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March 30, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Vile VUWSA Van Veil Vanishing Vanquished Verily

Another veil of secrecy was lifted off the much maligned Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) van, with the declassification of a previously confidential document regarding the purchase of the controversial vehicle.

The 2009 VUWSA Exec voted unanimously during the 25 March Exec meeting to declassify the document in the interests of greater transparency and accountability.

The document describes how 2007 VUWSA President Geoff Hayward, and then Education Vice President Paul Danger Brown “signed the purchase order” for approximately $20,000 worth of modifications to the VUWSA van without going through the proper channels.

“To incur expenses, the association has to authorise it in a budget or as additional expenditure to a budget. In this case, two officers signed a purchase order without required authorisation,” the document says.

It then goes on to list four possible scenarios “available to the association executive in repairing this failure.”

The first scenario calls for a retrospective validation of the purchase, but contends that doing so would be constitutionally difficult.

The second scenario suggests invoicing those who signed the purchase order.

The third scenario invites the possibility of filing a complaint with the police, citing that the unauthorised purchase was a “misuse of funds by officers of the association, and while not for personal benefit and therefore not fraud, it is illegal.” It concludes that this would not be a viable option due to the fact that “[VUWSA] would be suing [itself]” and would be required to pay “the excess on the insurance.”

The fourth scenario, and by far the most alarming, suggests that the 2008 Exec “do nothing and hope that no one ever finds out that the constitution was not complied with.”
VUWSA President Jasmine Freemantle explained the drive behind the release was to lay waste to the fourth scenario.
“The impetus for releasing this particular document into the public domain rests in the 2009 Executive’s motivation to ensure that the Association’s dealings are transparent and accountable,” Freemantle said.

“It is our feeling that this was certainly not the case in the handling of the van issue by the 2007 and 2008 Executive members, particularly Geoff Hayward and Paul Brown, responsible for the van expenditure and the subsequent suppression of this document.”

During the 25 March Exec meeting, Education Vice-President Freya Eng called upon the 2009 Exec to make amends for Hayward and Brown’s attempt to smother the truth.

“There should be an Executive apology to the student body on behalf of the association for the actions of Geoff Hayward and Education Vice-President Paul Brown, and for the subsequent suppression of the Van Expenditure document by the 2008 executive,” Eng said.

In conjunction with the four mooted scenarios, the document notes that while options three and four would not “be in any way good for the association,” it disregards the second scenario by virtue of the van’s relative use to VUWSA.

“Option two could be used, however as the van does now have improved use for running events where VUWSA needs amplification thanks to the sound system, and that the window tints should make it more comfortable for long trips, it does have better use to the association,” the document says.

“This should be taken into account when looking into the van expenditure.”

Freemantle concurred with the sentiments expressed by Eng in the meeting.

“While the 2009 Executive have inherited this document and cannot be held individually responsible for the van expenditure nor for the inappropriate way that it was handled by former Executive members,” she said. “We do, all the same, apologise to students for this gross miscarriage of accountability.”

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Comments (2)

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  1. Graeme Edgeler says:

    The third scenario makes no sense at all. Going to the police doesn’t involve suing anyone. It involves them considering whether to lay criminal charges.

    Also – “declassify” – wtf?

  2. Hank Scorpio says:

    –verb (used with object), -fied, -fying. to remove the classification from (information, a document, etc.) that restricts access in terms of secrecy, confidentiality, etc.


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