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May 18, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Eye on Exec: Ka Kite, Food Bank Info. Ka Kite.

Last week’s meeting again drew attention to executive accountability, with members exposing an unfortunate short-falling in the Food bank service that VUWSA provides to students.

In an unforeseen human error, student data compiled for the VUWSA run Food bank has been lost. The database (which contained student names, contact details and their reasons for applying for a food parcel) was lost or stolen in transit, along with personal belongings, as Education Welfare Officer Robert Latimer returned from Nelson these holidays.

The Food bank is a welfare service which gives out food parcels to students based on a personal needs basis throughout the year.

The newly built database and application forms were taken off campus during the holidays to be entered by Latimer in order to clear a backlog. The database would then be accessible only by password “to those who needed it.” In previous years the data had just been stored in a spreadsheet which was accessible to everybody. The new database was an initiative which would have added greater privacy and accountability to the Food bank service.

Welfare Vice-President Seamus Brady expressed regret for the incident, and the questions it raises about the organisational structures within VUWSA. He repined that “the amount of effort that has gone to getting on track and the emphasis on our strategic plan… it looks really bad on VUWSA, it looks like we’re incompetent.” The Executive had made considerable effort to improve the Food bank service for students this year through using trained personnel, and had recorded that usage was up.

Brady explained that due to the error, VUWSA “risks losing the Victoria University contribution to the Food bank” which is granted on a yearly basis. Even this year, the university showed reluctance to fund the service. He explained that Victoria wanted “stronger accountable systems put in place so that they knew that their money was being spent well.” Brady feared that the latest loss of the Food bank data may influence the university’s funding decision next year.

He estimated that VUWSA could potentially lose around $15,000 per year in external funding for the service due to the loss of information.

Latimer has filed a police report for his missing belongings, which includes the Food bank data.

Though the demographic information for this year has been lost, VUWSA will be seeking to rebuild the database through “backtracking how much food has been used.”

Despite this, Brady still acknowledged the risk that “the integrity of the Food bank has been lowered, and that students feel that their private information is not safe.” For this reason, VUWSA have appointed Alexander Neilson to table some draft policies to make sure that similar errors do not happen in the future.

Neilson noted that although it was Latimer who lost the data, the executive “collectively have to be responsible for all actions.” The VUWSA exec will be issuing a formal apology to students in print.

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  1. Matthew Donaldson says:

    This astounds me. This really fucking blows my mind.

    There have been some dipshit dumbass moments in VUWSA history ($20K van, free trip to Oz for <3 Penis Boy) but this is an absolute disgrace. Not only has a noble and decent service been put in serious jeopardy by the careless actions of an absolute fucking idiot (take a bow, Latimer), but a collection of precious and highly confidential information was treated with the same diligence and care as a junk mail flyer.

    What’s more, the person responsible doesn’t seem to have the gall to stand up and admit that it was his carelessness that enabled this to happen. A token apology from the Exec is par from the course, but where’s your letter of apology, Robert? How are you holding yourself accountable to your constituents and those students less well-off than most who relied on this service?

    Not a single fucking word. You’re pathetic, Latimer. Absolutely fucking pathetic.

  2. David says:

    This clown should have fucking resigned. He’s old school VUWSA, on an exec thats tryin to make things right. Pathetic.

  3. for me to know says:

    I think that is a pretty sad view to take, sure people are pissed that their personal details that were on the laptop are onw in the hands of someone who obviously has no conscience otherwise they would return it, but the details are password protected and if i hs been stolen then that is partly out of Latimers control…..

  4. Matthew Donaldson says:

    I think it’s a completely natural view to take, actually. What we’re asking for is a little accountability and a recognition from Latimer that this happened on his watch and that he’s sorry that it happened on his watch.

  5. Paul Danger Brown says:

    What old school VUWSA with his tenure of 6 months? That’s fair comment since most resign in 4 months.

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