“Open letter concerning upcoming VUWSA election”
To all VUWSA members,
From the Permanent Staff Members @ VUWSA
As a result of the impending election, much debate has been made on the role of VUWSA, particularly the Executive. While criticism has been leveled at the behavior of VUWSA this year, little coverage has been made concerning the valuable services provided by VUWSA staff. VUWSA staff include the Education Coordinator, the Clubs Development Officer, the Advertising Manager and administration officers, and work with the VUWSA Executive to provide advocacy, social opportunities, transportation and entertainment.
As VUWSA staff members, we believe we are loyal, hard working people with invaluable institutional knowledge of VUW. We maintain strong committed relationships with VUW students and staff, community groups and businesses. With students as our focus, we are apolitical. We care about the future of VUWSA and as a result we wish to make you aware of the drastic operational changes proposed by the “A-Team” in the upcoming election. We consider that their policies would have considerably negative implications for VUWSA staff members and the services they deliver to students. The budget campaign of the A-Team advocates the removal of several permanent positions and vital student services.
EDUCATION AND ADVOCACY
The full time VUWSA Education Coordinator is a professional position requiring a high level of integrity, trust and confidentiality with VUW staff and students. The EC provides independent Advocacy services and support from low level through to very sensitive matters, including PhD issues through to allegations of serious misconduct, e.g. cheating and plagiarism.
If the A-Team is elected they intend to provide better Advocacy services through the elected executive. Could this mean a move to exec members handling Advocacy for sensitive issues for students? Will this also mean the removal of the Education Coordinator’s position? Would you want the VUWSA executive (A-team or any other) handling your academic grievances or enquiries? A practical example follows.
Sarah (not real name), in her final trimester, came to the Education Coordinator in a stressed state, crying and upset after a “D” for a mandatory assignment she failed to hand in on time, due to not being able contact her lecturer or tutor to ask for an extension. The lecturer was very dismissive and refused to accept Sarah’s legitimate circumstances, and would not accept a medical certificate, as the extension was not prearranged. Other school staff only advised Sarah to refer to the lecturer. Sarah became frustrated because she could not sort it out despite exceptional circumstances, and felt she did not have the opportunity to communicate effectively to the lecturer. The EC helped Sarah resolve the issue. It was a clear misunderstanding by a lecturer who was stressed and dealing with 100 other students. Once the EC and Sarah had a meeting with the lecturer, the stress was dissolved and a happy ending was achieved for the student.
The Clubs Development Officer (CDO) is responsible for assisting clubs in starting up, planning, fundraising, event management, promotion, resource provision, grant applications and general administration support and advice. Over 60 affiliated sports and cultural clubs, with a combined membership of over 3500 Vic students, have directly benefited from the support of this staff member.
In addition, the CDO is responsible for Team VIC competing at the NZ University Games, NZ University Snow Games, NZ University Cricket Champs, NZ University Triathlon Champs and NZ University Sailing Champs. In 2007 Victoria University won the national overall trophy for these events and over the last three years has become the highest performing university at the NZ University Games.
The CDO is also responsible for the coordination of the prestigious annual Victoria University Blues Awards.
If tangible financial and human resources were made unavailable to clubs, it would result in clubs providing considerably less for its members, and increase the likeliness of clubs disappearing. If financial resources were withheld to athletes participating in NZ University sporting events, it would increase the financial constraint to students’ participation, thus impeding the future success of these teams.
Reducing the activities budget can only reduce the amount of pulling power for performers. Sponsorship is already at a premium and proposing to rely fully on sponsorship and ticket sales will have one of two outcomes; expensive tickets or lower quality performers. Neither are viable or fun for students wanting to see good bands at the prices they can afford.
Since January 2007, the staff Office Administrators on the Kelburn, Karori and Pipitea campuses have given out a total of 5930 bus tickets, sold 279 car parks, 290 lockers and assisted the Welfare Vice President with more than 180 food parcels to students in hardship up to 13 September. Besides these bare statistics there are many services which have been offered, from answering queries to booking BBQs and vans for clubs, along with providing a first stop shop to anyone that has a need or needs. Any reduction in operational budget can only equate in a reduction of the quality of these services.
ADVERTISING AND SPONSORSHIP
This role includes managing the planning, development and implementation and generation of some of the revenue at VUWSA. The advertising responsibilities therein include identifying, pitching and securing new advertising revenue opportunities for Salient, VUWSA, VUWSA Clubs, Student Orientation weeks, ‘VUW Blues Awards’, etc.
Most recently a reciprocal agreement has been brokered and closed with one of Wellington’s largest bars, the Establishment on Courtenay, engendering a five-figure sum deal for Team VIC.
Student Orientation weeks, VUWSA, Team VIC events and the ‘Blues Awards’ etc require skilled management in the planning, organising and co-ordination of sponsorship and so many integral aspects. This staff member also works closely with the VUWSA Campus Activities Coordinator and the Clubs Development Officer in coordination of other VUWSA staff to ensure seamless delivery of events.
When students vote, they are also voting in a new employer for the staff of VUWSA.
Please consider the raised issues when you vote this week,
The permanent staff members at VUWSA.