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October 2, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Campaigns Officer

Twenty eleven will be remembered as one of the most excruciating years for student associations. After almost two years of debate, ACT MP Heather Roy’s VSM bill is set to become law.

As I write this, the House is preparing to pass the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill through its third and final reading. Despite trenchant opposition from its critics, VSM has come to pass with barely a mutter or a murmur from the vast majority of students. What exactly this will mean for student politics in the years to come, I’m not sure.

But despite the pending doom, a surprising number of candidates opted to stand in the VUWSA general election last week. Although, as I write this, the rate of turnout is less than certain, early indications suggest it will probably be no less than in previous years. Civic engagement at Vic is not (quite) dead yet.

Still, it is worrying that almost a third of 18- to 24-year-olds are not yet enrolled to vote in the New Zealand General Election. I suspect apathy at the national level is inextricably linked to apathy on campus. Whereas once political rhetoric mobilised the masses, it seems to have the reverse effect these days.

Writing in Salient last week, Conrad Reyners argued that this insipid state of affairs could be attributed to the demise of ideology. We no longer see our political leaders as visionaries, he said; rather they have been reduced to mere managers of the status quo. What is needed, he reckons, is a resurgence of ideas. And it is difficult to disagree with him.

Historically, mind you, Kiwis have never had much time for theory or ideas. There is an exception to this rule, though. The 19th century French observer of NZ politics Siegfried summed up the psychology of our policy/political elite well: ‘they have, like all men of action, a contempt of theories; yet they are often captured by the first theory which turns up, if it is demonstrated to them with an appearance of logic’. Never be afraid to disagree with ‘conventional wisdom’.

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Comments (3)

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  1. thejackel says:

    How about you use your column to tell us what sort of work you have done for VUWSA over the past few months?

    Oh thats right you gave basically done no work

  2. Josh got stuff done, he was undermined by others. He became an easy target.

  3. thejackel says:

    Oh bullshit, he has just been completely lazy. Explain this:

    “Brady sent his apologies for not attending, but Campaigns Officer Josh Van Veen was MIA. He also failed to submit a work report, to which the exec pointed out is the fourth or fifth consecutive time. JVV has not done anything for over a month, but, it was pointed out, he has not been paid.”

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