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May 25, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Latimer defiant over Food bank mishap

Relations between members of Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA)’s Executive have been strained following an appearance of an apology for the loss of the association’s digital Food bank database.

The confidential data, which contained the names and contact details of Victoria students who made use of VUWSA’s Food bank service, was on a laptop owned by Education Welfare Officer Robert Latimer, and was lost during a trip to Nelson.

The Executive issued a collective apology to students in last week’s issue of Salient, though Latimer himself was not involved in its construction, nor did he see it before it went to print.

The apology maintained that while Latimer was responsible for the loss of the database, the Executive as whole took responsibility for allowing him to work on it outside of VUWSA’s premises.

Latimer, upset by the wording of the apology, claimed the Executive was using him as a “scapegoat” for a miscellaneous mishap that could have “happened to anyone”.

“The way that it was worded, which I was not allowed to be a part of, indicated that they were blaming it entirely on me, as if I wanted my bag to be stolen with my laptop in it,” Latimer said.

He contends the decision not to issue an apology himself was justified.

“Apologising for someone stealing items is not necessary as it could happen anytime, anywhere.”

When questioned why he was excluded from composing the collective apology, Latimer said that he believed “certain executive members” were using the situation as a way of ousting him from his elected position.

“I personally believe it is because [Education Vice President] Freya Eng, [Welfare Vice President] Seamus Brady and [VUWSA President] Jasmine Freemantle have personal issues against me. We don’t see eye to eye on issues.”

Latimer’s unhappiness manifested itself in an incident in the VUWSA reception on 18 May, where he reportedly yelled at VUWSA President Jasmine Freemantle for being referred to as “Latimer” instead of “Mr. Latimer” in the apology letter.

He noted a number of heated exchanges between himself and both Eng and Brady, while simultaneously feeling “intimidated” by Freemantle’s style of presidency.

“The [vice presidents] are very tight, a little bit too tight for it to be democratic,” he said.

VUWSA President Jasmine Freemantle said that VUWSA would be taking formal steps to ensure confidential information was not so susceptible to theft.

She also believed that Latimer needed to exercise a duty of care for the missing data.

“As the one in charge of the information, he should recognise that,” she said.

Welfare Vice-President Seamus Brady expressed worry about the reputation of VUWSA and the Food bank due to the incident, as well as possible repercussions the lost data might have for the Food bank’s funding next year.

He has since spoken to the Head of Student Finance and the Head of Student Services who sit on the committee which funds the Food bank service.

“They realised it was a shit position to be in because it was stolen, and they seemed to understand,” he said.

Brady was hesitant as to whether students could still trust Latimer, admitting that it was very unfortunate that he lost his bag, but that the question of trust was “up to the students.”

Despite the incident, Brady is certain that students could still trust the Executive whom he asserted is “much better than last year.”

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Comments (19)

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  1. Matthew Donaldson says:

    “Latimer’s unhappiness manifested itself in an incident in the VUWSA reception on 18 May, where he reportedly yelled at VUWSA President Jasmine Freemantle for being referred to as “Latimer” instead of “Mr. Latimer” in the apology letter.”

    You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Bob Latimer is a joke.

  2. Seamus Brady says:

    Just to clarify, it was decided by the Executive at our meeting on the 13th of May that the three Vice-Presidents and the President would draft and send an apology for this incident to Salient due to the magazine going to print the next day.

    Nobody, including Robert, raised objections to that course of action being taken.

  3. Nicole says:

    If “Mr” Latimer was so confident the information was lost through no fault of his own, why did he take at least a week to inform anyone it was missing?

    Seamus is right, the Exec is much more cohesive and efficient this year, and if there are “personal issues” (namely 3 on 1) maybe Latimer should stop rejecting any criticism and either improve or resign.

    The Exec has been careful not to lable this as an event which students will lose trust in Latimer from, another attempt at cohesion and moving forwards from mud throwing last year. Instead, they have given him every opertunity to take responsibility for an unfortunate event (regardless of the fact this “could happen to anybody”) and show students he can move forward. It is a shame he is doing anything but.

    Man up Latimer, everyone makes mistakes.

  4. Gus Hodgson says:

    I hope that Seamus and every other person in this article don’t feel unhappy about being referred to by their last name after their first name is established.

  5. Nicole says:

    How do you feel, Hodgson?

  6. Gus Hodgson says:

    I change my stance! Somebody referred to me by my last name with no prefix or my first name. This is an outrageous attack on me.

    Democracy is obviously sound and safe now that we aren’t “tight”, Nicole.

  7. data says:

    Sucks that his laptop was stolen, it seems that it was how information was stored (in one place on a laptop that could not be guaranteed to be secure 100% of the time) so bad infrastructure in place if the data wasn’t stored on the VUWSA network also as a backup (if all the data has been lost then that would be a shocker).

    I don’t blame Latimer individually (although he needs to take some collective blame and take more care with information and this needs to be prevented happening again).

    I think it should certainly be prevented from happening again i.e. information being stored (as files) should at least be on the VUWSA network (with security if it is confidential information) and updated if work is done off site/remotely…

    As for the wider conflict issues, that shouldn’t be a part of the laptop/data issue but separate. The Exec needs to sort out their problems…

  8. Andrew Frankston says:

    Well, Robert, everybody makes mistakes. Yours wasn’t exercising complete diligence and care with something that didn’t belong to you – but hey, it was still a mistake, and it looks like your Exec colleagues are willing to forgive you for it. Don’t be a dick – admit it was a fuck up, that you’re gonna work doubly hard to insure the food bank database is up and running better than ever, and that willing to work with your colleagues rather than childlishly slagging them off through the press. Frankly, your reaction to the whole situation is far more offensive and embarassing than the mishap that led to it. Until this article, you were careless, but human. Now you’re a crying, pathetic, buck-passing douchebag. Man the fuck up.

  9. Gordon Tan says:

    VUWSA’s time spent fighting over such incidents could have been time spent resolving it. Simple as that, it shouldn’t have dragged on like this.

  10. eternal says:

    I think that robbert had little to know blame. I myself had my laptop stolen the other day. have had it for three years, left it in the other room for ten minutes came back and it was gone. some things cant be stopped from happning, no matter how careful you are. and lets not forget all the other trouble that the rest of them have got upto latly that had nothing to do with robbert. on three news once or twice, and not in a good light.

  11. Hank Scorpioooo says:

    uh wut

    i don’t remember seeing any exec members on telly just a coupla knobs who used to be there

    but near enough is close enough huh

  12. eternal says:

    the reath on anzake day. and i remember hearing another story, cant remember from who. but the point is that have got up to allot of trouble over the last week. did the students get conselted about not putting up the reath? I never hird of it? think the saying, don’t throw stones in glass houses fits quite well hear

  13. Patrick says:

    Was the data encrypted? If not, it sure as hell should have been.

  14. cijawa says:

    why the fuck are elected officials doing data entry? get some patsy student to do it for minimum wage and get on with actually running the students association clowns.

  15. thenakedgoth says:

    “left it in the other room for ten minutes came back and it was gone. some things cant be stopped from happning”

    umm….maybe not leaving it in the other room for ten minutes would have stopped it from happening?

  16. Duncan J. says:

    Students should be able to chose what their representatives do – in terms of what services the association provides.

    Other than Salient and voting in elections I have never used a service that they provide – I would say I had sat in the Student Union Building, but they don’t even own the building they reside in

    My 133 dollars could be better spent on the bio text book I have to buy for next trimester.

  17. cijawa says:

    “I think data entry is part of running any association….

    Would you prefer they hire students to fan them and feed them grapes?”

    I don’t think data entry is part of a governance role of a $2m entity. Do you? I think elected officials should be treated as governors in any organisation, regardless of size. Your “fan them and feed them grapes” aside, I think we should treat our student leaders with respect, then maybe some decent people would stand.

    Also, the general exec are paid, right? They shouldn’t be, but then, they should be expected to do basic administration.

    As an aside, I think the executive is too big. 13 people is miles too big for an org. of $2m. I know, I know, we have to represent the gays and the feminists, but do we really need two education officers or an environmental officer? I’d say that the work a thirteen person executive does could realistically be done by about 8 people.

  18. cijawa says:

    Sorry:

    “They shouldn’t be, but then, they *shouldn’t* be expected to do basic administration.”

  19. Dimples says:

    Politics: A JOKE

    Student politics: A VERY BAD JOKE

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