Sunday, November 27, 2005

Student Politics Sans Greenbrook

Xavier has written a great piece (thanks largely to sleep deprivation) on his to-do list for 2006, one item of which is
To not be involved in Student Politics in any way, shape or form.
I have known Xavier for some time now, both through student politics and Young Labour. I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for him as an intelligent, passionate, talented politician. I know he will succeed in whatever he takes on. I think I first met him during the AUSA compulsory Membership campaign, and have run into each other ever since.

He states that he will not be running for AUSA President in 2007 - I can sort of understand why too. AUSA President is a completely different kettle of fish than almost every other President. For a start, they are not (ex officio) a member of University Council - one of the biggest parts of my job. They also have significant commercial responsibilities, which most other associations (with the exception of UCSA) don't - cafes, bars etc. But, perhaps most importantly, thanks to the wonders of voluntary student membership, they have to waste significant effort (not to mention money and resources) to recruit members. While all the other Presidents are working on Orientation, and getting to know their members, the AUSA President and Executive are pissing around signing members up.

This is not to say that Xavier wouldn't be a good AUSA President - he would a fantastic AUSA President, and - dare I say it - NZUSA Co-President.

He raises an interesting point, something I realized about halfway through last year, and has been re-enforced this year - AUSA (and other associations) are bigger than their current leaders. AUSA demonstrates this best of all: each year there is a gasp as another relative unknown is elected President, several people preach that the end is nigh, - and things turn out all right. Despite all the talk of Muppets, or fuckwits, I know that VUWSA will be just fine next year, and for many years to come. It has great staff, and a history as old as the University.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

VUW Blackboard Review

Website surveys for students and academic staff are now available on Blackboard - Log on in the usual way and the survey information and link will appear immediately below the welcome message. All students logging on to Blackboard for any reason will get a message encouraging them to complete the survey. The survey will be available until Friday 9 December.

VUWSA is currently involved in a review of the evaluations which each student fills in at the end of each semester. I'm a little annoyed about the timing of this survey. Its crucial that you put this around your networks and get students to respond ASAP - it is a very quick survey!

I have concerns about the current student evaluations, the timing of evaluations, the structure of surveys and questions, the use of information, does anything change? The graded results are sent to HOS’s and Lecturers and your written results are only viewed by the lecturer.There are issues with the effectiveness of this.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Letter to the Listener

This was published in this week's Listener.


Dear Sir,

I find it quite fitting that the same edition of the Listener which features Professor Stuart McCutcheon ( University of Auckland Vice Chancellor) as number 34 on the "Power List" also, on page 39, features a full page advertisement for Victoria University.

When Professor McCutcheon was appointed Victoria University Vice Chancellor, he was viewed as the "Knight in Shinning Armour", and, to his credit, he did turn the University's finances and enrolment figures around. However, one regrettable legacy of McCutcheon's reign at Victoria was escalating advertising expenditure, which in his last year increased by over $200,000 (about 25%). This was despite the fact that staff were pleading for a well deserved pay rise, the university facilities are under-resourced and dilapidated, and students faced a fee increase of 4.5%. This trend has been continued by Professor Pat Walsh, McCutcheon's successor.

As an academic institution, it's mildly ironic that Victoria University has failed to acknowledge the mountain of academic literature which states that such advertising is not having its desired outcomes. It's all very well for McCutcheon to secure an extra $57million, but it's worthless if it is wasted on advertising. For the sake of the sector, I hope that the new Minister for Tertiary Education puts an end to these ludicrous spending habits.

In the mean time, I can sleep easy in the knowledge that McCutcheon, who "alienated staff by opposing union pay demands" is piped at the post on the "Power List" by Andrew Little, General Secretary of New Zealand's largest trade union (and 1987 Victoria University Students' Association President).

It makes you think.

Jeremy Greenbrook

Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (inc)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Lions Club of Karori

Last Wednesday, I accepted an invitation to address the fortnightly meeting of the Lions Club of Karori. The Lions are interested in setting up a club on campus, and wanted to sound me out.

I initially feared the meeting, pandering to my stereotype of a Lions Club member as retired businessmen - the sort of people who don't necessarily share the same political view point as myself - but I was pleasantly surprised. It was an enjoyable evening, accompanied by a good meal.

I spoke for about ten minutes on what VUWSA does, and what it is like to be a student in the 21st Century, and fielded two questions; one on the stress levels of students, and another on management salaries.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Conor Roberts is the 2006 NZUSA Co-President

He defeated Shiju easily - 52 to 20.

He will do a good job, I look forward to his being in Wellington next year.

NZUSA Co-President Election

Today is the second NZUSA Co-President election. I posted about the first election here. I will be updating this post via the wonders of the 21st Century - wireless Woosh broadband!!

I'll update this as the election goes...

PS. Emily wants me to mention her - she's hanging around like a bad smell. We hold VUWSA's 11 votes. WSU are being teleconferenced in. Actually, I hold no votes - I'm media, and therefore, obviously, impartial and unbiased. Also, I'm here because Jeremy basically begged me to come with him so that we could sit next to each other and giggle. He promised me there would be Internet pornography involved. So far, no sign, but I'll keep you informed of updates in that area. - Emily

10:20 Update: Shiju Pushpamangalam (WSU President) is going first. His presentation is slightly more swept up than last time, although he seems to have missed the point (or he's taking a long time to get to it...).

10:30 Update: Ok, he's got to his vision for NZUSA. A strategic plan?? What a cliche.

To his credit, he is actually able to articulate what a strategic plan is and what his would entail, whihch beats a lot of business people - not to mention the University! - Emily.

10:33 Update: He wants to lobby NZVCC!!! Good luck buddy.

10 points for enthusiasm though... - Emily

10:38 Update: Commitment to Te Mana Akonga - define tokenism? He also wants to change the name of NZUSA - despite the fact it's 76 years old. Inerestingly, he doesn't have any ideas as to what to change it to.

He wants a website! Maybe Jeremy and I could run it, given we are clearly awesome at this. And mostly unemployable. And not really fit for outside company, so should probably work side-by-side forever. - Emily

10:43 Update: Nick Kelly has turned up. Nice of you to join us, Nick.

It could be worse, Jeremy - your successor could have fucked off to Melbourne, leaving you to come to crap like this. Oh well, at least I get to open James' mail. - Emily

10:48 Update: Shiju has just finished. Questions now...

10:50 Update: From WSU: What is your stand-point on the Te Mana Akonga MoU. He fully supports the MoU, but fails to go into any details.

10:53 Update: From ISAW: What are the 3 main issues facing politechs? Funding. Views of the polys aren't taken as seriously as other institutions.

10:54 Update: From OPSA: At what point does the value-for-money exercise get in the way of removing the barriers of education? This is a mixed issue.

10:56 Update: From ASA: How do you see yourself instituting change? You have to seperate yourself from the committees you sit on.

11:00 Update: He's laying into his Vice President now, talking about how he doesn't understand that the Student Movement isn't what it was in the 1970's.

11:04 Update: Conor Roberts is up now. Much simpler and confident than Shiju.

I think Conor would be far better with the media. Like Salient. Or, you know, 3 News. That sounds kind of glib, but it's actually a really important part of the Co-Presidents' roles to be media-savvy and quick with a soundbite. Camilla in particular has been a very public face of NZUSA this year. - Emily

11.11 Update: Just when you think you like a guy, he has to go and say something like "ordinary New Zealanders". I thought he was the President of Young Labour! Disturbing National Party rhetoric coming through here... - Emily

11:14 Update: Conor is much more in touch with the New Zealand political climate than Shiju. He's going more into details regarding polytechs, fees, loans, and allowances.

11:21 Update: "NZUSA is a hub of relations... working with our Union friends." David Farrar will love that one!

Conor is doing a much better sell of himself as an altruist who really truly cares about students and issues pertaining to them than Shiju did. He's a bit more fresh-faced and earnest. Might be a put-on, but I'm totally buying it. - Emily

11:25 Update: How could you not vote for a guy who is prepared to stand up there and say "Politics is my life"??? - Emily

11:31 Update: Conor is answering all the questions well, with wit and knowledge. He's just given us a rendition of Tu Tira Mai Nga Iwi - very good.

11:34 Update: Conor has now left and we are voting.

11:40 Update: Votes are counted, the candidates are being called back into the room. We are waiting for Waikato to get their shit together.

And Pandoro's savoury muffins are officially da bomb. - Emily

11:44 Update: The results are thus: Shiju 20, Conor 52, No vote 1. Conor is elected.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The VUWSA Has Beens' Bench

A group of out-going VUWSA exec members and Salient staffers have started a blog for us to slag off the 2006 exec and Salient. It stemmed from this article in Salient.

It's called the VUWSA Has-Beens' Bench, and it's URL is

We welcome any contributors, but you must have served on the VUWSA exec or been a regular contributor to Salient this century...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Victoria PR Cock Up #2

Fresh on the heels of the Salient fiasco, VUW has once again buggered things up PR-wise. This time, the fault is (admittedly) not entirely theirs.

Yesterday, Michelle Quirke from the Dominion Post called me regarding a press release Victoria University had supposedly put out. I hadn't see it (VUW media releases are posted here, and normally sent to me), it was posted here on Scoop, but has now been removed. Luckily, I saved a copy - it is at the end of this post.

Only two days after raising university fees, they put out a media release talking about their latest advertising campaign. Now, Public Relations 101, people - after talking about how hard up the university is, how government funding isn't cutting it, how student fees have to go up in order to maintain a quality institution, you don't go bragging about your latest purchase, do you?

My press release is here and Michelle's article is here, and was on page 9 of the DominionPost today.

I was in the Hunter Building this morning for a disciplinary hearing, and ran into the University PR (or, as they put it, "Reputation Management") manager, Jude Urlich. I get along quite well with Jude (her putting the credit card on the bar at the BackBencher at the VC's Christmas party for me and a few Salient staffers was an ideal icebreaker, I guess...), but she was fuming this morning - and, for once, not at me (although it was my press release which brought it to her attention).

It turns out that the press release wasn't actually theirs, although Scoop (and basically everybody else, including Michelle Quirke) read it as theirs. It was put out by Robbins Brandt Richter Wellington, the advertising company which is contracted to handle the VUW advertising campaign. Examples of their work can be seen in the Listener. It features MAD magazine fold-in style ads, in Victoria's "Makes You Think" style ads.

I don't know weather these advertisements were lowering Victoria University's intellectual standards, or raising Alfred E. Newmans.

However, the big question has to be: How long until someone's head rolls...?

Uni Advertising Campaign Goes To Extra Lengths
Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 5:52 pm
Press Release: Victoria University of Wellington
1 November 2005

Victoria University Press Release

Robbins Brandt Richter Wellington creates new levels of involvement in its advertising campaign for Victoria University.

The Wellington Office of integrated advertising,direct marketing and relationship management firm Robbins Brandt Richter has just launched a major new advertising campaign for client Victoria University.

The campaign continues the theme ‘It makes you think’– and focuses on complex issues such as cultural copyright, environment, dietary ethics amedical progressess - linking each to the specific course areas offered by the University.

While the campaign has been highly successful ovthe previousous 3 years via its use of TV, cineand busbus-back media, this year sees a major innovatiin thethe use of print media. Each magazine advertisement contains a hidden message…a message that is revealed only when the advertisement page is folded together. The method of folding the page has been appropriated from MAD magazine and is used to demonstrate the promise that Victoria University “makes you think”. It does this in a highly involving and entertaining manner that requires direct interaction with the ad by its audience.

The series of four full page magazines ads are running nationally supported with four new 15 sec TVC and cinema commercials. “This campaign has been punching significantly above its media weight and has been out performing higher spending competitors. The magazine component adds a whole new level of memorability and talkablity to the overall campaign and wilto keep tokeep the campaign fresh and evolving”, saysparsonn Parkyn, RBR Group Account Director respfor VictoriaVictoria University’s business.

Robbins Brandt Richter is an integrated advertising, direct marketing and relationship management firm whose goal is to provide clients with highly creative, innovative and seamlessly integrated marketing based solutions that drive tangible and mebusiness resultsssresults.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Media Release: Advertising Campaign MAD-ness Shows Contempt for Students

Advertising Campaign MAD-ness Shows Contempt for Students

Victoria University 's latest advertising campaign show management has no regard for students, says Jeremy Greenbrook, President of the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association.

"Only two days after the University Council voted to raise student fees, management announces that it is launching its latest highly expensive advertising campaign" says Greenbrook. "Management pleaded poverty in order to ram through an increase, yet there's obviously enough money for high-cost advertising."

Fees at Victoria will be going up by 5% across the board, with another 5% in Humanities and Education. This latest advertising campaign is in the style of MAD Magazine.

"This shows contempt for student's financial situation" says Greenbrook. "It Make's You Think? I doubt this campaign would even challenge Alfred E. Newman to think much"

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