VUWSA not learning

is voluntary from next year. The idea is that they focus less on being a branch of the Labour Party, and more on actually doing good stuff for students.

However they have struck a dirty deal with the university, where VUW will fund them using taxpayer and student money so they can function even if no students wish to join them. This is obviously a sign that VUW is awash in surplus funds and doesn’t need any further taxpayer contributions.

For let’s have a look at how the 2012 VUWSA President plans to use VUWSA assets funded by taxpayers and students:

Now you can’t blame the VUWSA flunkies entirely for this. They have had years of a culture of entitlement where they see VUWSA assets as being available for their personal political activites.

Whom I blame is the Council and Vice-Chancellor of . The whole idea behind is to give bodies like VUWSA an incentive to provide better representation and services to students. Handing over a large cheque every year with next to no accountability, means they are unlikely to change.

If I was the new Minister of Tertiary Education, I’d be thanking the Council and VC of VUW for making their job much much easier. If at anytime in the next four years before the Govt gets the books back into surplus VUW asks for more money, then it is an easy “No” as they obviously have lots to spare. Of course some of the academic staff may get upset that they’ll go four years without a payrise, just so VUWSA gets to keep its van for trips to Young Labour conferences.

UPDATE: VUWSA President-Elect Bridie Hood has e-mailed to clarify:

I just wanted to clarify a few of the issues mentioned in your blog post this morning entitled ‘VUWSA Not Learning’.

As has been mentioned in the comments section, all VUWSA Affiliated Clubs are able to access the VUWSA Van for use. Most of the youth political groups are affiliated VUWSA clubs (including VicLabour, VicNats, Greens@Vic, Act on Campus etc), and those which are not have the opportunity to become so. The process is transparent and fair. VUWSA does not privilege any particular groups simply by dint of their political affiliation. 

 As stated on the VUWSA website (http://www.vuwsa.org.nz/other-services/van-and-trailer-hire/) there is a $90 per day fee to use the Van and clubs must also pay for petrol.This is not a service fully funded by the University and/or VUWSA. It is, however, offered at a cheaper rate than other companies such as Hertz and Rent-a-Dent to allow clubs to participate in events.

Regarding my comment on the Young Labour Summer School event page, I was suggesting that VicLabour could hire out the VUWSA van (if it was available) so they could travel to the event at a lower cost than flying.

I’m disappointed to see that a personal facebook post has been interpreted in such a way.Anyone who knows me and knows my work at VUWSA knows that I would never use a VUWSA resource, such as the van, for my own personal gain.

Please let me know if you have any questions on this issue and I am happy to discuss VUWSA policy with you if the need arises. I hope you find the time next year to come and visit us, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the changes that have been made over the last few years.

A fair response by Bridie, and I accept there was no intention of private gain. I do think there is a wider issue about using income gained through compulsory means to benefit the small minority who are involved in clubs and socs. I’d have no problem with that, if there was a voluntary membership fee and that was one of the “perks” of joining. But the whole idea with VSM is that compulsory sources of income should be used only for essential student services such as a class rep system, a union building.

But full marks to Bridie for the tone of her response.

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