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May 13, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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The McCourt Report

Fairer Fares: Hundreds of students share their stories at Forum

You might’ve seen the Hub was absolutely packed last Wednesday when over 200 students came to the VUWSA-organised event to share their stories about the cost of public transport. Students from Kapiti to the Hutt to Lyall Bay explained what it was like to face $140+-a-month travel bills, and how fairer fares could really help them get to University, part-time jobs and more. We heard about the tough choices many students are making, like only bussing one-way, and walking home. Sam Kearns, one of the students fronting our campaign, said she chooses carefully the days she comes to class at all, paying the $7.90 fare.

As your voice, we’ve been questioning whether it’s fair for high-school students—99 per cent of whom live at home and don’t face the costs university and polytech students face like rent, food and power—to be entitled to a 50 per cent discount, but not us. We think it should be extended, and the numbers suggest the move would not be very expensive.

The campaign has really been gaining momentum in the last few weeks, with three solid newsprint stories and a feature on TV ONE’s Seven Sharp. The Forum was a nice way to top off that positive week, and I’m looking forward to a couple more regional councillors coming on board with the mounting community support. In the last fortnight the Tertiary Education Union joined the campaign. We’re close to getting a majority, so VUWSA certainly won’t be backing down anytime soon. It’s our job to fight for a better deal for students.

 

Cold, shit flats: Time for a Rental WOF in Wellington

My landlord is insane. She’s nuts. She imposed a 10 pm noise curfew on us, and even took away our washing line during the week; not to mention the fact she’s hoarding her furniture through us. We have ten mirrors for three people! All of this flat shittery would be okay if I didn’t freeze every night there’s a cold wind passing through. But I do. And to be frank, for what we as students pay, it’s not good enough. Wet, cold and miserable flats should have no place in the Wellington rental market.

What we need is a rental warrant of fitness before landlords can rent out their otherwise derelict abodes to unsuspecting students. It’s an idea whose time has come, and there’s strong support from around Wellington. Securing a Healthy Home Bylaw across our city will be VUWSA’s second large-scale campaign this year, and I can’t wait for it to heat up! It’s our job to fight for a better deal for students.

 

Student Loans and Allowances: Here’s hoping the Budget backs students

Every year the Government decides what changes to revenue and spending it will make in the Budget. Budget 2012 was pretty crap for
students and student support. The National-ACT-Māori Party-United Future Government raised the repayment rate (percentage of income we pay back, on top of tax, when we graduate), as well as gutting student allowances for postgrad students. Treasury said the first move was stupid, and the Ministry of Social Development said the second one would actually lift benefit numbers! Anyway, the changes happened. Since then we’ve seen fewer postgrad students at Otago and Canterbury. The current Government holds the view that student support costs too much and must be reduced. Here’s hoping they see the incredible economic and social value that a more educated workforce can deliver for New Zealand’s future. Whether we want to be a little tech giant, or the best darned cow-milkers in the world; the fact remains that we need to produce more scientists, innovators and thinkers. Cutting student support restricts tertiary education to those whose parents can afford to send their kids off to uni. That means we, as a nation, could miss out on the brightest and best from low-income and middle-class homes. Tertiary education changes lives, but it also changes economies. Let’s give everyone the tools to be part of that transformation. We’ll be calling on the Government to back students in Budget 2013, released on Thursday. Why? Because it’s our job to fight for a better deal for students.

 

PS Thanks to all who came to Environment Week events. Especially to GenZero for organising Monday’s, love you guys!

xx
Rory Reagan

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