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March 9, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Eye on the Exec

Last week’s exec meeting was held jointly with Ngai Tauira (NT) in a bid to honour a Memorandum of Understanding signed recently between the two bodies. President Jasmine Freemantle described the first of four meetings as both “productive and constructive”, with all present politely behaving, despite only two members of the NT executive being able to attend.

The relationship between VUWSA and NT has been uneasy in the past, but Freemantle has vowed to change this in 2009, saying NT’s inclusion in the democratic process was the first “step in the right direction”.

Historically, NT has sought to be the sole representative for Maori students on campus. Legally there may only be one students’ association, and VUWSA holds this monopoly. It is the issue of funding that has created the most turbulence, as NT is considered a sub-association, therefore the exec can choose how much funding they receive each year, proportional to the enrolled Maori student population. It appears that Freemantle is attempting to shift this, however, describing the two groups as “parallel organisations”.

In opening the meeting, NT representative Matt Gifford informed the group what their role was within the university. NT aim to provide many of the same services as VUWSA, which are primarily “for their members”, including advocacy and administration. They are further in partnership with Te Herenga Waka Marae, where many of their services are based.

After sweeping through the weekly formalities, including the exec’s individual work report procedure, it was time for business. Organisation of the Hangover Hangi, a joint project, was high on the agenda, with members on both sides of the table eager to assist each other—perhaps the first example of “fostering cooperation”, which both Freemantle and NT Tumuaki Albert Tibble referred to throughout the meeting.

In parallel to VUWSA’s Orientation events, NT have been running their own similar activities, which were discussed widely as an agenda item. Although many of the VUWSA executive were mildly surprised there were alternative Orientation events organised, they again seemed keen to lend a hand.

Looking to the future, Freemantle proceeded to fulfil another of her new strategic and operational plans, by creating content for the next time the two groups meet.

What amounted to an open session of future joint ideas concluded with all agreeing to work closely together throughout the year, and further trying to involve university governance in these initiatives, “which gets hard some times,” said Freemantle. Centred on the use of the Marae, Education Officer (Education) Tim Wang put forward the idea of an overnight stay for international students. Freemantle said this sort of initiative is what they require to “make the Marae and the Memorandum [between NT and VUWSA] more accessible.”

Throughout the meeting, kept on track by the iron fist of Freemantle, it was ideas like these that kept their momentum going. For the VUWSA exec it will be interesting to see whether the momentum created from the Change Proposal and Freemantle’s own operational plan can sustain the year. With the February deadline now passed, and many Key Performance Indicators of this plan due for initial completion, we at Salient will be watching with fascination to ensure these are followed through.

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  1. Correction: We’d just like to point out that there can be three student associations, and not one as mentioned in this week’s Eye on the Exec

    That’s three, three associations, ah ah ha.

  2. wiramu says:

    Yeah been a long and complicate history, good to see that things are being progressed and hopefully some of the accountabilities and issues in the past can be addressed.

    The whole change proposal thing might take a while as it seems there is a lot to get through, won’t be easy.

  3. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Whilst I am very impressed with the work that Jasmine and the exec have done thus far, I am concerned over how subtly the Change Proposal document has been appropriated into the agenda for this year. Jasmine proclaimed her adamant opposition to the proposal in her campaign for the Presidency, calling it a “D-grade first year briefing paper”, yet she seems quite keen on advocating portions of it this year (a recommendations document was circulated among VUWSA staff and the exec last month).

    I don’t see this as a bad thing per se – I supported the Change Proposal – but I find the switch in position to be somewhat contradictory.

  4. nancy says:

    She opposed the Change Proposal as it was, the sticking point being the attacks on the clubs, there will be some things that she might support, remember it went into the process etc and it is due to be looked at again and next stage so will be interesting to see what changes are made.

  5. Hemmy says:

    But it is ok to attack Salient and Activities and the general staff? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

  6. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    nancy: I agree with what you are saying about the document having entered ‘into the process’. I support the exec’s decision to take a pragmatic look at the Change Proposal document and decide upon which portions of it are applicable and which require revision. However, this process was going to occur irrespective of who held the Presidency this year. The document was never intended to be rote-applied. It was a starting point for much-needed change aimed at generating student feedback.

    My stickling point was over the negative attention drawn to this document during the Presidential campaigns and the subsequent change in opinion to a more malleable tone. I’m happy that change is happening, but concerned that it is being appropriated in contradiction to Jasmine’s candidacy last year.

    Matt.

  7. Jasmine Freemantle says:

    Just thought that I’d clear up a few things surrounding the Change Proposal:

    Firstly, it is indeed true that I still on a platform of opposition to the original Change Proposal document, and I stand by this opposition. This document proposed the disestablishment of several core VUWSA staff positions (Advertising and Sponsorship Manager, Clubs Development Officer, Activities Coordinator), and the handing over of clubs and related services to the University. Following the release of this document, a Change Proposal Committee was established in order to hear submissions on the document. After receiving submissions (both written and oral), the Committee issued its own recommendations report. This document was very different to the original document, and did not endorse the disestablishment of the three aforementioned positions included in the original document. Instead, this document put forward the recommendation of establishing an Association Manager, and the disestablishment of a different staff members job. This second document also proposed a number of recommendations concerning management and governance (concerning issues such as financial processes, constitutional changes surrounding Salient’s autonomy, and a review of the Team Vic arrangement). It should be noted that I was a non-voting advisor to this Committee (along with VUWSA’s 2008 President, Joel Cosgrove, and 2008 Campaigns Officer and Acting Education VP, Sonny Thomas – though Sonny opted out of the process around October last year). It should also be noted that I did not, and do not, endorse the Committee’s report in full. This report was open for submissions until late Feb 09 (though only to VUWSA staff and former submitters). While the 2009 Executive endorse aspects of the report, such as a review of Team Vic and whether this arrangement is the best way that we can serve our members, the Executive recently voted to (a) receive and accept the report, but not in full, and (b) endorse the introduction of an Association Manager. I am currently in the process of drafting a 90 day plan to be worked on by a subcommittee (which includes myself, VUWSA’s 3 VPs, a member of the VUWSA Trust, and an outside specialist). This plan will put forward suggestions concerning what recommendations outlined by the Change Proposal Committee should be actioned, and if so, what concrete steps should be taken in order to best benefit the Association and our members. This plan (along with a reworked Association Manager’s Job Description), will be tabled at an Executive meeting within the next few weeks.

  8. Jasmine Freemantle says:

    Sorry, I meant ‘stood’, not ‘still’ in the 2nd sentence.
    Also, VUWSA Executive meetings are public meetings, so I encourage all that are interested to attend these should they wish to do so. These meetings are generally held every Wednesday at 6pm in the VUWSA Meeting Room (ground floor, Student Union Building), between now and the beginning of June. A timetable of meetings for June-Dec will be organised in a couple of months. Please note that we are commencing the Exec meeting at 4.30pm this week though, in order to ensure that Executive members can be on duty at our evening Orientation events. Alternatively, I’m always happy to reply to e-mails, phone calls, or to meet in person with interested individuals and/or groups.

  9. Hemmy says:

    WALL OF TEXT DESTROY CAPITALIST SOULS

  10. Goku_Karori_28 says:

    Smirk. More like “cry on the exec”

    Smirk.

  11. Hemmy says:

    jasmine w hat are these issues concerning “constitutional changes surrounding Salient’s autonomy”?

  12. Chewy says:

    A change to make the magazine more of a VUWSA newsletter, with president sign-off, perhaps? That’d make the magazine reaaall good

  13. Freya Eng says:

    If that had been the plan, we would have had the power to do it by now, and the means. The only thing that has changed for Salient is the shifting of some money around on the budget. However it’s still the same amount of funding. Just boring budget stuff, none of that scandalous sensation of a VUWSA-Salient war you might believe we are bent on waging.

    As an added note, if you read the minutes of our meetings and our work reports on our website (if you click on the above link, you will be taken straight there), you will find that this year we are intent on putting systems in place that demonstrate to our members that we are hard working and, most importantly, accountable. No one on our executive is a bigger stickler for that than Jasmine Freemantle.

  14. smackdown says:

    woah shit the person in charge is a fan of responsibility, fuck me, news at 11.

  15. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Jasmine: As always, thank you for a detailed response. What you’ve said regarding your viewpoint on the disestablishment of the three job roles, as well as the fact that you were a non-voting member on the revised report who does not endorse it fully, is reasonable. I will still say that it seems like a partial reverse on your staunch opposition to the document last year, but accept the fact that the document has a life of itself beyond the control of your position as President (and indeed the exec itself).

    Freya: Most of the opposition to the Salient budget alterations this year were not so much around the funding itself, but around the accusations that Salient ‘loses’ money. It was frequently bandied around that Salient loses the association over 100k a year, neglecting the fact that Salient is designed to provide a service rather than a profit. If being allocated an annual budget is considered a ‘loss’, then the budget allocations for rep groups – which similarly are designed to provide a service rather than a financial return – must also be considered a ‘loss’. It jsut seemed to be a bit of an unfair twist on words, was all.

    Jasmine / Freya: The focus on accountability and hardwork is paying off. You guys really do seem to be getting a hell of a lot done – in a far more professional manner than the execs of previous years – and I congratulate you for it. Incidentally, though, I can’t seem to find the meeting minutes on the VUWSA website – could you please provide a direct link?

    Cheers, Matt.

  16. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    “Most of the opposition to the Salient budget alterations this year were not so much around the funding itself, but around the accusations that Salient ‘loses’ money.”

    Sorry, I should also add onto this the opposition to moving the costs of the Advertising/Sponsorship Managers’ role wholly into the Salient budget, when (s)he works equally for Salient and VUWSA. But that’s a different kettle of fish and not related to this article.

  17. Seamus Brady says:

    Matt – Have a look here: http://www.vuwsa.org.nz/about/official-documents/2009-meetings.

    Not all of them are up yet, but that should change once the new website is launched.

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