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May 3, 2015 | by  | in News |
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Eye On Exec

This column may or may not be commercially sensitive; you’ll have to check with Rick

The meeting got off to an inauspicious start. Salient turned up at precisely 6:00pm only for Equity Officer Chennoah to immediately tell this reporter to bugger right off, as the Exec were still in a meeting with University big-hitters including the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor. Salient was forced to wait outside with the VUWSA Secretary for a full half hour—just gonna say it, that’s a bit bloody rude—and the pair, both Otago alumni, whiled away the time talking about how this would never happen at OUSA (partly because the OUSA Executive is little more than a social clique and no Chancellor worth their salt would bother meeting with them for any longer than absolutely necessary).

By the time the bigwigs departed and the meeting finally began, the normally perky Exec were understandably grim and floppy. Treasurer-Secretary Jacinta kicked things off by announcing she’s actually a lizard, and the meeting ground itself into existence.

VUWSA has now purchased its new van. In “wow, that really shouldn’t be the General Manager’s job, WTF” news, it was announced that the VUWSA General Manager had personally driven the new van down from Auckland. One execcie triumphantly pointed out to Salient that VUWSA were no longer “vanless losers”, as this column had previously alleged, and Salient charitably reminded the Exec that the addition of a van just makes them regular losers. Jacinta reminded Salient that it had not been given speaking rights, a classic lizard move.

President Rick then got his fortnightly fix of hot closed-session action, and moved the meeting into committee of the whole “for reasons of commercial sensitivity”. Salient has already banged on about this a lot this year, but it really is getting ridiculous. We’re not sure if Rick doesn’t know what “commercially sensitive” means, if he’s just stubborn, or if the voices in his head start singing “time for committee” at least once every meeting. We don’t know. The best excuse his loyal execcies could come up with after the meeting was that “Sonya [last year’s President] did it way more”. Cool, and I bet Hitler did, too. Checkmate, atheists.

Anyway, Rick (pointlessly) moved into committee to discuss a brief he’d prepared on upgrading the VUWSA website, a brief which he then (pointlessly) embargoed. The reasons he gave for the brief being commercially sensitive were that:

  1. the brief would give potential bidders vital information about VUWSA’s website needs, undermining VUWSA’s bargaining position; and
  2. if the brief became public it would give bidders who saw it extra time to prepare a tender, giving those bidders an unfair advantage.

Both of these rationales were trumped up:

  1. the brief contained no information that could actually undermine VUWSA’s bargaining position (e.g. the amount VUWSA has budgeted for the upgrades). It did contain information about VUWSA’s website needs and its proposed tender process, but prospective bidders will ultimately need to know about these anyway; and
  2. publicly available information is just that: publicly available. Being able to access it isn’t an “unfair advantage”—this makes no sense whatsoever. Besides, releasing the information early just gives bidders more time to prepare, which is surely a good thing because it will result in stronger bids.

Technically Rick is allowed to do this—section 5(a) of the Standing Orders in the VUWSA Constitution states “At any time the meeting may resolve itself into a committee of the whole. Except for motions which are carried the proceedings of the committee of the whole shall not be reported or recorded.”* The Exec don’t even need to give a reason for moving into committee—Rick just does that because Salient likes to whinge. The point is, though, misusing it and citing made-up reasons is bad form.

ANYWAY. Campaigns Officer Nathaniel presented VUWSA’s consultation document on the upcoming changes to University Council. This document outlines how VUWSA will go about developing the official stance it will take to the University. Rick then subtly dissed the University’s student consultation forums on the changes. The University has decided that the forums will be run by the University alone, so Rick believes it is important for VUWSA to run its own forums. The subtext here is that VUWSA doesn’t trust the University to undertake a genuine process, and thinks that the terms of reference the University has set for the forums are vague and unhelpful.

Naughty Rory then revealed he was in discussions with the University and theatre students to bring back the Capping Revue. The Revue—an annual skit show produced by Victoria students—was a regular fixture for decades until it ran out of funding and was scrapped sometime in the nineties. Revues have continued at other New Zealand universities, notably at Otago, where the Capping Show runs for ten days every year and brings in audiences of thousands. Rory has the University’s backing, and an agreement in principle to hire out the Memorial Theatre. See next week’s Salient for further coverage on this (potentially very cool) development.

Academic Vice President Jonathan then reported on Academic Board, which he diplomatically described as an “interesting experience”, before dispensing with diplomacy altogether and ripping the Uni out. Salient is covering this story elsewhere, so we’ll restrict ourselves to the saltiest remarks:

  • Jono said two of the Engineering School’s new Masters programmes that were approved at the meeting were about meeting “Government demand, not student demand”.
  • Jono basically accused Prof Dale Carnegie of the School of Engineering and Computer Science of lying to Academic Board, giving bogus answers to VUWSA’s questions and counting on VUWSA being unable to debunk the answers on the spot.
  • Jono claimed other members of Academic Board had been told by higher-ups to toe the party line, and that several had approached them after the meeting to privately express their sympathy with VUWSA’s position. (Salient is unable to verify this.)
  • Nathaniel asked whether Academic Board was “basically a bureaucratic clusterfuck with everyone patting each other on the back”. Jono and Rick didn’t disagree.

A few more things happened but let’s face it, you probably stopped reading ages ago.


*Jesus, what has my life come to?

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