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June 6, 2017 | by  | in News Splash |
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Halls of Residence Roles to be Cut Under Proposal

A consultation document proposing changes to Student and Campus Living, including the disestablishment of a range of roles across VUW halls of residence, was released on May 24.

The roles which would cease to exist under the proposal are the of Heads of Hall for Weir House, Capital, Katharine Jermyn, Joan Stevens, Boulcott, and University Halls; Residential Life Managers, Office Administrators, Residential Advisors (RAs), and Kiwi Mates for University Hall; and a range of coordinator and supervisor positions within the Accommodation Services.

New proposed roles include three Hall General Managers, who would manage all halls and residential properties; an Associate Director of Student Living, who would provide leadership in the delivery of services; and a Senior Residential Life Manager, who would focus on supporting and developing Residential Life Managers and RAs.

The Director of VUW Student and Campus Living, Rainsforth Dix, told Salient, it is not appropriate to comment on this process while the document is out for consultation. […] It is a proposal at this stage and no decisions have been made.”

The consultation document sets out a process of consultation, deliberation, and decision making before affected employees would be advised of their status.

However Andrew Clarke, a RA at University Hall, told Salient that in a meeting on May 29 University Hall RAs, Heads of Hall, and Life Managers were told their contracts would be terminated on September 1.

The following day RAs were told that their contracts would be honoured until their end date in November, although the Heads of Hall and Life Advisors would have their contracts terminated on September 1.

“To me that shows this isn’t something they’ve really thought through,” Clarke told Salient, outlining the distress the uncertainty had caused for those staff members who would need to find new jobs and accommodation.

VUWSA President Rory Lenihan-Ikin was seeking discussion with VUW about the rationale behind the proposal. “The sheer scale of the changes proposed was cause for some shock.”

“Our key desire is to find out what students in halls think of the changes, and how they will be affected. We will be having lots of discussions over the next week to establish a position that reflects the best interests of students.”

Clarke was concerned that the proposed changes would devalue the hall experience, particularly as the changes would occur during the second semester, disrupting existing residents.

An anonymous VUW student told Salient that, on announcing the changes, Dix was met with backlash. “She had no idea of the kaitiakitanga or whanau environment that has been created within the staff in the Halls. [Staff] stood firmly by the invaluable difference that their Heads of Halls make in their daily jobs to keep their residents safe, ensure they foster environments to grow and learn, and socialise positively.”

Clarke was told that the incoming staff at University Hall, who would begin in September, would not provide the pastoral care that Heads of Halls or Life Advisors did. “They said they did a survey and found students weren’t interested in pastoral care in terms of VUW accommodation. All they wanted was a place to live.”

“I think in terms of the housing crisis, that is how a lot of students feel. But it’s essentially the same as asking someone who is starving and thirsty, do you want food or water? They’re going to choose water, but not because they don’t need food.”

Clarke was concerned that University Hall would not be able to provide the experience incoming students would expect. “We will be getting a huge influx of international students from US and Asia, who have paid a lot of money, but won’t be getting that pastoral care and service that they expected.”

“To me, it doesn’t make sense it’s all about saving a few dollars, not about the students.”

 

Submissions on this consultation document can be made to Karen McEwan, Human Resources Manager: Karen.mcewan@vuw.ac.nz. Submissions should be received by 12.00pm June 16.

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