We’ve interviewed each of the four candidates vying to be VUWSA President for 2017 about why they deserve your vote. They have answered the following three questions:
- What do you think qualifies you to be VUWSA President?
- What will you do for students in 2017?
- What are the biggest issues facing students today?
1). A president should engage with you guys and defend your interests. They should help you achieve your goals. They should lead by example. As president of the Politics Society I have experience leading an executive in an accountable and collaborative way. I am also a faculty delegate on the Humanities and Social Sciences Board and my understanding of how the university operates has helped me fight for your best interests. I’m friendly, energetic, and will bring fresh ideas to VUWSA.
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2). I want a ‘New Deal’ for students where VUWSA’s advocacy, communication, facilitation, and services are improved. This means: more campaigning and more support for the Living Wage @ Vic movement and Thursdays in Black; a cap on international student fees; more pizza and opportunities to vote on and propose Vuwsa policies; extended office hours at Pipitea and an extension of Community Pantry services to all students; free hot meals during peak assignment times; clubs and rep groups getting additional executive training including financial advice and upskilling; a forum for clubs to connect, collaborate, and vote on issues like their administration.
3). The biggest concerns are always around students’ mental, physical, and financial well-being. We should support campus services, Thursdays in Black, and the Living Wage movement as part of this. As a faculty delegate I can see that advocacy at the university has been a real issue. The university has pushed through policy decisions that will shorten our breaks in the future and outsource Foundation Studies courses to independent providers. These are not student friendly policies and as president I will ensure VUWSA pushes back before we see more decisions like these in the future.
1). I’ve spent two years on VUWSA as an officer and Welfare Vice President, so I have a solid understanding of how the organization runs, great relationships with student, university, and city leaders, and the ability to get things done. However it’s what I’ve actually done in those two years that really matters and I’m proud to think that I used my time effectively, having fought for better wages for students as part of the Living Wage Movement, Fairer Fares on public transport, decent housing, and a student community free from sexual violence.
2). Half price bus and train fares for students are within our reach and I’ve been quite clear about the fact that this is a massive priority for me. It’s long overdue, and getting it over the line will make a massive difference for almost all students. In terms of university issues, I also want to ensure that student course reviews are easily accessible so you can see what previous students thought of a paper before selecting it, and you can bet I’ll keep rolling out things that make your life easier like the fruit and vegetable market and microwaves in the hub.
3). Where to start? Terrible mental health, a lifetime of debt, an uncertain job market—the list goes on. Quite frankly, tertiary education in New Zealand is currently a mess and students are on the receiving end. I’m a strong believer in education and that if we give everyone the opportunity to do tertiary study there will be a net benefit for the country. There are of course issues that go beyond financial pressures. Sexual violence is a hidden epidemic in New Zealand and the university is no exception. As a student community we should to educate each other in order to lead the country in a better direction.
1). There is no one thing that “qualifies” any of us to represent our student body, other than that we are students. The more any of us argue for our qualifications, the more we prove ourselves to not be like other students. As the leader of our representative body we need to be as like other students as possible. What qualifies me to be VUWSA President is that I am a student. What qualifies me above the other candidates is that I lack everything they mentioned—I’m just like you.
2). In 2017 I will represent the actual majority of students: those who don’t really care what VUWSA gets up to. Every year, VUWSA only listens to those who are passionate and try to get involved. For a group meant to have our best interests at heart this is abhorrent and needs to be fixed. What “representing the majority” means is not that I will try to silence other voices, but I will ensure that our apathetic voice is given the weight it deserves in all of the association’s decision making.
3). There are many issues facing students today that I’m sure the other candidates are happily trying to convince you of. Those are not issues that students actually care about as their consequences are remote and abstract. The issue that directly faces students and regards our representative body is that VUWSA notices that we are disinterested in it, and tries to solve this by “engaging” us. (They even have two positions dedicated to this!) There needs to be greater recognition that political apathy is not something to be fixed, but a sincere response from people who’d rather just study.
1). As your Academic Vice President I’ve lead the education team to train 600 class reps, looked after 30 faculty delegates, brought back the Alternative Student Guide, and established online class rep training. I am the only candidate with an understanding of student representation across all faculties at Victoria. In 2015 as Treasurer, I organised VUWSA’s budget and understand how to best use student money. My year on the University Council has given me insight into Victoria’s plans for the future and I have another year left to represent your interests. I am ambitious, experienced, and ready to lead this organisation.
2). I plan to introduce gold coin sanitary items at every campus, student deals to Wellington events, and a monthly question time to the VUWSA executive. I’ll initiate a student advisory panel for fees setting and lead VUWSA getting clubs as student associations know students best. There will be continued support for the Living Wage, Fairer Fares, a Rental WOF, and Thursday In Black. I’ll run a rep and faculty group conference to connect and support these groups with leadership skills. Long-term outcomes include pursuing paying VUWSA officers minimum wage and pushing the Vice Chancellor to prioritise study space and purchase new buildings.
3). I like lists so I thought I’d put down my top ten issues the student body face: affordability of living in Wellington, student welfare, student debt, access to health services, mental health of students, quality of flats, susceptibility of students getting sick, careers and job prospects, teaching quality, student voice at VUW as well as at local and national government level. As president I will fight for quality education, expand our services, campaign for increased student health services, build relationships with the university to improve their own services, and lobby local body politicians to vote for fairer fares and a rental WOF.