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In the lead up to their annual elections, VUWSA hosted their Candidates Forum in the hub last week. The primary focus was the race for VUWSA presidency, with nominees Lars Thompson, Jacinta Gulasekharam, Rory Lenihan-Ikin, and Dayle Vavasour captivating the ever diminishing crowd (the pizza was long gone by this point).
Thompson spent his allotted speech time channeling his inner Bernie Sanders, speaking with passion, empathy, and many hand gestures. Thompson did however quickly lose the highly coveted and extremely respected media endorsement of Salient by throwing the magazine under the proverbial Metlink bus by accusing them of not turning up to enough executive meetings.
Gulasekharam, the only woman running for president, advocated her plan for subsidized hygiene products (tampons, pads, toilet paper, toothbrushes, and mooncups) and better representation of clubs by returning them to VUWSA’s control. Former VUWSA Treasurer and current Academic Vice President, Gulasekharam supports the Rental WoF, Fairer Fares, and Living Wage campaign, and called for a student advisory panel on fees.
Lenihan-Ikin, current Welfare Vice President, addressed his accomplishments so far including late night dinners and the fruit and vege market, and explained how he would expand on this as VUWSA President. He said “there is no reason why the university should not be a living wage employer,” pledged his advocacy for Fairer Fares, and strongly supported Thursdays in Black and more policy around sexual violence.
Outlier candidate Dayle Vavasour, also standing for multiple other positions, intrigued the audience by running on the platform of his apathy.
“What we need for a VUWSA that is truly representative is to have a voice that doesn’t care. I am genuinely apathetic. I have some opinions on some things but I don’t hold them too strongly,” he told the audience.
A hotly contested position, with four nominees, was the student representative on the Student Media Committee (SMC). Some of the nominees saw the role as an opportunity to hold student media “accountable for their actions.” Luckily current SMC rep and VUWSA Treasurer George Grainger (who is running for another term as treasurer) reminded candidates that the position is mostly just budget oversight, and they would have no editorial control over the magazine.