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September 23, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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The McCourt Report

Democracy: the most sacred of ‘racies.

I am oft seen as gushing at democratic events. Whether it’s an Annual General Meeting or a sneaky SGM, in this role you grow to love seeing people getting involved and making their voices heard; each having an undeniable and equal say in how we should organise our collective lives. For 12 short months, the VUWSA President adopts democracy, and loves it so.

So here’s a brief foray into upcoming democratic highlights, but first a low light:

“Ballot Box-gate”:

As you might have seen in the media, and here in Salient, the Wellington City Council has reversed their decision to allow ballot boxes on campus. They say it’s to be consistent with the principles of the Local Electoral Act, and to be fair to candidates, but we know the truth—certain candidates have complained.

We were absolutely gutted to think that anyone, let alone a contender for Mayor, would get grouchy at students expressing their democratic right on campus. The boxes are simply postal boxes that are secure, monitored and regularly collected by the Council.

I don’t buy the claim that students were given preference by having these boxes. Sure it made it easier to drop off your papers, but if proximity to a postal box is “privileged” as John Morrison has claimed, I hope they ban all the posties from voting. In fact, if you live within 100 meters of a postal box, you should be banned. That’s the logical conclusion of John’s argument.

Lols aside, I am disappointed in him. We engaged early on with John’s campaign. I was at his launch. We discussed healthier homes and fairer fares. I felt like we were getting somewhere with him. But I guess this whole event has shown how he regards democracy—VUWSA’s most sacred of ‘racies.

At the end of the day, it comes down to whether someone thinks more young people voting is good, or bad. John made the wrong call. Instead of making the effort to come up to campus and meet students, he intends to make it harder for us to access democracy. That’s pretty shitty.

John claims this was all just a big misunderstanding. That he meant for more boxes to be distributed, not less. If that’s true, which is highly unlikely given the actions of the WCC Elections Office on his complaint, then he should release any and all correspondence he has had with that office. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and John’s campaign could do with a shower of it right now.

Vic Mayoral Debate AND Special Voting!:

Come along on Wednesday 25 September at 1 pm to the Hub and delight in the revelry that is the first Vic Mayoral Debate—a chance to watch candidates do battle over public transport, housing, graduate opportunities and Wellington’s future. You’ll have a chance to ask your own questions and hear the responses of the six mayoral candidates.

But wait, there’s more! Then you can cast a special vote, no matter if you haven’t got your paper ballot with you, or whether you’re enrolled to vote. For example, I didn’t get a chance to update my details, so I’m registered in Gisborne at Mum’s house. I can turn up on Wednesday and register and vote all at once, provided I front up with my photo ID and proof of address. It’s easy as! So give it a go, and make sure you vote your vision for Wellington. I know I’ll be voting for healthier homes and fairer fares— which are supported by many of the candidates!

Hey, why don’t you run for VUWSA?

You know you want to! If you’ve been interested in what me and my team do to serve students, now is your chance to get involved. It’s quick and easy to complete a nomination form at our office, for any of these positions:

– President
– Academic Vice-President
– Welfare Vice-President
– Vice-President

– Treasurer-Secretary
– Education Officer
– Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer
– Equity Officer
– Clubs and Activities Officer
– Campaigns Officer
– Publications Committee Representative

The VPs are paid 20-hour positions, and the officers all receive a $2000 honorarium. The President is a full-time role (although I always work 55-60 hours a week).

I can honestly say that VUWSA has been one of the most fantastic experiences I’ve had. Make no mistake, it is hard. At times it is challenging, but it is also rewarding—and it is in student politics that you’ll meet friends for life. What better way to grow and develop as a person, an advocate and a leader than with your own students’ association?

Also: there is free printing.

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