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.