The time is upon us again. Student elections for the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) are on. If you’re passionate about making a real difference to students’ lives, this week is your chance to nominate yourself to be a part of your VUWSA Student Executive. I’ve been on the VUWSA Exec for two years now, starting last year as Clubs and Activities Officer, and continuing this year as Engagement Vice President. While each Exec position has its own portfolio, the experience of being an Exec member is fairly similar across the board. For those of you wanting a bit of insight into life as a VUWSA Executive member, read on.
To be an Exec member, you’ll need to be self-motivated, have good time management, and have a sense of the “student perspective” on a range of situations. Ultimately, though, being passionate about making student life awesome is the name of the game. As an Exec member, you have the freedom to work towards your big ideas for improving student life. Maybe you think that students want a more diverse O-Week lineup. Maybe you believe that students can be better informed about their academic rights if they can find that info in a pamphlet. Or maybe you think students deserve to have accessible microwaves on campus. If you strongly believe in making positive change for students, VUWSA can give you the opportunity to bring your vision to life.
Now for the reality check. To do all these amazing things, you’ll need to sit down and do some work. Here is a brief overview of the typical tasks of an Exec member.
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You’ll spend around one-third to half of your time on computer work. This includes email correspondence to organise meetings, give feedback on ideas, or promote or prepare for upcoming events. Computer work also involves writing ideas for new projects, writing press releases, and preparing submissions to the University. There’s also a moderate to large amount of reading, depending on your role. While computer work can get boring and overwhelming at times, it definitely helps that you’re surrounded by fun and supportive people to bounce ideas off of and make jokes with (or “banter”, if you insist).
You’ll attend fortnightly Exec meetings, where you’ll formally discuss strategic priorities (i.e. what VUWSA wants to work on) and give direction on VUWSA projects. You’ll also work in smaller teams within VUWSA, perhaps focussing on an aspect of Association governance (such as policies or finance), or organising an event or campaign, such as a Warmer Flats Forum or a Class Rep training session. Additionally, you might be the student voice on a University committee, standing up for students in the face of out-of-touch (or alternatively, refreshingly wise) University staff.
Events and campaigns
For most Exec members, events and campaigns are the highlight of VUWSA life. It is immensely satisfying to deliver something which students care about, such as the free breakfasts of Stress-Free Study Week or the epic music events of O-Week. With campaigns such as the push for democratic student representation on University Council, it is massively rewarding to see meaningful change after investing hours of time and energy. The moments where we get to celebrate students are fantastic too, through organising events like the Blues Awards for sporty superstars at Vic and the Student Representation Celebration for our volunteers.
If this all sounds like your cup of tea, run for the 2016 VUWSA Executive. Nominations are open now, but close this Friday, so pop in to the VUWSA Reception on the top floor of the Student Union Building (or visit vuwsa.org.nz/nominations/) to pick up a nomination form. Being on the VUWSA Executive is a life-changing opportunity to improve students’ lives, work alongside a fantastic bunch of enthusiastic staff and students, and gain valuable work experience and life skills. Don’t miss out!