Last night I wandered on in to VUWSA’s weekly Exec meeting. Besides the large plate of chips and similarly large plate of carrots cheese and capsicum, the most important issue to arise was VUWSA’s rebudget. Administration Vice-President Alexander Neilson handed out a sheet with proposed cuts to a number of departments within VUWSA’s $1.5m budget. These cuts are due to the reduced funds available from students’ levies, due in turn to a slight fall in student numbers. However, as we haven’t had time to digest the proposed changes, discussion of the rebudget has been deferred until next week, and since nothing has been finalised the figures are too confidential to report more about for now.
Spike, VUWSA’s in-house IT support dude, turned up to speak about this week’s other important piece of business: the possibility for VUWSA’s computers to rejoin VUW ITS’s central intranet. Back in 2004, ITS decided they no longer wanted to support VUWSA as part of the university network, and decided to charge VUWSA $90,000 simply for the cost of support and maintenance. As Spike noted, ITS had already been giving VUWSA a low priority, which meant that whenever something went wrong with VUWSA’s email accounts or intranet link, ITS would wait several days before attempting to fix things. So we decided to set up our own network, paying high commercial rates through outside providers.
However, VUW now want VUWSA to rejoin the network without the support charge they had formerly demanded. Spike noted that this would save VUWSA the $80,000 we currently spend on our own network each year. However, he noted that going on to this network would mean that he would no longer be able to intervene when something went wrong; we would have to rely upon ITS once again to take several days when something goes bung. Furthermore, ITS’ content filters would restrict Salient’s ability to research porn, and the vbc would probably not be able to stream online via ITS’ network. Campaigns Officer Sonny Thomas noted that going back to the uni network would give VUW management the power to shut down our emails and website during protest action, and Neilson noted that if the server crashed on a Thursday night when Salient sends its weekly PDF file to the printers, we would no-longer simply be able to call Spike to fix things – meaning we would not be able to get the magazine printed by Monday.
Education Officer Stefan Tyler and Welfare VP Melissa Barnard suggested that if VUWSA could get VUW and ITS to sign a contract promising not to interfere with our internet usage, then VUWSA could sue them if they tried anything sneaky. However, Neilson pointed out that it would be better never to have to sue them in the first place, although Education VP Rev. Paul Danger Brown noted that the spare $80,000 could be used to set up an emergency back-up system, possibly using the on-campus wireless access. Queer Officer Rachael Wright argued that we could use carrier pigeons as a back-up, and although President Joel Cosgrove tried to argue that we had never used pigeons, Spike pointed out that VUWSA does already have pigeon-hole infrastructure in its mail room which could be rolled into use as soon as some pigeons were brought. However, what the Exec eventually decided to do was set up a working party consisting of Joel, Spike, Dusty the Activities Monkey, Paul and Sonny (who was appointed in his absence, muahaha).
Spike then spent some time discussing the possibility of creating a VUWSA database to help with the class rep system and other databasey things. Rev. Paul Danger Brown chimed in with a declaration that databases relating to the class rep system are one of his major lifetime goals, and it was decided to use the same working party to decide what to do. Possibly by investigating Massey Albany’s database system, which is apparently sweet and provides (according to Brown) an excuse for staying at Auckland’s Sky City, though Cosgrove questioned whether the $25 per night VUWSA would be willing to fork out for accommodation would actually pay for a room at such a nice hotel. Spike then also noted that both Salient and VUWSA’s Karori office need new printers, which the Exec duly agreed to pay for (at which point I went “YUSSSSSS!”).
We then turned to the less important stuff: a request from a charity group for $250 to send five disabled kids to some entertainment; a request from VUWSA’s receptionist Carey for a lockable cabinet in which to keep his things – Wright said she’d give him her locker, then the Exec went into committee for a bit; a discussion about attending an NZUSA conference in Dunedin in October to elect a new NZUSA president; and requests from the Sailing, Hockey, Football and Flying Disc clubs for grants. Barnard asked everyone to agree not to hold meetings in the Union office or anywhere other than the VUWSA meeting room in future, due to last week’s meeting being “hijacked”. Cosgrove presented his President’s Report which was unanimously passed, although Wright questioned whether it was really a month’s work, and Brown noted that the entire Exec had been lax in their reports.
I was briefly given speaking rights to inform the Exec that the police told me they want to form a closer working relationship with students. Finally, Neilson noted that the proposed date of VUWSA’s AGM would have to be pushed back to 24 September so that Salient can print a request for people to send in proposed constitutional amendments, which must be lodged at least 14 days before the AGM. As the meeting broke up, Barnard talked about Katherine Mansfield and what it’s like to study four papers and work 20 hours a week besides being on VUWSA, and Wright talked about dominatrix training. The meeting took just over an hour.