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August 13, 2012 | by  | in News |
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VUWSA Exec On Trial


Every year Salient takes up the mantle of accountability and trawls deep through the oft opaque and deliberately vague documents that the VUWSA executive call their ‘half-year reports’. Comparing the reported efforts with our news staff’s observations throughout the year, we compiled the following evaluations. See below for the rating guidelines.

♥ Could be replaced with a pot plant with no decrease in efficiency.

♥♥ Underperforming in key areas. Somewhat disappointing.

♥♥♥ Performing their responsibilities to an acceptable standard.

♥♥♥♥ Fulfils responsibilities to a very high standard.

♥♥♥♥♥ Goes far beyond their job description. Provides something special. We can’t believe we gave out a five.



Hood is the first VUWSA President without the comfort of universal membership and compulsory revenue streams, running unopposed as no one else seemed brave enough to step up to the plate. She inherited a budget from 2011’s executive that didn’t account for the loss of its $2 million revenue streams, or the predictable uncertainty surrounding University service provision contracts. Leading an executive with no experience, she did well for VUWSA not to crumble. She has continued efforts of previous presidents to earn respect from the University, the new purse string holder, ensuring they have picked up the tab for most of VUWSA’s services. This has mostly come without undermining VUWSA’s independence, making a brief stand against the ill-consulted student forum. Though such financial relationships are uncertain next year, Hood’s efforts to improve VUWSA itself will endure long after she is gone. Fulfilling her election promise, she can take a lot of the credit for the results of the Governance Review, and become one of the few Presidents whose legacy is more than a year’s worth of Salient columns. Possibly more due to her personality, Hood has lead a culture change within the ivory towers, which will hopefully also remain. A far more open style of governance than the velvet-trimmed, iron-fisted ruling of her predecessor, has seen executive meetings being treated as a chance to openly discuss the big issues facing the association, rather than a chore. Of course there’s still room for improvement at VUWSA, but given the cards Hood was dealt she has done a near faultless job. Though she really should read Salient. 



Carrying on the good work of his predecessor (Hood), Wright has continued to build on VUWSA’s highly prized, and purportedly industry-leading class representation system. He has picked up the slack when staffing shortages caused delays in the education office and has prepared a number of submissions on education issues, providing a sound voice for students. He has been a positive influence on exec, contributing to the cultural shift of President Hood’s administration. He sits on a whole grab-bag of boards and committees, and is currently involved in deep consultation on microwave provision. Wright is a sharp wit, and no doubt one of the reasons why HMS Union remains on course despite heavy seas. 


The shamelessly ambitious Rory McCourt became acting Vice-President (Welfare) following the resignation of Ta’ase Vaoga in April, and won the office outright at the recent by-election. McCourt sits on a variety of University committees and boards, and has shown that he is willing to go the extra mile on issues, putting in a lot of over time. He has been the only executive member to actively challenge the Student Forum and question whether VUWSA is becoming a mere service provider to the University. Unfortunately, McCourt occasionally slips into politics, a habit he’d best overcome given he clearly sees himself on the Presidential throne in 2013.


The VUWSA Treasurer is put in a difficult position between the President and VUWSA’s management. Between the two of them, most of the Treasurer’s budgeting aspirations are crushed. Last year’s executive left VUWSA heading towards a $350,000 deficit, but Guzzo has done well to reduce this to $200,000. Guzzo has made the executive more accountable to each other by helping Hood establish the executive reporting committee. He was also responsible for dissuading the executive from taking bonuses this year. So far, Guzzo has not implemented any revenue generating initiatives, although he has recently established a committee to brainstorm ideas.


The Campaigns Officer position is traditionally quite disappointing, or used as a platform for the Officer’s own agenda. There have been few campaigns this year and Redmond herself admits that she has achieved very little thus far, having not worked her allocated hours. However, she has promised that she is working to improve her time management skills. Redmond was left with very little to work with by her predecessor, but she has provided general support to other executive members, and was on the Governance Review’s Working Party.


Bishop has strengthened ties with national women’s organisations. She has been less successful on campus, citing a lack of interest from students and an “extremely inactive” Women’s Group. Sara has made valuable contributions to executive meetings, and is a clear voice, piercing the hack bubble when necessary. Sara also raised awareness on gender inequality with the ‘Who Needs Feminism?’ campaign. Apparently VUWSA doesn’t, as Bishop will be the last Women’s Officer if the Governance Review recommendations are passed.


Of the 22 weeks in this reporting period, Vincent claims to have worked eight, and when queried how many hours he laboured, he was “unsure of this.” Salient is too post-ironic to understand what must have been a joke. The Education Officer is supposed to support the Vice- President (Academic) and VUWSA’s education team. Given the massive effort from those he is expected to support, and the lack of any tangible outcomes he has delivered, it doesn’t look good for Vincent.


Alongside generic goals, the Environment Officer is apparently responsible for ensuring that VUWSA and the University are ‘sustainable’ organisations. It is unclear how Turner has improved the performance of either institution in this regard, with her key initiative—the carpool Facebook group—failing to leave the garage. However, she has done an excellent job of strengthening ties between VUWSA and the numerous environmental groups on campus, and even disrobed with them
on public transport to raise ‘awareness’ for the ‘environment’. Environment Week actually happened too.


The Clubs Officer is supposed to support and assist Clubs, but since the introduction of VSM this is now the role of the University rather than VUWSA. Although unable to fulfil his official obligations, Fleming is not restrained by his low ranked position. Despite occasional lapses of reasonableness, he makes valuable contributions to executive meetings and readily takes on new responsibilities. While at times Fleming has a tendency towards pedantry, this means he is good at making fellow executive members accountable. Unfortunately, Fleming often tries to deny Salient speaking rights at executive meetings, oblivious to the fact that Salient always wins.


It is unclear what the Activities Officer is meant to achieve. There is a lot of overlap between the Activities Officer’s constitutional goals and those of other
officers. Consequently the Activities and Clubs Officer positions will be merged if the Governance Review’s recommendations are passed. Friandafilidis has not achieved much in the way of encouraging activities, citing VUWSA’s “freeze on nonessential spending” as an obstacle. However, he has proved his worth by providing general support to other executive members and the association.


The Queer Officer is responsible for promoting the interests of queer students at Victoria, but effectively operates as a paid UniQ volunteer, doing a great deal of work to support the rep group’s operations. Despite the odd relations misstep with [Public] bar, Fowler gave students an outstanding Pride Week, improved the Safe Spaces initiative of her predecessor, and initiated a Queer Mentoring programme. Fowler will be the final Queer Officer if the Governance Review recommendations are passed at the coming AGM.

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Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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