Home About

Eye on Exec 2007: The Year That Was

Jenna Powell



Upon inspection of the lyrics of the Muppets’ theme song, ‘The Muppet Show’, there are some lyrics that will strike a chord with anyone who has followed Vic’s student politics, or attended an exec meeting, this year.
“Why do we always come here
I guess we’ll never know
It’s like a kind of torture
To have to watch the show”
Bitching, gossiping, self-worship and in-jokes served with an abundance of hummus and crackers were the cornerstones of this year’s exec. However, some people may wonder if they really were that incompetent or if Salient is just a dirty tabloid. I would suggest that the two may not be mutually exclusive. Let’s all huddle together, get cosy and take a trip down memory lane to remember what the exec got right, and laugh as we reminisce about those things they got so, so wrong in ‘07.
Despite several exec members claiming that this year’s exec was “the best exec ever”, Orientation was an early sign that things were not going well. Then-Welfare Vice President Heleyni Pratley got on stage to check if a female student was genuinely willing to bare her breasts to a crowd for a prize. After the crowd laughed at her for being concerned, Pratley condemned President Geoff Hayward for not stepping in. She said Hayward was all about his ego, and that this affected his performance as President. It was not so shocking when she resigned from her position as Welfare Vice President later on in the year to get away from the muppetry and concentrate on her Honours, in a tearful and “difficult” decision.
It was, however, surprising when she ‘got her drink on’ and went berko with a vivid all over VUWSA’s walls and the Wong Sing Tai painting in the VUWSA office with the word ‘Love’. This brief but shining (and very amusing, as far as Salient was concerned) moment of silliness was partly blamed on then-Education Officer Chris Renwick for doing shit-all to help Pratley out. Renwick later resigned because of homework commitments.
Another shock was then-Acting Women’s Rights Officer Clelia Opie being ‘fired’ for making nearly $6000 worth of phone calls to psychic hotlines. We never did find out if she saw that coming. The hotline phone calls also had the exec guessing as to who could have leaked the phone records to Salient as Pratley, Hayward and Education Vice President Joel Cosgrove were the only members with official access to the information. Maybe we just snuck in while you were all arguing?
If the exec was a high school, Hayward was the kid they all picked on. Exec members publicly criticised him for his alleged communication problems and inability to do what his most vocal critic, Pratley, called “putting your arse on the line” for VUWSA. Further chaos ensued when Hayward went against the exec’s wishes and talked to the media about their bizarre conduct – even though as President he stuck up for them, leaving it in the hands of students to roll the exec, if students so wished (and, apparently, students didn’t care enough). The exec accused Hayward of prioritizing his own image over doing his job.
The exec seemed to be coming down with a severe case of ‘the-pot-calling-the kettle-black-itis’ as their own concern over how they were being portrayed by both Salient and the A-Team dominated later exec meetings. They even went so far as to write a letter to Salient publicly hating on news editor Laura McQuillan for allegedly being critical, lazy and a sensationalist. In other words, she informed Salient readers on their disorganisation, bizarre tastes, disputes and affinity for each other’s urine when drunk. Did anyone notice how quiet these exec Muppets were when Salient was being criticised for ‘unfair’ coverage of the A-Team? Some exec members even offered to write McQuillan a glowing reference. It makes you think.
The turnout for Box City and last week’s protest against the fee-rise surprised even the exec themselves. Plenty of students were happy to ‘stick it to the man’ by hanging out in their very own box house situated in the Quad. Although the event did not change student conditions, it is hard to deny that it raised awareness about how poor we all are, and is a credit to Campaigns Officer Tai Neilson and all those who helped out. However, the five percent fee-rise still went ahead despite a heap of noise, some well-rehearsed chants and free sausages last week.
Environmental Officer Tushara Kodikara diligently reminded the exec about factoring in the environment into decision-making and was a popular figure amongst campus greenies.
I know he was popular because whenever I criticized him, I would receive texts from several of his angry supporters. My favourite text so far being “I can not believe you made fun of tush…your such a dick” from one his loyal ENVI144 first years. I am unsure of how they all got my personal mobile phone number so it seems the greenies of Victoria are running a covert operation based on complex networks of intelligence – kind of like Al Qaeda.
Clubs Officer Melissa Barnard gets the award for the funniest exec member of 2007 – an award she also would have retrieved the previous two years if s\here was actually such an award. Just when I would think that nothing dramatic would happen she would threaten someone with a plastic fork or call Cosgrove “a cock.” She even listed both the University Shield and the Hunter Building on TradeMe. Top effort, Melissa, for never letting Salient have a slow news day.
This years ‘Study at Vic Day’ was a complete sausage fest, sort of, with 3000 sausages for prospective students to marvel at. Hayward ‘dropped the ball’ by purchasing $1,500 worth of sausages without anyone else’s approval which resulted in exec members being somewhat confused and angry about not being informed of this extreme unbudgeted expenditure. This was just the perfect political fodder for Cosgrove’s triumphant election to the President’s office. Cosgrove’s online campaign blog mentioned he brings little ego to the table. I must have imagined all the self-congratulatory comments he made during meetings.
Much to the dismay of most of the exec members, they were once-again labelled as ‘Muppets’, this time by right-wing election opponents The A-Team. Some exec members such as Acting Welfare Vice President Reverend Paul Danger Brown and Queer Rights Officer Rachael Wright insisted the A-Team’s negative campaign pamphlets were amusing rather than something to be taken seriously.
As this academic year comes to an end, so does my residency of hanging with the Muppets.
They may all harp on about the good they have done, but when it comes to the crunch, what are they really going to be remembered for? This Salient journalist has her money on the urine licking. Readers: Thank you for tuning in again to this year’s Muppet Show.
Opinion by Jenna Powell