.

    “Sonny Thomas also walked out of an exec meeting last week when a vote didn’t go his way. This is totally unacceptable for a student representative who should be serving students to leave an exec meeting without apology.”

    This is wrong Nick and you know it. Sonny left the meeting before that so called ‘vote he lost’ was even put, as DebSoc invited him to speak at their meeting. He made it quite clear he had to go and gave his apologies before he left.

    “Sonny Thomas keeps going on about how Jasmine lost to a vote of no confidence in 2002 when she stood for Welfare Vice President (in Salient he said 2003 so he can’t even get his facts correct)Yet last year he was also defeated at the polls when he stood to council rep – something which happened 12 months rather than 6 years ago.”

    Yeah word to the real communist above me – I believe in that election there were four people running, and the lowest polling candidate got near 500 votes, the third just over 500 while Sonny and Chris Bishop got 700+ and were separated by 2 votes – hardly a vote of no confidence in Sonny. Hardly as scandalous as the students’ vote of no confidence in Jasmine in 2003. A election she lost to two inanimate words.

    Your whinging is getting old two years after you were voted out of VUWSA. Find a new hobby.

  12. Lenin says:

    holy shit.

    Burrrrnnn.

  13. Mr Magoo says:

    Zing! Commies burning commies. Now THIS is entertainment.

  14. Joel Cosgrove says:

    //Sigh, as Sonny has pointed out else where, he has tabled to the executive at least three different reports on what he has been up to. This included one about his role on the Hardship Committee and possible effects on the food bank and students and one about what is happening to the Law School Crèche. Something more than most of the executive have done.//

    Come off it, those reports are for hardship which Sonny does 1 hour a week and the creche which accounts for maybe a few hours over the last few months. But we wouldn’t know because Sonny hasn’t put in a report. The foodbank one was a page. Creche another page, where’s the rest of his time, I don’t know…

    //This is wrong Nick and you know it. Sonny left the meeting before that so called ‘vote he lost’ was even put, as DebSoc invited him to speak at their meeting. He made it quite clear he had to go and gave his apologies before he left.//

    Sonny left when I put down my motion withdrawing him as a voting member of the change proposal committee. He yelled out that it was a joke and then stormed off. he knew what was coming and left before the vote happen prefering to campaign than complete his duties as an Exec member, i was voted off because of similar concerns about potential perceived conflict of interest. Yet I didn’t throw my toys, I stayed and carried on. Seamus stayed and he’s campaigning.
    Sonny then came back later that night and verbally abused me to the extent that Sam Oldham thought Sonny was going to hit me. He called the Exec members on the panel retards or alledged that they were in the pocket of Jasmine. He’s that paranoid.

  15. Gibbon says:

    Joel
    Why are you airing your dirty socks in public?
    Just put it away.

  16. Lenin says:

    the desperate words of a desperate man.

  17. Caity says:

    I find it funny that Sonny is the one being called agressive etc by Joel for these alleged attacks, yet he’s not bad-mouthing Jasmine as openly as he is being bad-mouthed.

  18. Chuck Hagel says:

    Yeah, Sonny lost to a tory. That’s totally worse than losing to an artifical construct.

  19. Chris says:

    I’m not a Tory.

  20. Chewie says:

    You work for the National Party Research Office Chris.

  21. ewlabourhack says:

    Yeah, filthy Tory. Party vote Labour!

  22. Meowmeow says:

    I hate all that are youthful and overly political

  23. Chris says:

    Indeed I do. Sadly for you, that doesn’t make me a Tory.

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