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May 20, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Notes From the Fourth Estate

Budget day highlighted what a sorry state national student representation is in, with various students’ associations wanting to roll the
President of the National Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA), but coming up short when it came to finding a successor.

President Pete Hodkinson first won the candidacy of NZUSA in 2012, taking the reigns of it in the first year of Voluntary Student Membership. He was the first President from the polytech sector in a long time, with the role usually being tossed between ex-VUWSA and University of Auckland student presidents. NZUSA was restructured in 2011 to help cope with the reduced revenue that students’ associations were able to contribute without compulsory membership. This saw polytech students’ associations having more power, despite contributing significantly less financially than their university counterparts.

In the post-VSM environment, NZUSA performed… Well, how do you really judge the value or success of their performance in 2012? If you’re reading this and don’t know anything about them, probably pretty badly? And if you don’t know who the President is? Well, that’s probably forgivable. But what if at the end of your term as the main student advocate in New Zealand, the Minister of Tertiary Education didn’t know who you were when they met you at the Press-Gallery Christmas party? :/

When it came time to elect the President for 2013, it transpired to be not only a job that no one else wanted—but also a President no one wanted. In the first round of voting, Hodkinson lost to no-confidence. Following a tearful plea, and no doubt a ‘we can’t just not have a President’ discussion among the students’ associations, Hodkinson won the second round.

In an attempt to rectify NZUSA’s presence among students and the media, and mobilise its ‘student membership’, a central campaign committee was set up. VUWSA sits on this alongside AUSA and OUSA, and has budgeted to contribute $5000 on top of its annual $45,000 fee for NZUSA membership.

VUWSA President Rory McCourt frankly said the committee had achieved “to date, not a lot.” When asked whether students deserved better than that, he said “yes”.

Under the National Government’s watch there have been, and will continue to be, a number of drastic budget changes that affect students in a big way. If students want this situation to change, they need to let the Government know, but without a united and strong voice to stand behind, they’ll be drowned out by Joyce’s savvy press team.

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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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