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July 29, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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The McCourt Report

Everyone’s a critic? Good, now find a conscience:
Universities are supposed to be the critic and conscience of a society. We are the ones duty-bound to hold up a mirror glass to ourselves, and to others, and in the middle of the horror that is life, provide hope for humanity with newfound wisdom through logic, research and debate. We challenge the powerful, and tear down walls with our ideas. So often in the rat race that universities have become, this duty is at the back of the minds of our top academics, let alone our students.

But our institutions have always been more than the GDP we could contribute, or the warmachines we could pioneer. We are centres for the exchange of ideas. In that role is our highest calling. We can produce the global leaders of tomorrow through rigorous, challenging liberal arts programmes. Surely this is a more laudable goal than simple completion rates, or lifting our share of the postgrad pie. What is Vic’s big vision? Is it time we took another look at our unique place in the creative, capital city of a stable world-leading democracy as a chance to lead the field once more in academic revolutions in economics, politics, history or public policy?

Bye-By-election bonanza:
As Rick mentioned last week, Simon Tapp, our Vice-President (Welfare), took up a job during the mid-year break and the Executive has decided to head to a by-election to fill his role permanently. Since this decision, Gemma Swan, our Education Officer, has also decided to depart the Exec—focussing on her studies in her final trimester. We wish both Simon and Gemma all the best for the future.

The by-election will be for these two positions, and also include a spot for a student on the Publications Committee, which governs Salient and appoints the Editor(s). This role went unfilled at last year’s General Elections in October.

I encourage you to put up your hand for one or more of these roles when nominations open this Friday. Polling will take place by online secure ballot 22–24 August.

University Council By-election this Thursday:
But wait! There’s another by-election. The email comes out this Thursday. Vote. Come on, it only takes a second. Democracy is sexy.

Pride Week—Rachel Maddow ‘nerdpleased’:
Last week marked yet another highly successful Pride Week with VUWSA and UniQ. From a Queer Quiz, to a Diversity Forum in the marae, to a sexual-abuse prevention workshop and a traffic light party, ‘twas a busy week with a lot on! Equity Officer Matthew Ellison is notoriously
amazing, and his work with UniQ President James Gray and the UniQ team has cemented for another year the awesomeness of Pride. Tino pai!

Representation Review—Replacing the Forum with what works:
VUWSA and the other student representatives on campus had major issues with the Student Forum. I don’t mean to get into those here, but I do want to offer a bit of hope. The Review gives students the biggest opportunity in a generation to build a student representation system that serves students in our multiplicity of needs and preferences.

Us, Vic, and the other student groups want to hear: who you think should be on boards and committees representing you; how you want to be informed and be given feedback; and whether you think VUWSA should once again be tasked with coordinating student consultation and sitting at the top table—University Council. For me, it’s pretty simple: VUWSA is the only inclusive, independent, effective and accountable student organisation capable of doing the job you deserve. Let’s back VUWSA to get back to core business and turn a page on the Forum.

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