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August 9, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Eye on Exec

If you ever go to an exec meeting, you’ll come across a work report. Work reports are the way that members of the executive are held accountable for time spent in the office, and, at the most basic level, get paid. They are common practice for people who are self-employed or do work on a contract basis, allowing the end recipient of the goods or service to see a justification of their expense. The reports (or lack thereof) are a very easy target for Salient writers, as they represent the VUWSA bureaucracy and where everyone’s money actually is in an accessible manner. They’re especially easy to pick holes in when someone fails to submit one or formats it incorrectly.

This meeting was especially significant as executive bonuses were agreed on for individual members, taking into account their relative workload and responsibilities over the past one and a half trimesters. The half-yearly work report is obviously key to this, being a personally written record of the exec member’s last six months of achievements.

Which is why I can understand the meeting running for almost four hours. I’m told this isn’t as bad as during Jasmine Freemantle’s reign of terror, which apparently ran up to five with no bathroom breaks. At one point, Max Hardy spoke almost uninterrupted for upwards of 45 minutes—save Caitlin asking him to “summarise” at the twenty minute mark.

Again, I can understand this. It is no small effort to summarize every single thing you have been responsible for during the half-year running of an organisation representing the needs of now 20,000-plus students. My respect goes out to Bridie Hood, Caitlin Dunham, Seamus Brady, Max Hardy, Craig Carey and Zack Dorner (now with less beard) for their tremendous amount of hard work on various initiatives this year—and on their well deserved bonuses.

Their initiatives were outlined to me in tooth-grinding detail and served to greatly increase my respect for the members of the exec themselves. They don’t work for a whole bunch of money, and do everything from data entry to student advocacy. Not to mention being expected to manage events and activities that supplement their constitutional obligation.
A bonus is extra pay for good performance. There was only one member of the exec who said they “didn’t expect a bonus”. It’s hard to see this as a gesture of humility when it’s preceded by 25 minutes of explanation as to why James Sleep’s (late, poorly formatted) half-yearly work report wasn’t up to the standard of other executive members. In James’ 25 minutes, he outlined why it was unfair for him to do four hours of data entry per week, and generally implied that his own failings weren’t a result of his laziness/inability to manage time/lack of understanding of the concept of volunteering, but rather of the executive and the organisation.

This is ridiculous. You can’t come into a half-yearly meeting of the organisation you’ve been a part of for almost six months and level excuses for why you haven’t done your job—which is, by nature, ambiguous and designed for you to make your own—and expect other people to either fall over you making changes halfway through the year, or even worse, expect them to ignore the fact you’ve failed to meet your targets and goals.

The half-yearly work reports lasted almost three hours. As there was no meeting last week, two weeks of weekly work reports per member had to be summarised. Max had the brilliant idea to bookend his half-yearly report with his President’s Report. The rest of the meeting, including grant applications and the co-opting of a new Clubs Officer, took around 45 minutes. Masha Kupriyenko has returned to the role of Clubs Officer after filling it in 2009. Seamus forwarded the motion to co-opt her, which was seconded and carried by Caitlin and Max, citing her relative experience in and knowledge of the role as proof of her eligibility. Masha mentioned an interest in executing Fraser’s (tenuous) plans for Faith Week, and a repeat of last year’s Pulp Culture Expo as some of her goals for the second trimester.

A final draft of VUWSA’s Sustainability (previously Environmental) Policy, drafted by Zack, was presented and accepted in its current form. This is a fairly large (ideologically, at least) proposal for an an organisation to adopt, and it always astounds me how little time it takes for the executive to pass something that could, conceivably, affect someone’s future. It’s a pretty stark contrast to the amount of time which is spent making sure the organisation is as transparent and well reported as possible. It’s this level of transparency which makes three-plus hour meetings so tedious—but equally important. It’s too easy to forget that shit’s actually getting done.

At least we got pizza.

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About the Author ()

Lewis has been playing videogames since his family's PC Direct "workstation" in early 1996. He spends his spare time reading political blogs, working and welcoming complaints and suggestions.

Comments (3)

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  1. SJR says:

    is there a way for students to call for a by-election if they arent happy with someone serving in a paid role any longer?

  2. Raul says:

    Hardy spoke for 45 minutes straight? Who does he think he is? Fidel Castro?!

    I have to say though, good on the executive as a whole for the good work they are doing, and obviously slaving over. Even better, congratulations for not putting up with poor performance and disallowing Sleep his bonus.

  3. smackdown says:

    the lewis van den berg-show owns

    good work :-D

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