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March 11, 2013 | by  | in News |
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University Council has Unexpected Changes

White male student replaced by white male student

Mimicking Labour Party leadership contest trends, the candidates for student Representative on University Council, of which 50 per cent were called David, were beaten by one of the Davids. 5th year BA and BCom student David Aslop proved victorious in the first election of a student representative to University Council run by the University instead of VUWSA.

Alsop beat out 2013 vUWSA President Rory McCourt, David Rektorys and Darren Zhang. McCourt, who pre-voluntary Student Membership would have been guaranteed a seat on the Council, ran as the University interpreted the legislation to mean VUWSA was not entitled to a seat.

1506 students, or 8.51 per cent, voted in the preferential STV election, far less than the 2844 students who voted in VUWSA’s representative election in the same year.

1. Why did you stand for University Council?

To do some good! A less cliché-y answer would be that after a bit of thought and consulting some knowledgeable people, I felt I had the skills to work well in the environment of the Council. I also consider myself more of a pragmatist than an ideologue or party hack, which I feel is an important characteristic for a role where you must try to speak on behalf of all students, not just a certain segment.

2. What is your role within the University Council?

Broadly speaking, the job of all council members is to ensure the University is governed well, and to act in the best interests of the University. As the student representative, my role is the same, with the key difference being that I ensure a student voice is present in all decisions of Council. In practice, this means reading a lot of rather dry papers. And occasionally speaking.

3. What do you hope to achieve during your reign?

The nature of the University Council is that most of the time you’re reacting to events, rather than setting the agenda and pursuing a specific path. This means that promising big flashy changes is a bit unrealistic. Therefore my goals sound a bit more mundane – I hope to ensure that students’ are respected as an equal partner in the University community and that they continue to have a seat at the table for all big decisions that arise. The value of having student voices and votes at times like these (e.g. selection of a new VC) should not be underestimated.



Older white male takes another university position

Pro-Chancellor helen Sutch, the Chancellor’s deputy, was ousted from her role as second in command at the annual election within University Council late last year.

Chartered accountant Graeme Mitchell, who was co-opted onto the University’s governing body, narrowly beat Sutch who sits on the Council as one of four graduates elected by victoria alumni in the Court of Convocation. Individuals who have been involved with
University processes for a long time have told Salient that they believe Sutch lost her position as punishment for her decision to vote against the proposed 8 per cent fee rise in Education, Social Sciences and humanities courses.
Such fee rise was later rejected by the Tertiary Education Commission, which Salient will be covering next week. 2012 VUWSA President Bridie hood said Sutch was often a “moral compass” on the University Council. “Helen is a formidable force on Council and she has contributed enormously in her role as Pro-Chancellor. She has shown a true dedication to Victoria, staff and students,” Hood said.
2011 VUWSA President, Seamus Brady also spoke highly of his experiences working with Sutch. “Helen’s been an incredible ally to students and a strong advocate on many issues like ensuring quality teaching and learning to improving equity at victoria,” Brady said.
“She gets the importance of students having a real voice—one that’s mandated by students, credible, valued, and independent within the Victoria and in the decisions that affect them. That can’t always be said for everyone at Victoria and are things which the [now established] Student Forum is struggling to achieve.” Chancellor Ian Mckinnon, who was re-elected to his position, said he “valued her time as Pro-Chancellor and the support that she’s given me.”

“[She was an] extraordinarily capable member of Council, who always had a good grasp of issues, looking deeply into them,” Mckinnon told Salient. Sutch, who was on the VUWSA Executive in the 60s, said she was “honoured” to be made a life member of VUWSA in 2011, and was “something that means a lot to me.”

1. During your time as Pro Chancellor, what did you enjoy the most?
On the ceremonial side, it was definitely the Graduation parade along streets lined with joyful family and friends, and the Graduation
ceremonies themselves with the opportunity they gave to congratulate the new graduates and experience the warmth and happiness of
the occasion. On the work side, I am still on Council, but the benefit of being Pro-Chancellor was the regular discussions with the chancellor on strategic issues, and my participation on all Council committees including Te Aka Matua, Council’s Maori Advisory Committee. This gave me a lot of insight into all the issues both positive and negative that the University faces.

2. Do you think that women are better represented within victoria University now than they were when you were a student on the
vUWSA Executive?
Yes. When I was on Exec, the women members were expected to withdraw and make tea for the chaps while the discussion continued
without us. Cathy Benefield and I managed to stop that. The position of women on Exec has clearly improved, as shown for instance by last year’s Student President who made a valuable contribution at Council meetings. Within the University, efforts have been made to help women academics advance but they are still a minority at senior levels, and women are also under-represented at senior levels among the general staff.
3. Why did you oppose the proposed 8% fee rise at University Council last year?
As I explained in the council meeting, I could not support the 8% fee rise in Education, Social Sciences and Humanities without some
assurance that financial support would be offered to talented students who might not otherwise be able to start or continue at Victoria—especially as there are probably more students from equity groups as defined by the University in those faculties. Also student allowances had already been restricted to four years equivalent study, which means it will be harder for some students at that level to continue their studies at master’s and doctorate level. The second reason is that recruiting or retaining high achieving students is also in the University’s interest—this is not pure altruism. This is why Harvard and Oxford, for instance, spend a great deal on financial
assistance—it enables them to attract and keep the best and the brightest.


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About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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