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VUWSA submits on Council composition
After a somewhat drawn out consultation process and more Salient coverage than you can shake a stick at, VUWSA submitted its official recommendations for the future make-up of the University Council.
The University Council will be reduced from 19 seats to a maximum of 12 by the end of 2015 as a result of government legislation passed earlier this year.
VUWSA commended the Council for “sparking a conversation about university governance” and made some of the following suggestions based on consultations held with students in person and 1,004 online survey responses.
Students: VUWSA recommended that two of the seats be put aside for student representation, one being a VUWSA Executive nominee in consultation with Ngai Tauira, Pasifika Students’ Council and the Post-Graduate Students’ Association.
Almost 60 per cent of students surveyed were in favour of two seats, while less than 19 per cent felt there should be less than two.
The submission claimed students are in a “unique position” to present dissenting views to Council “without pressure from upper management or a similar hierarchy”.
71.14 per cent of students surveyed felt the VUWSA President or one of the Vice Presidents should act as a representative on the Council.
Terms: VUWSA suggested that student reps have two-year terms that overlap in order to ensure student positions were “more productive” and to “improve the effectiveness of Council operations”.
Gender: It was found that the Council should prioritise gender equality in its composition, with VUWSA and the VUWSA women’s group claiming the the University “should do its utmost to shatter the glass ceiling”. Two-thirds of students surveyed also maintained that gender equity was a priority.
Consultation: The Council was encouraged to establish consultation processes that engage with specific communities including Māori, Pasifika, postgraduates, LGBTQIA, mature students and students with disabilities.
Additionally, there was a number of online responses from students who felt disconnected from the Council’s processes and who were concerned over University management “ignoring student concerns and their under-valuing of students and their difficulties in this era”.
Another student claimed that “the university is more concerned with running a ‘profitable business model’ than advancing students’ learning/involvement”.
Academics: VUWSA urged the Council to retain academic staff representation on the basis that it was “crucial that members of council understand the importance of academic freedom and institutional autonomy”.
Consultation on the body’s make up will continue until June, with changes to be confirmed for the 2016 Council elections.