Tuesday, September 28, 2004

President's Column - The Bain of My Life

Having just returned from NZUSA conference in Dunedin, I was supposed to write this President’s column on national representation. This is something that is so important coming into 2005 (being an election year and all). However, I abandoned that when I tried to log onto an SCS computer to write an essay, and was told that “my roving profile was inaccessible”. The person beside me said that it had been going on for a while, and, even when you do get to log in, the internet and the “H” drives are down.

OH THE HUMANITY!!! I suddenly became intrigued as to what a computer screen would look like after it had fallen from the fifth floor of the Cotton Building and hit the concrete below. (I have to apologise to my office-mates Steph, Lizzie and Eva who had to hear all about my annoyance when I returned to my office – love you guys, really)

A little bit of background; I have a 10,000 word essay on Charles de Gaulle and the European integration process due on Monday 11 October. Needless to say, I have left it to the last minute. So, this afternoon, armed with books, notes, and a big cup of coffee, I set off for the computer lab to begin writing; only to find disappointment.

This represents a recurring theme at Victoria University for me. The senior management team are focused on all sorts of high-level, fancy, will-look-good-in-glossy-brochures stuff, such as television advertising (is it just me, or are the “It Makes You Think” ads so lame? They make me think about transferring to another university), big building projects, and a WiFi system in the library; yet they fail miserably when it comes to the basics, such as an up-to-date library, paying staff a reasonable salary, and providing students with a reliable computer system.

To the university management, students are “clients” or “consumers”. We pay money for the university to provide us with a “service” (ie our education). This service includes lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions, and accompanying resources (such as the library, computers, and anything else you might need to fulfil your studies). The amount of money you pay for this “service”, you would expect it to be pretty damn good, right? In fact, if you come back next year, you will be paying, on average, 4.5% more for this “service” than you did this year. Logically speaking, it should be better than it is this year, right? With the university making a $3 million surplus, things must be fine, right?

Wrong. The computer system crashes on a regular basis (I work it out to be about twice a week at the moment). The library is under resourced (how often are you let down when you can’t find the key text for your essay or assignment?). The lecture theatres are old and uncomfortable (pay a visit to Easterfield 206 sometime – they should start all lectures with a warning about deep vain thrombosis).

How are you supposed to be able to think when the university is holding you back like this? Simple – you can’t. If the university wants to get a better mark in PBRF (Vic came third this year, behind Auckland and Canterbury), you have to fund the basics. If the university wants some good publicity, how about providing students with decent resources, and then they’ll tell their friends about how good their “educational experience” was at Victoria.

As you elected representative, I am going to focus the rest of this year (I’ll be working right through to December 23) and heaps of next year on letting the university know that students simply are not satisfied with the resources they are being provided with. But, I’m going to need your help – if you ever have a problem with anything at Victoria (weather it be the computers, the library or whatever), flick me a quick email (Jeremy.Greenbrook@vuw.ac.nz). Your anonymity is assured.

But, right now I’m off to the bookshop to buy a pen and paper. My father tells me they’re quite reliable…

Cheers, PJ.

Monday, September 27, 2004

President's Column - Just Call Me PJ...

I’m going to be your President next year.

That’s right – 596 people out there in VUWSA-land felt that I was the best person for the job. Not many, really, out of the 18,158 enrolled students at Victoria. Lets bring this into perspective. During my election campaign:
· I spoke to 57 lectures. I was asked to leave one. On an average of 100 students a lecture, I spoke to (approximately) 5,700 students. That’s approximately a 10% uptake.
· I did 5 leaflet drops at 7:15am. I also picked my leaflets up at the end of the day, and recycled them the next day (being a tutor in Environmental Studies 114, I have to lead by example). I distributed 3,400 leaflets.
· My blog (jeremy4president.blogspot.com) got 700 hits.

Anyway, I arrived in this morning to find the following email from our current President in my inbox:

From: Amanda Hill
Sent: Wednesday, 22 September 2004 10:26 p.m.
To: Jeremy Greenbrook

can you pls rwrite mh docolumn thanis

So, with very little notice, I have to write 600 words about something. So I chose a topic that is important to me - me.

My name is Jeremy, but most people at VUWSA call me PJ. I’m 23 years old. My birthday is July 5, which makes me a Cancer. I grew up on a farm in the Makarau Valley, some 80 km north of Auckland, to the west of Orewa (the place where Don Brash gave that speech). My childhood neighbor was Tony Woodcock (prop for the Auckland Blues).

I attended Kaukapakapa Primary School, and Kaipara College. My father was my History teacher. When I was 11, our local MP (Lockwood Smith) visited our school. I asked him why he had put university fees up – it made the front page of the local newspaper.

I have two undergraduate degrees – BA (History and Politics), and a BSc (Geography). I’m half way through an MSc in Geography. My thesis supervisor was “Dr Nick” in last week’s Five. His real name is Tim Vowles.

Alright, that’s enough about me.

Have you voted in the local body elections yet? If you haven’t, make sure you do. I have yet to receive my voting papers, so I’m a little disenfranchised – should probably sort that out I guess.

Yesterday, VUWSA held a candidates forum for Mayor, Lambton and Southern Wards, and Capital and Coast District Health Board. The big issues were the bypass, the Jack Ilott Green, and council debt (best answer had to be Stephan Hay who said that when the Bolsheviks took power in Russia, all debt was written off). Virtually every candidate took a swing at current mayor, Kerry Prendigast (I think the only one that didn’t was the mayor herself). That’s what politics is all about – gutter fighting!

Also in the news today:
Do you currently receive the Independent Circumstances Allowance? Have you received a letter to say you may not be eligible for it next year? If so, we want to talk to you! Please email Sandra.crews@vuw.ac.nz.

Anyway, don’t be a stranger. Come down to VUWSA and say gidday, or flick me an email (Jeremy.Greenbrook@vuw.ac.nz). And, check out my http://jeremy4president.blogspot.com.

And remember, the name’s Jeremy, but you can call me PJ.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Election Starts Monday

In accordance with the VUWSA constitution, all blogs have been removed from this site.

Please visit the VUWSA Elections page (http://elections.vuwsa.org.nz) to vote.

I wish my fellow candidates good luck, and may the best man win.

Jeremy Greenbrook.
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