VUW and VUWSA get heavy with Salient

March 7th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Salient reports:

Victoria University Chancellor Sir Neville Jordan expressed disgust with a recent satirical piece published in Salient.

In an outburst at a recent Victoria University Council meeting, Sir Neville said it was not made clear that the piece was a “spoof” and that it was “disgusting” and a “travesty”.

In response to Sir Neville’s public comments, and after consultation with VUWSA, the editors sent a private apology letter to Sir Neville.

Sir Neville did not accept their initial apology. The editors were told that Sir Neville required the apology to be amended to specify that the editors “unreservedly” apologize.

Further, Sir Neville required that the amended apology letter be published in print and online. Sir Neville was non-negotiable on the apology letter being published in print.

It was not made clear what the consequences would be if these requirements were not met.

Sir Neville also required all online content of the article to be removed.

In response to Sir Neville’s complaints the editors published an apology in print, including the required phrase ‘unreservedly’. They deleted the article from the website but it remains online in a PDF version of the magazine.

The satire piece consisted of a series of questions and answers. Questions included ‘What’s the best part of your job?’, ‘What’s the worst part of your job?’ and ‘So what do you actually do?’, to which the responses were “shaking sweaty hands at graduation ceremonies”.

The final question asked for “any parting words of wisdom” and the response quoted a “favourite Kardashian/Jenner child” (Kylie): “stop sippin’ on that haterade” and “don’t listen to what people say because they don’t know the truth”.

VUWSA placed some pressure on the editors as this article went to print to not make this information public.

The Salient Charter, Clause 1, states: “The Editor(s) shall determine the form and content of Salient with complete freedom from political interference”.

Salient is funded by Victoria University of Wellington students through the student services levy, and was established as “an organ of student opinion” in 1938.

With respect the VC Chancellor is over-reacting to some pretty obvious satire. And sad to see VUWSA trying to pressure Salient to stay quiet. This is what happens when you sell your soul to the university in exchange for funding.

UPDATE: VUWSA have sent through a statement:

There is a clear distinction between the political arm of VUWSA, run by the Executive, and the operational arm headed by the General Manager.

The VUWSA General Manager, who is the manager of the Salient Editors, raised concerns with the editors regarding any potential legal risks to VUWSA (as the legal publisher of Salient) in publishing an article. At no time were the Salient Editors asked to show the content of the proposed article.

We respect Salient’s editorial independence as outlined in the VUWSA Constitution.

NZUSA woes

September 14th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Salient has a very long feature on NZUSA, in the context of a vote next week by Vic students on whether to remain members.

A very detailed account of all the issues and power plays over the last few years. I’m quoted a few times.

I said to Salient that if I was a Vic student I would vote for VUWSA to remain a member of NZUSA, but only in exchange for better performance and accountability.

What I suggested is that campus student associations should stop thinking of being members of NZUSA, and start thinking of contracting them for services provided.

What I mean is that associations like VUWSA could sign a three year funding agreement with NZUSA. We will pay $x to NZUSA in exchange for NZUSA achieving the following for us and our students.

This would give greater funding certainty to NZUSA, but also greater accountability for the money. It could also even lead to some competition. You could have another body, or group, say “Hey we can provide those services for the same or less money”.

I think NZUSA has been doing better this year, than in many previous years. An example:

McCourt runs through his, and Haines’, list of achievements. They’re not insubstantial; across the political spectrum, most agree that McCourt has done a solid job. This year saw the culmination of a long-term project between NZUSA and the Government that massively reduced Studylink waiting times and reduced the number of dropped calls by over 99 per cent. After years of campaigning—albeit by associations around the country as well as NZUSA—the Government has indicated it will introduce minimum rental property standards. 

But the question will be whether a better performance this year will be enough to compensate for the poor performance of previous years.

Have the Police decriminalised cannabis?

July 27th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar


Salient reports:

Chris Fowlie is the head of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and he really doesn’t like the way the police enforce the Misuse of Drugs Act. In a recent post on The Daily Blog, he argued that the authorities maliciously target harmless dope smokers, causing them far more harm than a joint ever could.

The statistics he cites appear to back up his argument: since 1994 there have been nearly half a million drug arrests, accounting for 11 per cent of all recorded crime. 85 per cent of the arrests were for cannabis, and 87 per cent of those were for personal amounts. On average, that equates to the police arresting 15,800 users a year for possession of personal amounts of pot. That’s 43 a day, or one every 33 minutes.

Fowlie says these statistics “are illustrative of how drug policing in New Zealand has gone off the rails”. But actually, the opposite is true: a closer look at the data shows that in fact there has been a huge decline in police arrests for possession and use over time. In averaging out arrests over two decades, Fowlie focusses on the noise and misses the signal.

You can see the trend above.

In the period between 1994 and 2014, annual recorded offences for possession of all illicit drugs halved. Offences for cannabis possession specifically did likewise. More interestingly, recorded offences for using illicit drugs fell from 1,307 down to 260, which was largely driven by 1,046 fewer cannabis use offences. The Police prosecute significantly fewer people for possession and use of drugs than they did two decades ago.

And this has occurred at a time when Ministry of Health figures suggest that the prevalence of drugs in New Zealand has remained stable and, particularly in the case of cannabis, relatively high. The data shows that 42 per cent of Kiwis aged 15 and over have smoked pot at some point in their lives, and 11 per cent have smoked pot in the past year. That’s 397,000 past-year tokers. The same survey showed that only two per cent of past year cannabis smokers reported experiencing legal problems as a result of their use.

So why have arrests halved if use has remained the same? There’s a simple answer: the Police are decriminalising cannabis in New Zealand.

I wouldn’t go that far. I would say that the Police are sensibly prioritising crimes that actually have victims.

Another explanation for the decline is that there has been a wider shift in the way that police approach low-level criminal offending. Wilkins says that “it would be a mistake to say it is a change that is specific to drugs. It reflects a wider change in police philosophy.” He believes the trend extends to other low-level crime, such as petty theft, and says the decline in arrests is a case of better allocation of police resources. “There’s a desire to be more effective and efficient, so that means reprioritising low-level offending.”

This is supported by the data. At the same time as possession and use charges for cannabis have come down, the number of manufacture and import charges have increased. The last 20 years have also seen the rise of meth, which Wilkins says has taken up more policing resources.

“If you’re a policeman and you have two markets—meth and cannabis—you have to ask yourself, ‘which is the best use of my time?’”

And I’m for prioritising meth over cannabis.

Encouragingly, Police Commissioner Mike Bush agrees that alternative approaches to prosecution can lead to better outcomes for users. Last month he heaped praise on Auckland Constable Scott Wolfe, “whose empathy for a methamphetamine addict helped turn her life around”.

In a post on his “Commissioner’s Blog”, Bush explained that Constable Wolfe “arrested the woman for possession of a cannabis pipe and, recognising the signs of methamphetamine use, discovered she had a heavy addiction and was living in a car”. Instead of prosecuting the woman through the traditional court system, Constable Wolfe referred her instead to Te Kooti o Timatanga Hou—The New Beginnings Court, which is focussed on homeless and disadvantaged people.

“She’s now in rehabilitation, has reconnected with her child and made huge improvements in her life,” said the Commissioner. “This is a superb example of the difference we can all make by showing a little understanding and using our initiative.” Indeed.

Yep, a good call.

Yes, there is. Professor Mark Bennett, a lecturer at Victoria University’s Law School, says that “if a certain offence will not be followed up on and there is little danger of detection and/or prosecution, there are questions around the legitimacy of this from both a rule of law and democratic perspective.”

The police can’t just decide to stop enforcing the laws of the land without there being repercussions. Dr. Dean Knight, another law lecturer at Victoria, says that one of the roles of the police is to follow the democratic will of the people and enforce the laws they voted for. “The Police probably shouldn’t effectively repudiate laws through non-enforcement,” he says.

We might think it’s fine for the Police to decriminalise pot, but what happens if one day they decided to stop prosecuting theft, say? Or assault? Or corruption? This is particularly concerning given the fact that the public is largely unaware of changes in police policy.

We already have this with electoral offences. Over many years the Police have shown no inclination to prosecute electoral law breaches.

But there is always going to be a degree of Police discretion over how actively they enforce some laws. Otherwise they’d be arresting jaywalkers or the like.

Former Salient staff now journalists

September 12th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Salient interviewed over Twitter a number of former staff who are still in journalism, and the q+a are quite interesting. Those who responded include Patrick Gower (3 News), Elle Hunt (Radio NZ/The Wireless), Laura McQuillan (NewstalkZB), Matt Nippert (Fairfax), John Campbell (Campbell Live), Simon WIlson (Metro) and Toby Manhire (Listener et al).

Salient interviews Collins

October 1st, 2012 at 5:33 pm by David Farrar

Asher Emanuel of Salient has an extended interview with Judith Collins. It is an interesting read. A couple of extracts:

A: I’ve read that you were once a staunch Labour supporter—

J: Oh, well that’s what happens when you grow up in a family that is [chuckles]. Everyone’s allowed to be stupid once, I always say!

A: On Labour, you once said that it’s a group of people “who think that policy papers can change the world”—

J: They do. Actions speak louder than words.

A: How would you characterise the difference?

J: They think that having a strategy paper […] followed by a work plan paper, followed by a consultation document should take up about three years of government and then they can say that they’ve done something. […] It’s a bit like those people who say things like ‘one day I’m going to run a marathon’, and then never actually put their running shoes on to go and start. I guess I’m someone who feels very aware, Asher, that I have a certain amount of time on earth, I have a certain amount of time and I don’t believe I get to come back here to earth, so—not a buddhist. […] And I am absolutely aware that every single minute has to count.

I think you could apply that to the health system. Labour had dozens of strategies, goals, targets and objectives. Tony Ryall came in and set six or seven clear national goals for the health sector, and we’ve seen some real tangible and important improvements.

A: How does your gender affect you media portrayal?

J: Well, there’s no point moaning about it, because you won’t get anywhere with it, but women politicians are quite clearly judged on an extra set of characteristics than our male counterparts. Our clothes are criticised, or sometimes ever MARKED. Hair, weight, age; all these things are up for grabs, and to the extent that our male colleagues don’t get the same sort of scrutiny. However, that is also an opportunity for us to actually show ourselves as different from what is the norm, and so every difficulty or every problem is actually an opportunity.

A: You’ve said before that you’re “pro-women” rather than describing yourself as a feminist.

J: I’ve never had a problem with saying that I am actually someone who is pro-women, and the trouble with the label feminist, is that it’s used in a derogatory way by many. It’s also used [in] a celebratory way by many. […] Far too often—and not just in Parliament, in business and particularly around boards—we have far too few women. Or the women that some of the men feel comfortable with are the women who play supportive roles. Well… I’m not a supportive role player. Unless it’s part of the team—I’m very happy to be part of the team. But I’m not a handmaiden. And I think that some men, who feel threatened by that, that that’s a bit of a shame, because they hold back the best people, and they spend their time worrying about someone being threatening.


Salient satire

March 18th, 2012 at 3:17 pm by David Farrar

Salient have kindly added me to their distribution list, and have just been reading their first few issues. Had a good laugh at a satirical article on Trevor Mallard’s scalping, which they have on their website also. An extract:

In a shocking turn of events, it has emerged that the sell-out sales to this week’s O-Week events was not due to popular student demand, but was rather the result of a new business venture by Labour Party politician and entrepreneur, Trevor Mallard MP.

Salient understands that the MP had bought all 1,000 tickets to the Mt Eden and Roots Manuva shows, set to be held as part of Victoria University’s O-Week 2012, in an attempt to scalp them on Trade me for a negligible to modest profit.

In a written statement to Salient, Mr. Mallard stated that the initiative was part of a broader fiscal scheme to bolster his personal income.

“The pay down at Parliament is bloody dire, to be honest,” he said.

“I mean, for fuck’s sake, what else was I meant to do?” …

In the face of these accusations, Mr. Mallard has refused to capitulate to demands to return the tickets to the student body, vowing to fill the venue himself.

“It’s a matter of honour now,” he said, “But it’s all good. I’ll bring my Parliament bros along. Trev and the boys can always bring the party!”

Mr. Mallard claims he may just be able to scrape together a half-capacity crowd. All he needs to do is round up in one room everyone who wanted Phil Goff to be Prime Minister.

Heh, very good. Even better was Michelle A’Court on the same topic Seven Days on Friday night. I won’t quote her exact words, but let’s just say it was very funny.

Vote Knight

October 7th, 2010 at 2:29 pm by David Farrar

If you’re at Vic Uni, make sure you vote in the final of Academic Idol, for the most popular lecturer.

It not often ones goes for a lawyer, but the competition is from the psych department, and lets face it almost all psychologists are nuts themselves. Also Dean is a great guy.

Dean’s final entry is:

If you were going to commit a crime, which one would it be and how would you justify it to the public (if you get caught)?
Bonus question: Capybaras—yay or nay?

“C’mon! You can’t ask a legal academic that question. We believe in the Rule of Law! Well, perhaps. Maybe. Or maybe only one or two of the different conceptions of the Rule of Law…
Anyways, the whole point about being a smarty-pants lawyer is we know what’s illegal and what’s not. And we know how to argue about the grey areas in order to avoid being convicted. No need to justify anything if you don’t commit the crime.
– Parking in a loading zone (Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004, r 6.4)—not a crime after 6pm, unless the sign says “At All Times”.
– Urinating in a public place (Summary Offences Act 1981, s 32)—not a crime if you reasonably believe no-one can see you.
– Drinking booze in a liquor ban zone (Local Government Act 2002, s 147)—the Police first have to analyse and prove the liquor is more than 1.15% strong.
– Stealing a baby’s identity to get a false passport (Tough on Crime Act 2010, s23)—you’re immune if you’re a member of the Sensible Sentencing Trust.
– Breaching any law of the land in the name of the earthquake recovery effort (Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010, s 6)—not if you have a note excusing you written by Lord Gerry VIII…

Now this is actually damn useful advice – how to legally park on loading zones, urinate in public and drink alcohol in a ban zone.

A final note from Dean:

So that’s it. If you reckon I have done enough to Outwit, Outplay and Outlast (or Outspam?) – or just want to support the law guy – then you can text “Dean” to 027 CUSTARD (+64-27-287-8273) or; by 5pm Thu (NZT). Apparently you don’t need to be at Vic to vote.

You have 150 minutes to vote!

VUWSA By-Election Invalid

September 22nd, 2009 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Salient reports:

Salient understands the recent VUWSA by-election was declared invalid by an independent panel following a complaint by Act on Campus vice-president Peter McCaffrey.

Sources revealed the decision to Salient last week. The report had not been officially released at the time of print.

McCaffrey complained because of irregularities between online and paper ballots, and lax identification procedures with paper votes.

Upon receiving the complaint the election committee released a statement saying the irregularities’ while “not strictly in accordance with the VUWSA constitution” had “minimal” influence on the by-election.

The matter was passed onto an independent panel, comprised of former NZUSA president Joey Randall, former VUWSA Treasurer Graeme Edgeler and Senior Lecturer in Statistics Dr Richard Arnold, who have reportedly found the by-election to be invalid.

I am not surprised. In fact I was amazed that the election committee upheld the by-election. Not only were the electronic ballot papers in breach of the constitution by offering a no confidence option when it should not, you had different ballot papers online and offline.  These are not minor issues.

If the election is invalid, the decisions of the VUWSA exec over the past two months may not be legitimate. …

Neilson said the panel’s decision put the exec “in a tight position”. …

“It puts the voting strength on or below six, [which is] what’s required to make quorum,” he said.

Five new executive members—Max Hardy, Caitlin Dunham, Guy Williams, Zachary Dorner and Luke Cao—were elected in the by-election held from July 27 to 29.

What is that old saying about ability to organise a piss up in a brewery? And they get $2 million or so a year in compulsory fees.

The ASPA Awards

September 14th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I was one of the judges for the Best Website section of the Aotearoa Student Press Association Awards, so went along to the awards ceremony on Thursday night.


Barry Soper (left) was the Awards MC and Guest Speaker. Laura McQuillan was the Awards organiser.

I knew a few of the other Judges, and got to meet some I hadn’t already met, such as the Dom’s Post Greer McDonald, and Nicky Hager. No doubt Whale and Cactus will expel me again from the VWRC for fraternising with Nicky. I did ask Nicky to consider revealing one day in the future (as in many decades time after the people involved are dead) who or how he got the National Party e-mails,for the sake of accurate history.


The Salient team accepting the Publication of the Year award, with editor Jackson Wood next to Barry.

The full list of awards was:

  1. Best Website – Craccum
  2. Best Headline – Critic for “Students spitroasted at CoC fight”
  3. Best Cartoonist – Robyn Kenealy of Salient and Maria Brett of Critic
  4. Best Original Photography – Clinton Cardozo of Debate
  5. Best Sports Writer – Brad Kreft of Critic
  6. Best Education Series – Joshua Drummond of Nexus
  7. Best Humour Content – Joseph Harper of In Unison
  8. Best Reviewer – Joseph Harper of In Unison
  9. Best Columnist – Dr Love of Magneto and Liz Willoughby-Martin of Critic
  10. Best Cover – Salient
  11. Best Editorial Writer – Ryan Boyd of Debate
  12. Best Feature Writer – Sarah Robson of Salient
  13. Best News Writer (unpaid) – Jessy Edwards of Salient
  14. Best News Writer – (paid) – Stacey Knott of In Unison
  15. Best Feature Content – Nina Fowler of Salient
  16. Best Design – Chaff
  17. Best Small Publication – Magneto
  18. Best Publication – Salient

Was a fun night. It wound down a bit before midnight when some headed into town. Thanks to Fairfax for sponsoring it, and well done to the winners and finalists.


April 30th, 2009 at 12:22 pm by David Farrar

It is time for National to live up to its core principles and make a commitment to voluntary membership of student associations. VUWSA gives us two good reminders of why students should have the choice about whether or not they hand over millions of dollars every year.

First have a look at this story and comments at Salient about the VUWSA Exec refusing to lay a wreath for ANZAC Day. Scores of angry students – but you know not one of them is legally allowed to quit as a member and get his or her fee back – or refuse to join up and spend the fee joining a group they do wish to belong to.

The other going on is at Salient itself. I’m not going to cover the full story, as it is on Ethical Martini, but Salient (which is funded by VUWSA compulsory fees) threatened Dave at Big News with a defamation suit over a very trivial issue (involving someone from the Salient office spamming his site). Now student media of all groups should be the last to be trying to use defamation laws aggressively against people. Again – if they actually had to earn their money – not get given it by statute – this silliness would largely disappear. Fortunately Salient have withdrawn their threat of legal action.

If you want to give 200,000+ students a choice, then e-mail Minister of Education Anne Tolley and ask her to stick it on the agenda for 2009 or 2010.

Salient vs VUWSA

August 12th, 2008 at 6:12 pm by David Farrar

Salient has an open letter to VUWSA – the organisation that all Vic studenrs are forced to fund. Salient normally goes soft on VUWSA as they fund them, so they have to be pretty peeved to do this:

As you failed to hold an Initial General Meeting this year, and have so far failed to hold an Annual General Meeting to pass last year’s budget, students have not been afforded the forums they need to discuss your structural issues.

Pah – democrarcy – who needs it.

We’re cool with you pulling pranks, like offering $10,000 to whoever arrests Condoleezza Rice, but you have to earn the right to pull these pranks by otherwise running your organisation well, and often you don’t.

I’m never cool with compulsory fees going on such pranks.

Although we don’t write about every little problem you encounter, given the lack of any general meeting this year, it’s worth discussing some of these issues now.

Here are two examples. At the end of last year, former President Geoff Hayward decided to spend over $22,222.22 (which is a much less funny number when it is students funds) to upgrade VUWSA’s van, with the support of current Education Vice-President Paul Brown. Although they did this without the proper authority, the payment could not be reversed and VUWSA was stuck with the bill.

Similarly, at the snow games party in late 2007, VUWSA held a competition in which they gave away a snowboard. However they failed to give the snowboard to the person who won it, and the winner subsequently took VUWSA to court at the beginning of this year. Hayward’s successor as President, Joel Cosgrove, then failed to turn up on the appointed court date. Good one guys.

This is what happens when you don’t have to work for your money.

Salient interviews Sir Roger Douglas

July 24th, 2008 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

An in depth interview with Sir Roger Douglas by Salient. Extracts:

Are you not concerned at all about any bad blood in the house?

(Laughs) What kind of bad blood is there?

Tensions between various other politicians…

Like who?

Well for starters Helen Clark and Michael Cullen…

Oh look, im not worried about Helen Clark or Michael Cullen, we are not going to agree anyway. How can I agree with them anyway! They are tearing the country apart! They have reduced our labour productivity to a third of what it was, multifaceted productivity is down to one seven of where it was. I’m not going to worry about what Michael Cullen or Clark think. They think as highly of me as I think of them.

And productivity growth is the long term key to closing the gap with Australia.

What is the single biggest issue facing New Zealand at the moment and how would you remedy it?

The level of government expenditure. This government has increased government expenditure over and above inflation. That’s about 17 billion a year. But in more practical terms, that’s $200 a week per family in New Zealand. The lives of families in new Zealand would be dramatically changed if the government had not taken that money from them and flushed it down the toilet because that’s essentially what they did. They wasted it.

There’s a whole lot of families out there that I used to represent, in Otara, who would feel a lot better about their lives today if they could keep that $200. This is supposed to be a government that cares about those kinds of people. They don’t care. They are chardonnay socialists. And in some ways I have nothing but contempt for them. Because they have usurped the people they claim to represent. They don’t even mix with those people. I’d mix with those people a lot more than they would.

That’s fighting words!

Why has John Ansell left the ACT team?

Well, I still talk to John. I think John probably from his point of view found there were frustrations, he wanted to control from woe to go. The problem in politics is you’ve always got that fine balance about aiming for perfection and when possibly 95% will do, and sometimes 95% is enough, you have a trade off there between speed to market and perfection. …

Id see something and say its great, but in John’s eyes it could be perfected by doing this or that. I’m sorry to lose him, hes a genius. And im hoping – I spoke to him yesterday – that he can do things for us. But, the other factor, and I don’t know if John really recognised, is the issue of the best use of his time. When you have a creative genius – which he is, you want him to work on projects that matter. Little projects aren’t as critical. Your better to keep him away from them really.

High praise for John.

So the consequence of that, apart from the years of 1992 – 2000 our productivity has been relative to other countries abysmal. We had higher productivity than Australia in 1992 – 2000 largely due to the changes Ruth and I made. During those years we were catching up. But apart from that we are going backwards. One of the other significant reasons is that you’ve had a public who have rewarded politicians who have lied to them. And the students are a typical group. They might be bribed again. I dunno. I hope not. I hope they’ve learnt their lesson. And the public have responded to politicians who’ve scratched every itch. So Winston Peters goes up in the polls when he becomes a racist. And I hate that.

Not the only one!

Salient interviews Jordan Carter

July 14th, 2008 at 8:01 pm by David Farrar

Salient interviews Jordan Carter, who is standing for Labour in Hunua. I’m even one of the topics discussed, and Jordan is very generous with his comments.

One part I’ll quote, which I agree with:

Do you think that the struggle for gay rights has largely finished in New Zealand, do you think that the battle has been won?

No, no, I think the battle for gay rights quote, unquote, will be won when there isn’t a battle for gay rights anymore. When the idea of someone being gay is no more particular or significant than them having red hair, or them being short…

I know not everyone is there, but to me someone being gay is about as significant as them having red hair. Except of course gingas deserve to be persecuted. More seriously, when I do find out someone I know is gay, it is just a feature of who they are.

Reason No 7,562 for VSM

May 20th, 2008 at 9:16 am by David Farrar

Almost every single student at Victoria is forced to fund VUWSA, and the salary of its President – this year Joel Cosgrove.

If you do not approve of the jobs VUWSA does, you can not resign. If you are disgusted with the President – you can not resign. The President andor Exec members can treat students with absolute contempt because their funding is guaranteed.

And we see this in a story on the Salient blog (photos by Sean Gillespie), about the capping ceremony at Victoria. Capping is a big day for most students. They have worked three to five years or more to get their degree. It means a lot to them, and their families. It is not about the Professors or the people on stage – it is for the students – the very ones who fund VUWSA against their will often.

Now this photo is of the stage, and the one standing out is VUWSA President Joel Cosgrove. Now the issue isn’t actually being scruffy, even though I think that is a bit disrespectful. I had the privilege of serving on the Otago University Council and even though I hated suits would wear them when it was appropriate. Also as a Council member I was eligible to wear academic regalia even though I had no degree. I remember having a very cool purple hood. I never actually got around to finishing my degrees so my only graduation ceremonies was as a Council member. Anyway the not wearing regalia is not the issue. Salient notes:

At the parade on Thursday Cosgrove was wearing a suit. So why did he feel the need to wear the t-shirt on Friday’s ceremony? He could have chosen something more appropriate to the occasion, but the university should not have allowed him to sit on the stage at all.

This is a prime example of the complete lack of respect he holds for students.

This is the issue. That is just 100% inappropriate. Graduating students walking along the stage should not be confronted with a “I love my penis” t-shirt. The fact the t-shirt is part of a campaign for a good cause – sexual health checks – is irrelevant. It is about what is appropriate for the occasion. Cosgrove was not there as “Joel Cosgrove”. He was there as President of VUWSA.

Now some may say this is an issue over someone being a dickhead, not about VSM (Voluntary Student Membership). That you get dickheads everywhere. And yes that is true. You get dickheads everywhere and sometimes they get elected as President of VUWSA.

But the nature of compulsory membership does make the problem worse. It increases the chances of getting a student President who, like Joel seemingly, has a contempt for students. When they have no ability to resign in protest or even not join because they think everyone involved is a dickhead – well it is little surprise you get a student president who thinks it is appropriate to wear a penis t-shirt on stage at Capping.

Imagine how pissed off the graduating students are – this is one of the biggest days in their lives – they are walking across the stage receiving their degree and the person who is meant to be their representative, who they have been forced to fund paying him a full-time salary, is sitting them with a “I love my penis” t-shirt on.

It’s a bit of a pity that one of the graduating students didn’t have the presence of mind to grab the microphone as he walked past and say something like “On behalf of most of the students here today, I’d like to just say our President is a douche and we wish he wasn’t here being a douche”. They would have got a standing ovation I reckon.

Blog Bits

April 30th, 2008 at 2:52 pm by David Farrar

David Cohen at NBR covers the apology from Hot Topic to the Listener and notes that by allowing a comments section on your apology, you sort of undermine it.

Rod Drury tries out his Freeview box. He likes the high definition but given a choice between HD and being able to time shift on MySky, he puts the time shifting as more important.

Martin Hurst asks whether shorthand should still be taught in journalism schools, with the greater use of digital recording devices.

David Weigel at Reason looks at most over-rated Presidents. He chooses Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and George HW Bush.

Conrad Reyners at Salient blogs on the Business Roundtable forum on public policy held last night. Sounds like Rod Deane stole the show.

Most important issues facing students

March 5th, 2008 at 12:24 am by David Farrar

Salient asked some MPs and candidates on campus some questions, including “In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing students at the moment?”

Here’s their initial responses:

Mark Blumsky (National): Student loans.

Heather Roy (ACT): Student loans …

Sue Kedgley (Greens): How to pay for the crippling debt.

Grant Robertson (Labour): Keeping Labour in Government …

Phil Howison (Libertarianz): Getting government out of students lives …

Hmmn, spot the answer which is most revealing.