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July 22, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Eye on Exec

Monday 15 July

With President Rory McCourt, famed for his lengthy Exec meetings, back from his jaunt to the States, Salient were in for a treat last Monday: a 2.5-hour Exec meeting to see in the new trimester.

Although Vice-President (Academic) Sonya Clark may have been relieved she was no longer charged with the duties of Acting President, not everyone was pleased to see McCourt back in town: most University staff had told him that he “could have stayed longer”. But welcome or not, McCourt was determined to make sure that his return did not go unnoticed, leading the Exec to do a complete 180 on their vote at the last meeting.

At an Exec meeting on June 24, a majority of the Exec had decided that it would be best if VUWSA—already overworked and over budget—did not hold a by-election to contest the role of Vice-President (Welfare) left empty by the resignation Simon Tapp, but instead let former Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer (WSO) Rick Zwaan, who had been co-opted in the interim, stay in the position for the rest of the year. Treasurer Jordan McCluskey had been the loudest voice in the against camp, as he believed a by-election was a “pointless waste of time and money”.

Since that meeting, where only Clark and Campaigns Officer Harry Chapman and voted in favour of holding a by-election, new information had “come to light”; namely, VUWSA had been given approval to use students’ money (from Student Forum)—not their own—to pay for a by-election. With McCourt back in town, a by-election was back on the cards: apparently it looks bad if you tell the Uni that you have a mandate to act on behalf of your members when one-fifth of your Executive haven’t been elected by the same students you claim to represent.

The debate played out at length, with Zwaan becoming increasingly (and justifiably) frustrated, having already put in a significant amount of work in his new role since he was first co-opted in early June. Acting on the reasonable assumption that his role was secure, Zwaan had already created an extremely detailed and colour-coded timetable—one which did not set aside time for running in a by-election.

Eventually however, given that money was no longer an issue (what’s another $3000 of student money?), and VUWSA are “cramming in heaps of shit this semester, anyway”, most of the Exec changed their mind, with all except Equity Officer Matthew Ellison (against) and Zwaan (abstaining) voting in favour of having a by-election, after all.

When Salient questioned why the WSO role would not be contested in the by-election as well, Clark explained that electing for WSO would create the awkward possibility that Zwaan may end up unemployed. As he would have to officially resign from WSO in order for both to be contested, there is a possibility he could run for both positions, lose both positions, and be left with no role in VUWSA—all in the name of democracy.

Instead, the Exec have decided to co-opt a “General Exec Member” in the interim, who would effectively work as WSO until the by-election, meaning that Zwaan would be able to return to his position as WSO if he loses VPW in the by-election. When Vice-President (Engagement) Mica Moore expressed doubts that anyone would want to apply to be a General Exec Member, McCourt enthusiastically reassured his Exec that “People love that shit,” to which an exasperated Moore responded “Do they? Hands up who loves that shit?”

Salient can confirm that no hands were raised.

NOTE : In classic fashion, the Exec have since changed their minds again and decided that they will not be seeking to co-opt a General Exec Member, as their Constitution no longer allows them to do so. For more details on the by-election, see the news story on p 7.

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