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August 19, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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The McCourt Report

I’ve got to admit, it’s getting better. A little better all the time, this President thing. We’ve reached the mid-trimester break of Trimester 2 and VUWSA’s still solvent, the building hasn’t burnt down and those effigy-burnings of me have certainly plateaued. In the words of Hekia Parata, this is “good news”.

I finally feel like I’m getting a real sense of the role, and how rewarding it is to be coordinating the voices of other students. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel of student politics, and while I’m excited to get back to study in a few months, I don’t think I’ve ever loved this job more than now. And I think this new-found appreciation of all things VUWSA has come from a few recent developments:

We made a real difference to the Wellington City Council’s proposal to restrict the opening hours of bars in our recent alcohol-policy submission. We relayed student feedback from flats, halls and RAs. We said kicking students out on the street at 2 am won’t solve binge drinking, but instead make our mates more unsafe. In any case, incidents of binge drinking among 18–24-year-olds are on the decline.

The Council also wanted to close off-licence liquor stores and dairies with wine and beer after a certain time. We said this was stupid, because students will just buy their alcohol earlier in the day. Why has this experience given me new hope? Because it renewed my faith in VUWSA as a collective voice for students. You’ll be able to enjoy your night now more safely thanks to VUWSA.

Another area I’m pretty excited about making progress in is our contracts and budgeting processes. While these might not sound exciting, the underfunding of VUWSA’s services from the University and the lateness of signing contracts mean that your Students’ Association is often left in a tricky situation year to year. The University managers have agreed to look at how VUWSA is funded, and what we could change to give more stability and certainty.

What does this mean for you? Well, hopefully, better-run services, welfare and events, as well as a much better Orientation. We’re currently working on our plans for Orientation 2014, and we’ll be asking for your feedback soon about what kind of events and bands you’d like.

Another area where I really feel like we’re making a difference is at Academic Board and Academic Committee, where we recently had a big impact on the grading changes proposal (the introduction of a C-, and the moving of all other grades up the scale).

We’re also getting more and more Food-Bank packs and free bus passes to Karori, Te Aro and Pip; feeding hungry students like we haven’t done since 2011. You said it was important, we listened.

I used to feel like the fool on the hill, where a foreign world of academics and managers made me think every turn I took was wrong. Now, I think the Exec team and I have matured a bit. I think we’ve built really good relationships with those staff and found our voice. We’ve self-improved.

University is all about self-improvement. It’s about coming to a place where, with a bit of hard work and a few all-nighters, you can come out the other side with a degree in one hand and the knowledge to conquer the world in the other.

Well, that’s the case not only for academic pursuits, but the whole student experience. Whether it’s perfecting your sport, helping to run a club, volunteering in the community or serving your peers; this is the place to become the person you want to be.

Better living, everyone.

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