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May 27, 2013 | by  | in News |
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MGMT Don’t Care About the ‘Kids’

Victoria University has given up on the Student Forum, and are failing to do anything about the glaring lack of student representation left in its wake.

Last week’s meeting of the Forum, intended for the Tuesday, was cancelled a few hours before it was meant to be held. The email circulated to members suggested that the upcoming review of student representation made a meeting of the Forum redundant.

“As some of you will know, there is currently a review underway that is looking at student representation and consultation at Vic, and while the Forum will not be meeting, there will be opportunity for you all to participate in this review process.”

When the Student Forum was approved by University Council in 2011, it was required to undergo a review in 2013. A working group, comprised of various student representative groups and staff, is overseeing the review, and is co-chaired by University Council Student Representative David Alsop and Director of Student Academic Services, Pam Thorburn. Salient will have more information on the process and how students will be consulted next week.

Thorburn said the Forum meeting “was cancelled by the University after it became clear there would not be a quorum.”

As previously reported in Salient, VUWSA, Ngai Tauira and Pasifika Students’ Council have withdrawn from the Forum, taking with them their respective membership base of over 70 per cent of students. The International Students’ Council is all but non-existent at the moment, and with most Faculty Delegate positions not being taken up by students, only the Postgraduate Students’ Association hasn’t given up on the flummoxing concept.

Despite the University knowing of the numerous Forum withdrawals and the upcoming student representation review, they haven’t arranged any alternative processes to ensure the seats at University Council and Academic Board can be filled by student representatives. Such action Thorburn said “might appear to preempt the outcome of that review.”

When asked if the University was intending to establish an alternative process for appointing the student representative positions as an interim measure until the representation review changes are implemented, or if they would consider passing on the responsibilities to VUWSA, as an interim measure they said something without really saying anything.

“All of the questions appeared to us to be about the processes for student representation and therefore pertinent to the review that is currently in progress,” Thorburn said.

“That review is being carried out by a committee comprising both staff and students and has agreed timelines.”

Both Alsop and VUWSA President Rory McCourt have said the current lack of student representatives on various boards and committees and the University’s planning of no temporary arrangements is unsatisfactory.

“I am highly concerned with there being only one student member on the University Council, especially as we are heading towards the time of year when important issues such as fee-setting and the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor will be discussed,” Alsop said.

“Given that the Student Forum appears to no longer be meeting, it is apparent that the University Council must find a short-term, common-sense solution to this problem until the Representation Review is complete.”

McCourt has proposed that VUWSA, who up until 2012 appointed representatives to the Academic Board and whose President automatically had a seat on the University Council alongside the Student Representative, take over such responsibilities as an interim measure until the review’s recommendations are adopted.

“We believe the VUWSA President should be co-opted onto the University Council, as Bridie Hood was last year until we can be assured of a legitimate student representative system,” he said.

Hood, the VUWSA President in 2012, was co-opted onto the Council and made Chair of the Forum to steer it through its transition into existence.

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