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March 30, 2009 | by  | in Opinion |
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President’s Column

An important part of tertiary education is learning how to question, analyse and challenge the world in which we live. Student media have always had an important role to play in this process.

The best example of this at Victoria University has been student print media, in particular, Salient. Founded in 1938, Salient has been in regular publication for 61 years.

Salient has always called itself a ‘student magazine’, as it is written by and for University students. Salient replaced its predecessor, Smad (1930-7), providing, in the words of historian Stephen Hamilton, “a newspaper more attuned to the rising political crisis” of the times.

Certainly, the founding editors made their intention clear:

Send out, Salient, the swift satiric point, To smart the sluggard mind awake, While Freedom anywhere in bonds is pent No compromise with falseness make, Those freed today tomorrow must leap Some further outpost there to take and keep.

The function of Salient, as an independent student paper, quite obviously was (and still is) to help inform students about the issues of the day, and to offer perspectives which are of particular relevance to readers as students.

Today, Salient is published weekly (rather than fortnightly, as was the tradition), and has ballooned to over 60 pages. The magazine is also governed by a Publications Committee: comprising the VUWSA President, the VUWSA Administration Vice President, the Publications Editor, another member of Salient staff, and two elected student representatives. This Committee formerly incorporates Salient into VUWSA’s structure. The purpose of the Committee is to annually appoint the Publications Editor, set and see that designated publications (such as Salient, and the Handbook Diary) stick budget, and to act in an advisory role to the Publications Editor.

The objectives and expectations of Salient are outlined in the Salient Charter, contained within Schedule 3 of the VUWSA Constitution. Among other things the Charter gives the Publications Editor power to “determine the form and content of Salient with complete freedom from political interference”. The Charter also outlines “the right to expect reasonable coverage of the year’s priority goals”.

In 2009, Salient has become a central part of the student experience at Victoria, and is published both in print and online form. It is also important to note that Salient’s readership is not contained to students: every Monday morning the Vice Chancellor, members of Senior Management, and many members of University Council also read the publication. Whilst a student magazine, it has also become an important publication of Wellington, and over the years has established itself as a significant part of the social and political landscape of the capital city. Of course, print hasn’t been the only form of student media at Victoria.

In 1982, Radio Active was set up as Victoria’s student radio station. At the time it was the first FM station in the Wellington region, and it is said that on a good day people could pick up the frequency in Palmerston North. The combination of comparatively high radio set up costs, poor management and a lack of planning, meant that by the end of that decade Radio Active was losing money fast. The student Executive of the day recommended to a VUWSA general meeting that the station be sold off. Privatisation was of course fashionable in the late 1980s and early 90s, and was seen as an appropriate way of fixing these financial problems. A general meeting of VUWSA voted to sell off Active in 1992.

Within a few years Active was making a profit. Unfortunately by the mid-to-late 1990s Active ceased to be a student radio station, with a different audience and not even a campus studio.

Until relatively recently, Victoria was the only major New Zealand university that did not have a student radio station.

The Victoria Broadcasting Club (VBC) was founded in late 2005 in order to fill this gap in Victoria’s student media. The VBC spent most of 2006 working to re-establish a campus station, spending much of their time convincing the University, the VUWSA Executive, and in particular members of the VUWSA Trust (many of whom had been around or involved in the early 1990s when Active was sold), of the merits of bringing back student radio to Victoria. In the face of considerable hurdles and ardent opposition and cynicism from many, the VBC managed to establish and launch the station in February 2007.

Last Wednesday, VUWSA signed the Deed of the Victoria Broadcasting Trust. The purpose of the Deed is to establish a charitable Trust which oversees the running of the VBC, along with other broadcast and online media serving past, present and future students of Victoria and the Wellington region.

The Deed was signed by myself, Albert Tibble (President of Ngai Tauira), along with Matthew Davis, Kristen Paterson and Douglas Tereu of the VBC.

The Deed formalises the student station as an entity that is run by and for students, and also formalises the relationship between the station and VUWSA.

The station has been established in order to promote the interests of a diverse range of students, and covers content that is of particular interest to students. The goal of the VBC is to complement Salient and to strengthen student media at Victoria University.

Both myself and the 2009 Executive are strongly supportive of maintaining and building strong student media at Victoria. Specifically, I am interested in working with both the VBC and Salient in order to ensure that each entity remains independent, while simultaneously retaining the support from VUWSA that they require.

Student media is about getting students interested and involved in what’s going on both inside and outside the University environment. It’s about keeping VUWSA, the University, and external parties accountable to students and promoting the opinions of the student body. I encourage you all to participate in this process.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Kerry says:

    Congrat’s to the VBC & the Prez for getting that momentous deed finalised.

    About time the station had some kind of backstop, it’s been years of hard slog to get where they are now and they totally deserve to be legitimised in this manner.

    I remember coming to VUW in the ’80’s, just as the radioactivity of Hunter basement was being geiger-counted; Active got moved to a cupboard in SUB, and the plans for shifting the Music School were sped up, leading to the Adam Foundation underwriting the replacement building in Fairlie Tce.
    I’m sure the Hunter courtyard is still slightly ‘hot’, never mind the mailroom area of Hunter; but that’s a story someone else can follow up, if news tips are needed!

  2. Gohan_Aro_01 says:

    HAH. The president can’t add. HAH.

    “Founded in 1938, Salient has been in regular publication for 61 years.”

    HAH. I didn’t even need my Casio Model 14-A to work out that it’s been in regular production for 71 years.

    We trust our finances to this woman?

  3. the tank says:

    feminazi fm

    cut ur penis off women r gonna make a new world

  4. little colin says:

    walla walla all i wanna do is eat mah hot mince pie

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