Monday, May 23, 2005

President's Column - Big Huge Ups

I would like to use this week’s President’s Column to say something to all those students and staff who marched on Parliament last Tuesday.


Students and staff united, opposing fee increases, allowance ineligibility, and low staff pay. The turn out was awesome. It was, by far, the biggest student protest at Victoria this century. There are a number of people that deserve thanks.

First and foremost, those that put in the hard yards before, with lecture speaking, leafleting and the like: Andrew Kirton, Camilla Belich, Karen Price and Lisa Woods from the New Zealand University Students’ Association, Michael Gilchrist and David Weatherburn of the Association of University Staff, Mary-Jane Waru from Ngai Tauira, Cormack Denton from the Commerce Students Assocaition, and James Mason from the Law Students’ Society.

Chris Knox for playing in the Quad beforehand, and Joel Cosgrove for organising Chris to play.

Those clubs and Rep Groups that helped drum up support: Vic Greens, the Fijian Students’ Association, Campus Left, the Geology Society, and Vic Rowing, to name but a few.

People from other Associations and Unions who showed up on the day: Students’ Associations from Massey University (Palmerston North and Wellington), Whitirea, and WelTech, as well as FinSec, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, and the Public Service Association.

And, most of all, all those Vic students and staff that showed up on the day. It wouldn’t have been a success without you all.It was a huge effort. No one let the weather or the proximity of exams get in their way. estimated there were as many as 1,000 people there, but I think the true number rests at somewhere around 650.

It doesn’t end here, though. This is an election year, and we have to let the Government know that we will not rest until fees have stopped rising, the number of students receiving an allowance is going up, and staff are being paid a decent wage.

Later this year, student debt will hit $8 billion. This is yet another example of the Government not following through on their promise to make tertiary education more affordable. We will be protesting this again, closer to the date (which is currently undisclosed). Students and staff have to unite again and make this as big an event as, if not bigger than, last Tuesday.

In the mean time, congratulations to all those that graduated last week. I was immensely proud to sit on stage and clap for all 1,500 graduates in the five ceremonies.

Also, all the very best with your exams. If you’ve put in the hard yards, you’ll surely come out on top. If you haven’t, I hope you’re lucky.

Have a good holiday, and I look forward to seeing you all back here for Re-Orientation in July.
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