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July 15, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Student Politics: Holiday Update (!)

UNIVERSITY MORE DEMOCRATIC THAN VUWSA, FOR ONCE

University Council has finally decided to hold a by-election to bring a second student on to Council, solving Student Forum’s failure to bring a Chair to the table.

The Council statute allows for two students to sit on the University’s governing body, but one has been empty for 2013 due to the collapse of the Student Forum earlier this year.

Meanwhile, in the Student Union Building, VUWSA is likely to decide against holding a by-election for the annual mid-winter Executive member shedding. This year’s drop-out rate stands at one, lower than previous years, with Vice-President (Welfare) Simon Tapp resigning from his position during the holidays to take up Greener pastures.

Tapp’s career in student politics began with scandal when he was taken into police custody outside the Big Kumara during post-election celebrations late last year. Tapp was arrested after trying to intervene as an officer questioned unsuccessful presidential candidate Jackson Freeman.

Rick Zwaan was co-opted into the Vice-President position at a meeting of the VUWSA Executive, but it remains unclear as to whether a by-election will be held. While President Rory McCourt was overseas, the Executive and Acting President, Vice-President (Academic) Sonya Clark, voted against holding a by-election due to timing and the financial cost of running one.

Since his return, McCourt has indicated the formal decision was not concrete. “I’ve spoken to some of the Executive and there is a feeling that further discussion ought to take place. I can understand that,” he said.

“The Executive has had some initial discussions, and I expect those to conclude at the Exec meeting this week to finalise things. Whatever process we settle on, we have to make sure it fits in with what will be a busy trimester with University Council and VUWSA General Elections for 2014.”

McCourt will be standing in the University Council by-election for the seat that has been empty for 2013 due to the demise of the Student Forum. Provisions allowed for the Council to co-opt a student to ensure there are still two students on Council, but due to several bridges being burned following VUWSA’s withdrawal from the Forum, McCourt was not offered the same invite that his predecessor Bridie Hood received last year. The Executive endorsed McCourt’s candidacy at a meeting last week.

The only student on University Council, Student Representative David Alsop, was glad of the Council’s decision. “It’s great to see that a solution has been found, and I look forward to being joined by another student on Council in the near future.”

The Forum was an initiative by Management to restructure the student voice at Victoria, in an attempt to adapt to the new legislative environment post-VSM. Last month, NZUSA released a legal opinion which countered the assumptions implied in documents presented to University Council. Salient will have further details on this in future.

 

STUDENT WORKING PARTY: ONE OF THREE PRESENT

The University will be going out to consultation on student representation as part of its review of the Student Forum next week.

Following the well-intentioned, but ultimately clusterfuck of a Student Forum, Management appears to have taken a hands-off approach, leaving the student groups to sort it out among themselves. This is a complete turn-around on the process that gave birth to the Forum, which saw VUWSA explain why it wouldn’t work multiple times, but Management never addressing their concerns.

The Student Working Party was charged with addressing the concerns amongst student groups of how Management had re-structured the student voice following VSM, and given the opportunity to come up with possible solutions. Salient was fortunate enough to be granted front-row seats to what has turned into round after round of VUWSA versus the PGSA. The two groups, weighing in at 14,800 and ~100 students respectfully, have certainly had the most to say, and the most to lose, from whatever eventuates. Head to salient.org.nz for full coverage of the showdown.

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