2008, Uni has almost begun (except for Karori teaching students who started a month ago, but that’s quibbling). Some of you have been here before, read this before and some of you are new to this game. So welcome to you all.
My name’s Joel Cosgrove, I was elected last year (by 2500 odd of you) as President of the Victoria University of Wellington Students Association (VUWSA). VUWSA is the association that you guys are all part of, that acts as an independent body to advocates and provides services. Whether it’s free bread on Wednesday or Friday mornings, or University Games, there’s a broad and varied range of services that we provide to support students i.e. you in making your university existence (socially and academically) as good as possible.
Who am I? I’m 4 years (with 2 to go) into a 3 year B.A. in Media Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies. I’m a socialist (check out www.workersparty.org.nz if you want to try change the world as well), member of the Spanish and Latin American club and sometime debater. I got involved in student politics helping out at the Interpol and Shins gigs in 2005 as well as helping organise the big protest that wound its way to Parliament that year. I love working for students and that’s what’s kept me going (and you think about it sometimes on the $6 an hour that most of your hard working Executive get paid) and led to me sitting here with the deadline fast approaching.
Three big things are happening right now. First is Orientation second is the Campus Hub and the third is the issue of student debt.
One of the big mix ups is that people think that the week before class (18-22) is Ori. It’s not really. It’s more of a look around, guided tour, basic explanation of the rabbit warren that is Vic. Ori really starts from the 25th of February onwards. We’ve got some great acts, Supergroove, The Datsuns, Tiki, Ska-B-Q as well as some great events such as the double-decker bus pub crawl, Hangover Hangi and the Pipitea Clubs Carnival as well as way more. Check the Ori Bandwagon booklets all over campus as well as this Ori issue of Salient for more info. Email email@example.com if you’d like to get more up-to-date information as well as actual volunteering.
It’s generally acknowledged that the quad is a windswept wilderness, most probably it inspired the term “urban jungle”, I wouldn’t be surprised if students got cases of malaria or tetanus or what ever diseases it is that you get in the quad/urban jungle, but that’s about to change. The university is putting together a fair bit of money (from a poor students perspective at least) and VUWSA has built up the accumulated profits from Vic Books and the student building fund. The money is going towards improving and enlarging the student spaces on campus, making them work better, having more options for food and general retail, as well as setting aside more space for you guys to hang out and enjoy the sun or hide from the rain. The key point is that this is meant to be done for students. We’ve had a pretty extensive discussion with students, clubs and representation groups about what students at Vic want. There’ll be a fair bit more of this as the year goes on. Look out for plans on the Vic and VUWSA websites as well as information in the quad!
The Campus Hub is one milestone; student debt however is a millstone. NZUSA, the national student association (of which VUWSA is a member), as part of it’s Income and Expenditure survey, NZUSA surveyed over 7000 students at 17 institutions last year with some pretty worrying results.
From those 7000 students the average student loan was $15,265, the average overdraft was $2,164, credit card debt was $2,022, the stats go on. These are the current costs of education, this is the debt that many of us are burdened with or will be soon enough.
On so many levels this is unacceptable and we as students need to do something about it. In March student debt reaches 10 billion dollars, that’s 10,000,000,000 dollars that about 400,000 current and past students owe the government for the “privilege” to study. We’ll be adding another couple hundred million this year to that tally and VUWSA is not standing for it. Already education has been a point of heavy debate amongst politicians, with the issue of students not even being able to borrow enough each week to study full-time rearing its head as an issue all political parties have opposed to some degree. The I&E survey gives the average hours work for the students surveyed as being 14 hours a week, it’s only getting worse.
Reading this, does it piss you off? Make you want to make an end to student debt? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, cause we want to build something big this year…