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May 14, 2018 | by  | in Editorial |
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Editor’s Letter

When I first found out on Twitter that the university is planning to change its name, I was confused. Was this a joke? Couple of news articles and a forum from Grant later, I was satisfied that this thing’s for real. For a while I was vaguely against the name change, without really knowing why. But I’ve thought about it a bit more, and I’ve decided: I’m fine with it.
Yeah, I hear your criticism. It’s another indication that profit is the uni’s primary incentive. We’re changing over 100 years of tradition. It’ll be confusing for the people who have graduated from “formerly Victoria University”. The names of the clubs will sound vaguely ridiculous.

 

But on the balance of things, we’re not getting much harm from this change. Look at Auckland Uni, closing down a whole bunch of libraries and restructuring their arts  degrees. Now that’s a worrying result of a university making decisions motivated by profit. A name change, I can live with.
The other question is, why would we be attached to “Victoria” as a name anyway? All it signifies is our history of colonisation. When I first heard the name, it was pretty meaningless for me. Any meaning I’ve gleaned from the word has come from associating it with the experiences I’ve had here. And the thing is, having used “Vic” so many times in reference to my place, my identity, I do feel connected with the word now, and to stop using it would feel like a loss. But that’d be different for the next generation of students. They could be proclaiming themselves “Wel” students, and feel the same sense of identity and connection. Or not. Who knows.
When I was thinking about studying here, I once or twice ended up on the website of the university in Canada, getting excited over degree options, before realising I was on completely the wrong track. A small thing, perhaps, but if I’d done it, others have too, and that might just be enough of a hassle to want to avoid.
Someone mentioned to me that this feels like distractionary politics, like John Key and the flag. I don’t think that’s the case here. “Distractionary” implies that if it weren’t for the discussion around which symbol we’re best represented by, we’d spend our time and energy thinking about the more significant policies and practices up for debate. But, would we? I feel that the people interested in letting fees, sexual violence prevention, student counselling wait times, payment for RAs, and whatever else is going on, will still be interested in those things despite the fluff going on around a name change. And the people who aren’t involved, still won’t be, name change or not. I feel like people get interested in name changes because a name represents us as a group, so each individual has a personal stake in it, and also names are pretty visible. But, fingers crossed the uni doesn’t have other big changes in the works, and is just waiting for the name-change furor to reach a peak before announcing it quietly.
Well um looks like I managed to get distracted for a solid 500 words. Happy graduation y’all who are graduating. Stay warm.

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