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May 26, 2010 | by  | in News Online Only |
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VUWSA exec member guilty of misconduct

VUWSA executive member James Sleep has been found guilty of misconduct by the VUWSA exec, following comments made in his Salient column earlier this month (see column here).

VUWSA received a formal complaint following the column’s publication in the 3 May issue of Salient.

Sleep made reference in the column to “the rich kids who you might find yourself sitting next to”, and “the one’s that seem to think it’s a status boost to say they live in Weir House”.

The exec found Sleep had breached the VUWSA Code of Conduct by making negative and disrespectful comments about VUWSA members.

When asked to make a public apology for the comments made in the column, Sleep initially refused to do so.

“No, that is not something I will be doing. I am not prepared to make a public apology in Salient. I don’t see why I need to.”

Following the meeting Sleep contacted Salient to say he had “had second thoughts” and would apologise in a later issue of Salient.

Sleep did acknowledge using the stereotypes “was unacceptable” and agreed to apologise to the complainant, but only after it was suggested by the exec.

Sleep’s column was discussed in a recent select committee hearing about Roger Douglas’s Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill, a bill which would introduce voluntary membership to all students’ associations.

VUWSA President Max Hardy told Salient he was disappointed that Sleep had made the comments.

“The accountability of executive members is ultimately to the students.

“VUWSA expects higher standards of ethical conduct of its Executive members that we generally expect of the general public.”

Sleep told Hardy during the investigation that he did not believe the phrases were offensive and said he was attempting to be “deliberately provocative”.

Hardy said in his report to the exec that Sleep “showed a general disrespect to the process” and “did not take the allegations seriously”.

Sleep told the exec that he accepted the misconduct finding, but disputed that he had not taken the complaint seriously.

Sleep says turning up to the meeting and talking about the complaint was enough to be seen as taking it seriously.

Exec members were concerned by Sleep’s actions following the meeting with Hardy, when he was heard laughing about the issue.

The misconduct decision does not require the exec to take any disciplinary action against Sleep.

An agreement between Salient and VUWSA means that all columns submitted by exec members are not edited by Salient, subject to libel laws, before being published.

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Comments (66)

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  1. Sum Dum Gi says:

    Are there any consequences or was it simply “naughty boy, don’t do that?”

  2. Raptor says:

    This is why VSM is such a tasty option.

  3. Angela Mabey says:

    “The misconduct decision does not require the exec to take any disciplinary action against Sleep.”

    Three misconduct findings would result in serious misconduct and further action would be taken at that point.

  4. lol says:

    fuck who cares

  5. Raptor says:

    What is the betting that lol is someone at VUWASS? I’m going to say: Pretty high.

  6. Sam says:

    “deliberately provocative”, and so he should have been!

    Look at the issue at hand, and look at the apathetic students VUWSA is aiming to engage!

  7. smackdown says:

    its my birthday

  8. Angela Mabey says:

    The Code of Conduct requires VUWSA exec members to “treat everyone fairly and with respect” and “Show respect to the person…”.

    Regardless of Sleep’s intention to be “deliberately provocative”, Sleep was found to be in breach of these requirements.

  9. Shitkicker McGee says:

    Happy birthday!

  10. Raptor says:

    This is what I imagine VUWSA to be like:

    Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
    Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

  11. Clement Mc Bigglewaddle says:

    Mentioning that there are entitled rich kids at Vic, and some people brag about going to Weir House, isn’t exactly mind-boggling.

    It’s not wise to alienate any members of your constituency, but to be fair I have heard way worse said about rich kids, and many more stereotyping from both former and current Execs at VUWSA. James just did it in a regrettable forum.

    Also, enough of the witch-hunt. Misconduct is not the wrong term for this poor decision, but it is a stretch. This could easily have had a blind eye turned if James was more popular with the VUWSA exec. He may be a zealot but he’s 18 ffs, saying heated things and being over-enthused by ideas is his right and good on him, though he (I’m sure) will learn to pick his audiences better.

    This was a cock-up in the midst of an attempted impassioned rant about students getting a raw deal. I’d rather a young, idealistic and inexperienced Exec than one who doesn’t give a shit about anything.

  12. Angela Mabey says:

    The decision was as a result of an investigation following a formal complaint from a student, not another exec member.

    As Hardy says: “VUWSA expects higher standards of ethical conduct of its Executive members that we generally expect of the general public.”

    Sleep himself accepted the finding of misconduct, this was not the exec unfairly targeting one member.

    Reporting on the exec is part of Salient’s job, not a witch hunt.

  13. Sam says:

    Angela, you are media not someone standing up for the exec. Play your role and stop being cocky.

  14. Gerald McKenzie says:

    Glad to see that Mr Sleep is being held accountable for that slightly offensive column. I am in Weir House, and am certainly no rich kid from some elite school- but there is no reason why he needs to attack people he is supposed to be representing. You are wrong Clement, if they had simply overlooked this matter I would have left VUWSA. Glad they didn’t.

  15. Clement Mc Bigglewaddle says:

    I didn’t say the witch hunt was from salient, or the complaint was from VUWSA. I am simply stating that James seems unpopular at VUWSA and because of that this comes across as a witch hunt to me.

    Interesting that you clarify and reply to all critical comments on this thread, even when they are not critical of yourself or the article. I am inclined to think authorial intervention should be reserved for matters of substantive misunderstanding or slander, and salient staff members should ignite debate and let it run its course rather than jump in every third point.

    No one is critisising your writing or needing clarification so far, and whilst I am sure you have a vested interest in the reception to your articles, frequent points of information from journalists on news sites are uncommon for a reason – they come across as defensive and imply you aren’t confident your article explains itself well enough. Perhaps take a leaf out of Nicola Wood or Laura McQuillan’s books and leave it to the students to banter without fear of frequent unneeded ‘clarifications’.

  16. The Bookie says:

    So currently taking bets that “lol” is a part of VUWSA and “Clement Mc Bigglewaddle” is Joel Cosgroves desperate attempt at a clever pseudonym. Cause, you know, the whole debacle surrounding him was obviously a witch-hunt.

  17. Fair nuff. says:

    It’s seems more than fair that Sleep has been found guilty of misconduct.

    Putting aside the offensive remarks about a high proportion of the student body (we’re talkin’ past and present inhabitants of Weir House here) there are a few things that put paid to the notion that Sleep deserves harsh commentary for it all.

    1. It wasn’t until near the last minute when he considered his actions to have been offensive, instead he had maintained that they were “deliberatively provocative” and that this was fine-by-him.
    — Was his intent to raise the profile of the central issue of his article, or was it merely a sad attempt at to provoke a higher rate of comments than other opinion pieces?

    2. It wasn’t until the very last minute when Sleep accepted that his words were offensive and that they did justify the misconduct result.
    — This is only thanks to the VUWSA Executive holding him to account.

    3. It wasn’t until after the very last minute that Sleep offered an apology. Presumably this only happened after the words of somebody who is clearly politically astute by comparison to Sleep, informed him of the repercussions of not apologising.

    4. At the end of the day, the original piece that this whole sleepy saga is centred on was appallingly written and woefully underwhelming. Seems as if he fondled the keyboard.

  18. Clement Mc Bigglewaddle says:

    No, the whole debate surrounding him was mostly due to pimping his ride, his penis and his trip to austraalya. But thanks, I do like hobo beards and Marx.

  19. Lookin for New Thrills says:

    God keyboard fondling sounds hot. Do y’reckon he’d fondle my keyboard? Maybe while I watched? I could probably get him one of those yellow anoraks. Or maybe one of the clear ones.

  20. The Bookie says:

    Ok the word was debacle not debate. But I appreciate your attempt at PC-ness. However debate would tend to suggest two cogent, lucid sides to an argument. Not the real world vs. Joel.

    But kia ora for owning your hobo beard love. Nuthin but respect from this bookie for that.

  21. Shitkicker McGee says:

    LOL Gerald McKenzie, good luck leaving VUWSA

  22. smackdown says:

    shut up its my birthday no fighting on my birthday

  23. smackdown says:

    not u shitkicker u cool :D

  24. Shitkicker McGee says:

    oi when’s the party

  25. peteremcc says:

    You are wrong Clement, if they had simply overlooked this matter I would have left VUWSA. Glad they didn’t.”

    That’s GOLD!

  26. smackdown says:

    party at weir house free drinks for everyone not called james sleep

  27. Evan Simms says:

    I think the title of this article holds a range of extremely negative connotations (theft, fraud, bribery) that are simply not fit to be associated to the hardly scandalous comments made by Sleep. Even though Salient thinks this is a big news breaker.

    Student politicians make controversial comments which may marginalise a *perceived* group of people to make a point. Sleep’s comments certainly *didn’t* read as though he was talking about anyone in particular in Weir House, or even anyone at all in Weir House full-stop. He was playing on a well known perception associated to Weir House.

    Sleep would be the first to acknowledge that he played on a perception, which he has done, because it’s pretty bloody obvious. Now, the question: Why did he do it?

    Sleep of course did this deliberately, as he has stated. He used it to push a wider issue that he believes will have negative implications for all students.

    One person complained…..AND? They should harden the fuck up.

    It’s simple to say that it was actually aimed at a group of people, but I thought people would be wise enough to analyse what was said, and in what context and come to a better conclusion about the intent of the article and that his couple of comments were tongue and cheek playing on those perceptions.

    This perception is not necessarily true, but people know the perception exists, and he used it to illustrate his point.

    Fuck people are precious.

  28. Ladeda says:

    What bullshit. The title is exactly what happened, there aren’t any connotations. It’s fact.
    And who cares if it’s some common stereotype. The guy is meant to represent students, not bag on ones he has some problem with.
    He gets paid by the students he has been a dick too.

  29. Ladeda says:

    What bullshit. The title is exactly what happened, there aren’t any connotations. It’s fact.
    And who cares if it’s some common stereotype. The guy is meant to represent students, not bag on ones he has some problem with.
    He gets paid by the students he has been a dick to.

  30. BB says:

    I don’t think we need to overact. What the VUWSA Exec has done is appropriate action as a result of a complaint. Ka pai. It is not sensational media stuff.

  31. Che says:

    Well he obviously got rejected from Weir House

    Just another crazy lefty student politician out to make a name for himself by doing and saying stupid shit to get attention.

    Shame on him tho, even his own fellow student politicians are shunning him.

    Fail.

  32. bob S says:

    Eva Simms=James Sleep?

  33. bob j says:

    @bob S – yes, most likely.

    Who else would defend him that much? He’s not well liked.

  34. Alpha says:

    One person complained.

    Everybody else did not.

    There’s no hearings for people who think the article was inoffensive/correct. Why the fuck do we have to listen to a single person from Whiner House?

  35. Bravo says:

    Lol. I cannot believe how sensationalised this is. It’s hillarious.

    Sleep was controversial, what the fuck do you expect? Good the fuck on him.

  36. Raptor says:

    I was going to comment again. But then I decided to shit my pants instead. Now I am sitting here with shit pants and James Sleep is still an idiot and VUWASS is still a shitty organisation and Salient is still a kick-ass hunk-a-spunk-a student magazine.

    If someone could please pass me a copy so I can clean out my pantaloons, that’d be great.

  37. Storms in teacups says:

    Agree with BB, they (VUWSA) are an Incorporated Society and thus of course have members (and a long constitution and a lot of bureaucratic internal processes and codes of conduct etc which come with the territory anywhere) and he made a comment about a sector of their members that could have caused offence (and was was subsequently complained to) and appropriate slap over the wrist with a wet bus ticket.

    The actual statement was not offensive, if someone who wasn’t an Exec member had made the comment in Salient it would have been ignored cause it would have been legitimate satire…

    Bit trivial but oh well, procedure has been followed, yawn…

  38. Shitkicker McGee says:

    wat u want 4 your birthday smackdown?

  39. YY says:

    Do we care? Salient publishes people being fuckwits all the time in their letters column. It’s such a huge fucking deal that a VUWSA member can act like a jackass like everyone else.

    I’ve always thought the professionalism and procedure in groups like this is completely overblown. I think a simple, “James Sleep, shut the fuck up.” would surely have sufficed, as opposed to pretending this is such a big deal.

  40. Janet J says:

    Okay so here goes- there’s a kind of double standard going on here, essentially they drum it into our heads that there is supposed to be free speech in media such as Salient- which is what James’ comments were, yet as soon as someone seems to say something which is WHOLEHEARTEDLY TRUE they get disparaged honestly dudes who gives a fuck! Student politics is bullshit as is!

    Go James

  41. Sam K says:

    I agree with Janet.

    Total double standard. I am just annoyed to come onto Salient to read up on things to find this silly reporter has once again posted the story in the same sensationalised way. She doesn’t get it that we just don’t give two shits.

    James was being controversial…I say good on him.

  42. Shitkicker McGee says:

    If you don’t give two shits why are you commenting on this article?! Knobface

  43. Michael says:

    @Shitkicker McGee:

    Lame……

    If we don’t comment on what we think is crap, then Salient will continue with poor journalism without any feedback.

  44. Journalism101 says:

    If they hadn’t reported on this then Salient wouldn’t be doing their job.

    What in this is “poor journalism”? The facts were reported. That’s their job. Just because you guys don’t like Weir doesn’t change the fact that this exec guy didn’t do his job in the way he should. It even says that he agreed it was misconduct.

  45. knobface says:

    perhaps sam k doesn’t give two shits about the comments james made, duh.

  46. Woh says:

    Perhaps Sam K is James???

  47. Clement McBigglewaddle says:

    Perhaps you are all pseudonyms of current and ex salient writers and student politicians. Shit!

  48. Cement McDiddlewaddle says:

    Then what does that make you?

  49. Clement McBigglewaddle says:

    ‘A concerned citizen’

  50. STICKY FINGERS says:

    Clement McBigglewaddle is the new Superior Mind!

  51. McB says:

    So, just curious, but how does a “concerned citizen” come to the conclusion that James is ‘unpopular’ with the VUWSA Exec? Not something I have noticied.

  52. Shitkicker says:

    Excuse me, but my argument is so powerful that it’s not necessary to talk about it

  53. smackdown says:

    hi clement im smackdown! :-)

  54. Sudeonym says:

    Laura and Nicola just posted under pseudonyms…

  55. Clement McBigglewaddle says:

    What, you mean ‘Shitkicker’ isn’t someones given name? The outrage.

    Hi Smackdown! :D

  56. Shitkicker says:

    Am I Nicola or Laura? I’m confused :(

  57. smackdown says:

    my name is nicola laura

  58. Nick Kelly says:

    Just saw this article. Frankly I thought James comment about rich students was pretty tame. Christ I said alot more (and got recieved at least as much back) during my time on the exec. Frankly if this breaches the VUWSA code of conduct, then the document is draconian and needs to be changed.

    Kia Kaha James – you are doing a good job!

    Nick Kelly

  59. richyrude says:

    I’m sorry, hating the rich is just part of being a common person, get used it.

  60. Nicola Wood says:

    I just happened to stumble upon this and saw “Clement Mc Bigglewaddle”‘s comment. I am so confused. What does “taking a leaf out my book” even mean? And who is this person?

    Oh well. Also, people shouldn’t write silly offensive things about people anyway, even if they’re NOT an elected representative.

  61. Nicola Wood says:

    Oh and hi I’m Nicola. I don’t believe in pseudonyms.

  62. Laura McQuillan says:

    Hey Nicola, I think Clement meant Nicola Kean?
    Respect.

  63. Nicola Wood says:

    Ah thanks that makes sense. Cheers!

  64. Santi says:

    Mr. Sleep is out of line and should apologise unreservedly. His communist and socialist tendencies betrayed him long ago.

  65. smackdown says:

    santi is santa’s mean older sister

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