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October 14, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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The McCourt Report

Well, here we are. The final Salient in 2013. By now, you’ve seen the ins and outs of university life, your students’ association, and my nipples, through these pages. You’ve hopefully shared with us the ups and downs of being at Victoria and saw how hard we tried to make it a better place in 2013.

Is this year half what I expected it to be? Yes and no. Yes, I expected it to be hard and challenging leading VUWSA through its second year of the confusing underfunded environment that is VSM. No, I didn’t expect it to be this hard and challenging! Or as all-consuming. I think this is the kind of job that you think about putting your life on hold for a year to serve others, and friends, free time and relationships just have to take a back-seat. I never found a good balance: but then I’m the kind of person who would hate not getting the most out of this awesome opportunity. Long hours and little sleep, that’s just me. I know it’s been a choice, and I know it’s been a pleasure working my fantastic Exec to serve you until we had no energy left to give.

I want to thank Sonya, Rick and Mica for being a real moral support throughout the year. We had some pretty big battles over the Student Forum, student representation, the transparency of the Levy-setting process and less, err, important issues. Through it all, this team, including often the wider Exec, kept each other reinforced about why we were here and what we were doing to make Vic a better place to be a student.

I thank my Exec. Including Gemma who left us partway through the year, for her spritely enthusiasm, and Rāwinia, for her injection of positivity at a time when the rest of us were pretty emotionally exhausted. Ramon, for his reliability and sense of humour. Harry for his exclamation marks and perceptive political skills. Jordan for his loveable right-wingedness that really wasn’t, and the sacrifice Sam made so he could spend time counting the treasure. Matt, for his cool, consistent reasonableness and connection to real life, when the rest of us descended into VUWSA bubblemania. Rick, for his hard work and passion for the boring bits—a crucial part of our success this year. Mica for her undisputed knowledge of what was trendy, and what students actually wanted (and her bloody hard work to get it). Finally, Sonya, for believing in me when it felt like every University manager and their dog was against me and our association.

I do, also, want to thank those managers who backed us throughout. To the wonderful Pam Thorburn, whose life we haven’t made easy, and who is known to tell me she isn’t speaking to me in a joking/not joking way after I’ve screwed something up, but always with good heart. To Jenny Bentley, who I’ve learnt a lot from this year, even though we’ve disagreed over some stuff. To Karen Davis, Rachel Anderson-Smith, Gerard Hoffman, Catherine Nelson, Gary Brown, Jan Stewart, Karl Whalen, Marie Cocker and your services staff for being awesome and making it easy for us to improve what we do for students at Vic.

The Associate Deans and the Academic Office have been outstanding to work with. They’re like academic rockstars who protect university as a place where knowledge and academic success is valued and encouraged. Kathryn Sutherland, Colin Jeffcoat, Shona de Sain, Jenny Christie, Gordon Stewart, David Crabbe and Martin Boswell taught me that working in a large bureaucracy didn’t mean forgoing your principles, your fight or your courage. They might not have known it, but they kept the passion alive in us in the darkest of times this year, the little voice that said: speak up, it’s not right.

Sandra Grey from the TEU and Alistair Shaw from NZUSA were other such voices that helped to confirm that we weren’t in fact going mad to question the Forum and the place of VUWSA in a post-VSM university environment. We leant on them quite a bit during the rough period, and built really strong partnerships.

I also want to thank the hundreds of students who worked hard to make this year happen: the class reps, faculty delegates and leaders of clubs, societies and rep groups who slogged away so Vic could be a little better. Can-Do, the Pasifika Students’ Council and the Science Society stand out as three particular student groups who really grew and flourished this year. Every win for them felt like a win for us. From using the new Hub space, to getting funding from Vic: those small wins helped remind us why we’re in this and that there’s a community here to support.

Thanks to my flatmates Tim and Reed for keeping me grounded and advising me when shit got crazy. To my friends Liam, Phillipa, Ruby, Alex and Jody for giving me some semblance of a social life at the end of those 60-hour weeks. And of course thanks to Molly, Stella and the team at Salient. Without their support and encouragement to make VUWSA relevant and exciting, we wouldn’t have got half as much done. I’m so proud of what you guys achieved. This is the best student magazine in New Zealand. Fuck the Critic(s).

Dad likes to describe my job as professional shitstirring. I think it’s slightly more collaborative than that, but not much more glamorous. I’m proud of what we did this year at VUWSA to raise the issues of bus fares, cold flats, StudyLink, campus safety and others to Vic, the Council and the Government. I think I’ve been a pretty good professional shitstirrer. I’ve been proud to stand up and have a go on your behalf when the odds were against us, and the world didn’t give a fuck at first.

I’ve been proud to serve you. Thanks for the opportunity. All the best to Sonya and the babyexec of 2014. It’s worth it.

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