Friday, February 25, 2005
President's Column - Politics etc
I also took the opportunity to meet all the clubs on campus, particularly the branches of the political parties. As student president, I believe it is important that I am not only politically neutral, but I have a good working relationship with each of the parties on campus. National, Labour, Greens, United Future, ACT, Campus Left (formerly the Alliance) and the Libertarianz were all out in force at clubs day – Victoria was living up to it’s reputation as the most political campus in the country.
In case you have had your head stuck in the sand for the last few months, there is a general election this year. Many of the parties will be vying for the student vote with “an offer you can’t refuse”.
Labour will be trying to do what they have never done before – serve three consecutive terms in government. On current polling, it would be understandable to assume that this election is really theirs for the loosing; however, there is a long time until polling day. Almost as soon as Labour came to office, they froze tuition fees and removed interest on student loans while studying, and last year’s budget saw in increase in the parental threshold of allowances. However, student debt has continued to rise under Labour, by about a $1 billion a year; in 2003 the fee freeze was replaced with a fee maxima, which saw fees at Victoria rise by 3% and 4.5% in 2004 and 2005 respectively; and in 2005 abolished the 96-week, independent circumstances rule, cutting some 6,000 students off the student allowance. According to Tertiary Education Minister, Trevor Mallard, there won’t be any great changes for students before the election.
After six years in opposition, National will be chomping at the bit to get back into power. They will have learnt their lesson from the 2002 21% trouncing, and will be back in 2005 with a renewed campaign strategy and policy. When 2004 VUWSA President Amanda Hill and I met with National Education Spokesperson Bill English last year, he said that they would not be using the “You Stay, We Pay” policy of 2002, and instead will be focusing on the living costs of students. Earlier this year, English said that National would be re-introducing the 96-week rule, to “encourage students to be independent”.
The Greens are the most likely coalition partners for Labour after the election (should the numbers add up), but on current polling won’t even be back in parliament (unless they were to win an electorate, which is unlikely). They are the one of the only parties in parliament who are proclaiming free tertiary education as a policy point. The Greens have positioned themselves as a party for youth, with Nandor Tanczos as their Tertiary Education spokesperson – hate to break it to you kids, Nandor turns 40 next year, and he stood me up last Monday.
United Future rode into parliament on the bad of the worm in 2002, giving lone ranger leader Peter Dunne some friends in parliament. On Tuesday, they released a 10-point plan for tertiary education, including increased access to allowances, accommodation support and a voluntary saving scheme. There is also provision for student (and former students) who wish to start a family. Dunne claims that all the good things Labour have done for students is due to pressure from United Future (who have a confidence and supply agreement with the government) – naturally, Mallard refuted this when I brought it up with him.
ACT are proclaiming that the best way for students to pay off their student debt is through tax cuts (actually, almost all of their policies come back to tax cuts), and bonding for students who stay in New Zealand. There will be significant encouragement of high achievers through bursaries and scholarships. ACT will be keen to become the first minor party to successfully change leaders, although they would need an electorate seat to stay in parliament in
The Progressives will be lucky to get two seats after the election, and are almost guaranteed to go into coalition with Labour. They also proclaim free tertiary education, but, at the NZUSA January conference, Jim Anderton also stated that 72% tax rate would not be out of the question – even my most socialist tendencies had to baulk at that one.
The only mention of Tertiary Education on the Maori Party’s website is in regards to Te Wananga o Aotearoa. And not even I'm going to go there.
So, who’s going to win? Who’s going to be in government? Who’s going to disappear? Who should you vote for? The “best” party for students? The “best” party for New Zealand? That’s up to you, but make sure your vote is an educated decision, and you take everything into consideration, not just the tertiary education policy.
But, most importantly, make sure you enroll and vote.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
University Council Meeting Monday
Come along - full for the whole family!
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Gay Simpsons Charactor Revealed
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Concerned about the closure of the campus pharmacy?
This is an opportunity to voice your concerns. Also to try and work out a way for the university to re-gain a pharmacy service on the main Victoria University Campus.
For the record - I am not actually enrolling in INFO 101.
Monday, February 21, 2005
It Has Begun!
Today it dawned on me - there have been no students around.
It all changed today when the students arrived back. Those of you who know Victoria will know that my office is almost directly below Eastside, the student bar - all the scinanagins can be clearly heard from my office.
Maybe I should go and join them...
Open Candidate Invite
In the name of political neutrality (well, as best a Labour-sympathizer is ever going to get), I am extending an invite to all political parties and candidates to meet with me and the VUWSA exec (at my place or yours) over the next few weeks - probably more likely to be after . I am about to send an invite out about this.
President's Column - Why I’m Enrolling in INFO 101.
Why, I hear you ask? The President isn’t required to enroll as a student (although, I have enrolled this year). I haven’t done a 100-level paper since 2003. It doesn’t really relate to my masters thesis or either of my undergraduate degrees. It doesn’t even really interest me, to be honest.
However, it does have a kick arse advertising campaign going on. If you were in the quad last Wednesday, you may have noticed the Hell pizza (hmmmmm pizza), cans of Coke, and chrome yo-yos the lovely INFO 101 crew were giving out. The yo-yos are pretty cool, I must admit – the one that I picked up provides a regular distraction to doing real work, like, for example, writing this column. I’m trying to master “Walking the Dog”, as I am led to believe it will be assessed in my first INFO 101 test.
According to its website, INFO 101 is:
“An examination of the role of information systems in the business operations, managerial decision-making, and strategy of modern organisations. The course introduces the fundamental concepts of computer-based information systemsIf you understand what that means, you’re more intelligent than I am (actually, I don’t doubt that at all – almost everyone at Victoria University is more intelligent than I am, otherwise I wouldn’t still be here after 6 years).
acquisition and use.”
While it was all very cool, the yo-yo says nothing about what the course actually is. Nor did the pizza. Nor did the Coke.
I don’t actually blame the School of Information Management for trying to market INFO 101, although I have my doubts about how effective it will actually be. In the competitive environment that is the modern tertiary education sector, universities departments, and, ultimately, courses, have to compete in order to attract students and, subsequently, funding. (If you’re still reading this – come down to my office and get a free can of V – first 5 only) The role of universities as a “critic and conscience of society” is being eroded in favour of the all mighty dollar. Actual informational material is being substituted for glossy brochures. Instead of spending money on replenishing the dilapidated library, the university is investing in lame television advertisements.
My advise to all students, first year right through to post-graduate: think before you enroll. Make sure you find out everything you can about courses before you hand over a small fortune in tuition fees. The last thing you want to do is enroll in a course that turns out to be nothing like what the promotional material said – not only will you get disillusioned with the subject, but you will get sick of university study. And no one wants that.
If you need to speak to someone, there are plenty of course advisors in each faculty – also, most course coordinators are happy to help you out. If they’re no good, come and have a talk to the VUWSA Education Coordinators, Sandra and Nicki, at the VUWSA office, Ground Floor of the Student Union Building.
Anyway, I’m off to my first INFO 101 lecture, 9am Tuesday morning in Maclaurin 103.
Friday, February 18, 2005
Death On Campus
There will be a mermorial service in the quad at 11:30. I will briefly be speaking on behalf of students.
At times like this the VUW community needs to put any differences behind them and come together to support each other.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
It Makes You Think
Many of the other stalls (many of which were corporates) gave away free stuff. This is fair enough, I guess. Small stuff like lollypops, pens, fridge magnets and the like. VUWSA bought into this in a small way, giving away pens and Dave and Hannah hovered with cases of V (kindly donated by StudentCard and Varsity.co.nz).
However, in my humble opinion, the School of Infomation Systems went a little over board. They hired about half a dozen students in smart tee-shirts to give away crome yo-yo's, Hell pizza, and Coke to promote one of their 100-level papers. There was little to no information about the course. I asked one of the student-promoters what the course was all about, and they replied "nothing really - it's an easy 18 points". I would be very interested as to how effective the advertising was.
The irony - the course was INFO 101.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Don Brash has a Blog
This was due to an issue with the fonts, which was only discovered after it had been sent to the print.
Editor Emily Braunstein and Designer Dave Batt assure me that this is a teething problem and will be ironed out next week.
St Valentines Day Massacre
So, I went along to my first sub committee meeting yesterday afternoon - Audit.
For a starter; I didn't even know what the Audit committee actually did until about an hour before the meeting (well, anything more specific than auditing the University). Not good.
I've never sat in a room where everyone violently disagreed with everything I stand for. It was like being at a Young Nat's conference, only middle aged. Actually, scrub that, it was exactly like being at a Young Nats conference. :-)
While I can not devolve the actual details of the meeting (as it was based around the Annual Report, which still needs to be passed by Council before it is made public), I did pick up a few issues, which, to me, seemed to be glaringly obvious. One of which left our new Vice Chancellor speechless, and I will elaborate on when I can.
Monday, February 14, 2005
President's Column - Orientation Issue
“I have much pleasure in welcoming you as a member of the Students’ Association…
… in wishing you well for your years at Victoria as a member of the Association, I would urge you not to bury your talents here.”
That is how my predecessor, Doug J White, welcomed students to Victoria University in 1968. I prefer something a little simpler, and slightly less formal:
Gidday, Kia Ora, Welcome
Quite a bit has changed in 37 years: there were only some 4000 students here then, and all based on the Kelburn campus, now there’s close to 20,000 on four campuses and a few studying via distance; international students didn’t even figure in 1968, but make up over 11% of the student body in 2005; and in 1968 men easily out-numbered women, but now there are 5 female students to every 4 males.
A 2003 marketing study at Otago University concluded that Victoria University is perceived by school leavers as “the cool university”. VUWSA is planning to uphold this reputation in 2005.
If you live in a Hall of Residence, there’s the Halls Party this Friday night. There’s a huge Orientation next week, with some massive gigs right here on campus, including The Violent Femmes, The Cat Empire, and The Shins. You are never going to be able to see these bands again for so cheap - simple as that really.
There will also be plenty happening during the day, such as Wellington Pro Wrestling, Clubs Days, and Market Days.
Wellington is a great place to live. Make sure you visit Te Papa, The New Zealand Film Archive, and climb up Mount Victoria or up to the Brooklyn Wind Turbine. If politics floats your boat, Parliament is just down the road – this year is an election year, and the race for Wellington Central is going to be close, between sitting Labour Cabinet Minister, Marian Hobbs, and former Mayor and National candidate, Mark Blumsky.
Have plenty of fun, but some advise from someone whose been around for a while:
- Lecturers and tutors don’t buy the “but I got wasted the night before” excuse.
- Cramming at the last minute is about as much fun as a cold meat pie.
- Don’t skip lectures and go to the pub unless you want to fail. Go afterwards by all means.
- Don’t turn up to lectures drunk – you’ll make a goose of yourself.
- Keep up with your readings because you’ll never catch up otherwise.
- A Google search is not the same as academic research.
- Most importantly, keep safe – look out for yourself and your friends.
Your university years will be some of the most enjoyable and fulfilling of your life. Make the most of it while you can.
All the very best with your studies.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Long Time, No Blog
Friday, February 04, 2005
No Blogging for Day
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Chinese New Year
Great night, with a fantastic dinner. Our host, Alvin Wu, was very hospitable, making for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Got the chance to talk to quite a few international students about their experiences here at Victoria University. Almost everyone said that the fee rises of 2004 were really hitting them hard. Unlike domestic students, international students don't have a student loan scheme (no matter how fucked up it is) to fall back on. Many are on scholarships from their home country, and have a certain amount of money to pay for fees and to live. When fees go up, they have to seek out alternative sources of income, which is really hard when they can only work for 15 hours a week. Many are forced to work for below minimum wage in order to pay their fees. Others have to give up, and head home.
This is something that has to change. I will be working this year to get Victoria University to grandparent international fees, so that those students that are already at Victoria can budget for three years of study, and not have to worry about fees going up. At the same time, fees will still go up for new international students.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Election Prediction #1
This is intended to stimulate debate - I know in several parts of this I'm not right, but I'm interested in what everyone else thinks. It should not be regarded with any authority what so ever. Although, having said that, I have put quite a bit of thought into it, spending most of last night researching it and writting it up.
This is based on the margin at the last election, and my observations. It's taken from the perspective of a Wellington-based student activist. Please bare in mind I am bias towards the left leaning parties, so this will probably reflect that (although I have tryed to be as neutral as possible).
And the math at the bottom of the post is very very rough.
(r) indicates that the sitting MP is retiring.
So here goes:
Seats Labour should keep:
- Aoraki - Jim Sutton - despite Young Labour upsetting the locals, Sutton should have no problems here.
- Auckland Central - Judith Tizard - the left-wing strong hold - Pansy Wong will have to pull out a huge effort here to win.
- Christchurch Central - Tim Barrent - continuing the Labour tradition of over 50 years.
- Christchurch East - Lianne Delziel - former cabinet minister will have to seriously blow it to lose a 14,000 vote majority.
- Dunedin North - Pete Hodgson - Hodgson will have no worries defending his 10,000 vote majority in the student stronghold.
- Dunedin South - David Benson-Pope - With high-profile promotions into cabinet, Benson-Pope will easily hold Michael Cullen's former seat.
- East Coast - Janet Mackey (r) - Unless there is a violent swing towards the Maori Party, it would seem unlikely that Moana Mackey will loose her mother's seat.
- Banks Peninsula - Ruth Dyson - with sitting MP's David Carter and Rod Donald standing against Dyson, she might be in trouble with a 2002 4,000 vote majority, but she should pull through.
- Hamilton West - Martin Gallagher - Gallagher should pull through here.
- Hutt South - Trevor Mallard - although Mallard drew a bit of stick over school closures, he should keep this one.
- Ikaroa-Rawhiti - Parakura Horomia - the Minister of Maori Affairs should re-win his seat, although it won't be as easy with the Maori Party on the up
- Mana - Winnie Laban - Laban will have no worries here
- Mangere - Taito Phillip Field - with a 14,000 vote majority, Field should have no problems in David Lange's former seat
- Manukau East - Ross Robertson - No problems here for the long serving Robertson
- Manurewa - George Hawkins - despite calls for his sacking earlier in the term, Hawkins should hold on here.
- Maungakiekie - Mark Gosche - Gosche had a huge majority in 2002 despite being held back by a family illness. Should be a repeat performance
- Mount Albert - Helen Clark - with a 16,000 vote majority in 2002, the Prime Minister should hold on (just...)
- Mount Roskill - Phil Goff - standing against two sitting MP's (Ogilvie and Wang) Goff may see his 13,000 vote majority drop a little, but not much.
- Napier - Russell Fairbrother - reasonably high profile backbench will keep this seat.
- New Lynn - David Cunliffe - promotions and a high profile will see Cunliffe carry this one.
- New Plymouth - Harry Duynhoven - Huge majority for Duynhoven will see him return, despite disputes over citizenship
- Northcote - Ann Hartley - The former Mayor of Northcote borough should hold this one.
- Otaki - Darren Hughes - Parliament's youngest MP should win, although the high profile National Candidate (Nathan Guy) already has a presence in the electorate, and could be a threat.
- Palmerston North - Steve Maharey - large majority in 2002 despite being Minister of Tertiary Education in a university seat
- Rimutaka - Paul Swain - despite the best efforts of Nick Kelly, Swain will keep this one.
- Rongatai - Annette King - easy win for King
- Rotorua - Steve Chadwick - high profile back bench MP will hold this one
- Tainui - Nanaia Mahuta - won a lot of respect in Maoridom when she voted against the foreshore and seebed bill, so should re-win this seat.
- Tamaki-Makaurau - John Tamihere - despite controversy over his Waiparara Trust goldern handshake, the high-profile Tamihere should hold this one
- Taupo - Mark Burton - no problems for cabinet minister Burton, over former Taumauranui mayor, Weston Kirton.
- Te Atatu - Chris Carter - high profile even before the Civil Union Bill, and will easily win this seat
- Te Tai Tokarau - Dover Samiels - controversial Samiels should fend off challenge from even more controversial Hone Harawira.
- Tukituki - Rick Barker - No problems here for cabinet minister Barker
- Waimakariri - Clayton Cosgrove - Cosgrove will hold Mike Moore's former seat
- Waitakere - Lynn Pilay - Pilay will win this seat through demographics only, having a very low profile
- West Coast/Tasman - Damien O'Connor - the birthplace of the Labour party, O'Connor will hold this one.
- Whanganui - Jill Pettis - unlikely the senior government whip will face too much of a challenge in this seat
Seats National should keep:
- Bay of Plenty - Tony Ryall - senior National MP, no problems
- Clevedon - Judith Collins - seems to have effectively built her profile in her first term
- Clutha/Southland - Bill English - former National leader will have no problems keeping this one.
- Coromandel - Sandra Gouldie - with a reasonable majority in 2002 over sitting MP (Ginette Fitzsimons), Gouldie will hold this one.
- East Coast Bays - Murray McCully - One of the more marginal seats in 2002, National's go-to guy should easily carry this one.
- Helensville - John Key - up-and-comer of the National Party, Key will not face competition from within like he did in 2002, and should hugely extend his majority.
- Ilam - Gerry Brownlee - high-profile deputy National leader will easily build on his 2002 majority.
- Kaikoura - Lynda Scott (r) - new-comer Colin King should pick up where Scott left off
- Nelson - Nick Smith - despite an embarrassingly short stint as deputy leader, Smith will hold this one.
- North Shore - Wayne Mapp - No worries here for Mapp in one of the wealthiest electorates in the country.
- Northland - David Carter - No worries here, in one of National's safest seats
- Pakuranga - Maurice Williamson - A safe seat for National, with rogue National MP against Young Labour President Micheal Woods.
- Piako - Lindsay Tisch - another extremely safe seat for National
- Port Waikato - Paul Hutchison - see above...
- Rakaia - Brian Connell - the low-profile Connell will safely keep Shipley's former seat
- Rangitikei - Simon Power - up-and-comer Power will easily hold this one.
- Rodney - Lockwood Smith - long-serving Smith will easily hold this seat.
- Taranaki/King Country - Shane Ardern - low profile backbench MP will hold this safe National seat.
- Whangarei - Phil Heatley - safe National seat for Heatley, easy win
Seats New Zealand First should keep:
- Tauranga - Winston Peters - Peters is ever popular in Tauranga, although locally-popular National candidate Bob Clarkson could make a dent in his majority.
Seats The Progressives should keep:
- Wigram - Jim Anderton - Anderton should hold on there, possibly turning him into the new lone-ranger of New Zealand politics.
Seats United Future should keep:
- Ohirau-Belmont - Peter Dunne - said to be the most popular electorate MP in the country, Dunne will hold this one, ganuteeing United Future a place in parliament.
Seats Maori Party should keep:
- Te Tai Hauauru - Tariana Turia - Party leader will hold this seat after a farsicle by-election
Maginal Seats - Seats to Watch:
- Epsom - Richard Worth - with ACT fighting for their life, Rodney Hide will be desperate to win a seat to remain in Parliament. National will have learnt their lesson from Wellington Central in 1996, and will be unlikely to pull Worth, who should narrowly win this.
- Hamilton East - Diane Yates - with only a slim majority in 2002, low profile Yates will be in trouble here if National pull out a strong candidate.
- Invercargill - Mark Peck (r) - with Peck retiring, it is highly likely this seat will revert back to former National MP Eric Roy.
- Otago - David Parker - a true blue seat, which Labour should never have theoretically won, and is unlikely to keep with the low profile Parker in 2005.
- Tamaki - Clem Simich (r) - high profile (and outspoken) school principal Allen Peachey should hold Muldoon's former seat, although it was marginal in 2002
- Te Tai Tonga - Mahara Okaroa - This will really come down to who is better resourced and staffed in the country's biggest electorate.
- Waiariki - Mita Ririnui - low profile MP could face a serious challenge from a Maori Party candidate
- Wairarapa - Georgina Buyer (r) - this will be a hard slog for Denise McKenzie to keep this seat Labour
- Wellington Central - Marian Hobbs - a high profile race between Hobbs and former Mayor Mark Blumsky, this will come down to the wire. Will very much depend on what the Greens do, but I'm predicting a wafer thin win for Labour.
This means, on present polling: With a one-seat overhang
Labour - 44.8% - 55 seats (38 electorate / 17 list) includes Wellington Central
National - 35.3% - 44 seats (25 electorate / 19 list) includes: Wairarapa, Tamaki, Otago, Invercargill, Hamilton East, and Epsom.
Greens - 6.9% - 8 seats (8 list)
New Zealand First - 4.7% - 6 seats (1 electorate / 5 list) providing Peters wins Tauranga
United Future - 3% - 4 seats (1 electorte / 3 list) providing Dunne wins Ohirau-Belmont
ACT - 1.6% - 0 seats
Maori Party - 1.5% - 3 seats (3 electorate) includes: Te Tai Tonga and Waiariki
Progressives - 0% - 1 seat (1 electorate) providing Jim Anderton wins Wigram
Obviously, this will change as the election campaign starts.
First 31 Days of the Administration
In 100 days, Franklin Roosevelt built a welfare state. In my first 31 days I have:
- Smoothly managed the merger between SAWCE and VUWSA, and established a VUWSA presence at the Karori Campus, including office services, commercial services, and a small orientation.
- Logistically organized an NZUSA conference, which went almost hitch free. For the first time in three years, the conference was given a powhiri on Te Herenga Waka marae.
- Begun re-building relations between VUWSA and the Vice Chancellors office. I don't believe that the guy at the top is really someone you want to piss off without reason. Admittedly this is much easier to do with a new Vice Chancellor.
- Begun re-building relations between AUS and VUWSA. The staff union has to be on side with the student union, or else we're going no where in a hurry.
- Become a media whore.
- 2 - Exec meetings
- 1 - NZUSA FedEx meetings
- 0 - Salient President's columns
- 0 - Exec resignations
- 0 - Staff resignations
- 0 - Exec members who are not talking to me
- 2.5 - Press releases
- 1 - Television appearances
- 2 - Radio appearances (1 Newstalk ZB, 1 National Radio)
- 7 - Newspaper quotes (2 Dominion Post, 1 Otago Daily Times/NZPA, 1 Western News, 1 Cook Strait News, 2 Wellingtonian)
- 2 - Days off (bereavement leave)
- 1 - Official functions
- 7:30pm - average time of night left the office
- 8:45am - average time of arrival at the office
- 45 - Average number of emails per hour
- 35 - Average number of spam emails per hour
- 0 - Effigies burnt
- 0 - Defimation suits
- 0 - Meetings with the Vice Chancellor (although his secretary reads my blog - hi Christine)
- 0 - Words written on my thesis
- 1 - Run-ins with former Presidents
- 2 - Bridges burnt
Of course, there is still a lot to do, and I don't plan to slow down.
As I have said before, my exec are a fantastic team. Despite some initial reservations, they are all extremely hard working (with one exception), and great to have around the office.