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Idiot’s guide to Student Politics

Denny Lamb



Well, by now you’ve been at University for over half a year. Yes, that’s right, you heard it here first! Well done. It’s a feat that even many smart people can’t manage. You’ve no doubt by now realised that there is more to university than just going to class and writing essays. There are sports, clubs, media (like news and celebrity gossip and stuff), and politics.
University is just like a little real world. If you like to pretend you and your friends are smurfs, or snorks, you are more than justified. University students are smurfs in the eyes of the real world, but this column isn’t about smurfs (stay tuned for that column!). This column is about student life and, most specifically (sorry, most lots), about student politics.
Now, if you read the rest of Salient, you’ll realise much of it is dedicated to student politics. Ever heard of VUWSA? That’s your student organization.
They represent you as students. They have a little club called the ‘executive’ (which is French for ‘little club’) who get together and decide how best to spend the money you give them. Any one of you or your snork buddies can be a part of this club – you just have to convince enough people to vote for you when there is an election on – and, of course, be nominated. They have these once a year and I’m fairly sure there’s one coming up pretty soon. You might be thinking, “I can’t manage that sort of workload on top of all these essays I have to write!” Believe me, I wouldn’t worry too much. In fact, student politics attract more idiots than any other club or group on campus.
Where else do you get to play dress-up and make use of other people’s money? Student politicians make very few actual decisions and spend most of your money on beer. Yeah, I know, a club where you get paid to drink free beer! If only the coach would let you guys have a few beers with the money from the orange quarters fund.
Firstly, though, you have to make an important decision about your political views. Check out this quick survey.
Q1. Do poor people:
(A) Need your help to find financial stability?
(B) Have equal opportunities to the rest of us?
(C) Make you sick?
(D) Live under the sea with the snorks?
Q2. Global warming:
(A) Can only be prevented if I grow dreads and shower less.
(B) Is a problem we need to take seriously before our planet is destroyed.
(C) Is a myth. Burn more fuel! Kill more whales!
(D) Is a wicked film starring Nicholas Cage and John Travolta, where one is a cop, and the other is a criminal, and they switch faces using plastic surgery that is way too advanced, considering the film was made in 1997.
Now, results! If you answered A for both, you’re a left wing hippie. That means you vote for the greens and drink foul tasting fair trade coffee. If you answered both B’s, you are slightly left wing, but hover around the middle of the chart. This means you probably used to vote for Labour, but now that Helen Clark is old and gross (and John Key is young and sexy), you might vote National – they have the same policies now, anyway. If you voted both C’s, you are a right wing extremist! This means you support the war in Iraq, and believe Hitler had a good thing going on. If you answered D for both, you’re reading the right column. For any other permutation of letters, for all intents and purposes, you are dead to me.
Now that you know your political flavour, get your mates to vote for you in the upcoming election. No point in campaigning – only about 5 per cent of students vote – so just send a bulk text to everyone you know and, sure enough, you’ll be the next president. You have one advantage over most student politicians – you have friends. If you’ve followed your current executive, you’ll realise that next year you’ll have big shoes to fill. You can’t be afraid to just leap in headfirst and try new and exciting things. Sure, communism may have failed, but you can make it work! You can’t be afraid that licking urine off the street will make you look like a weirdo. Sure, you wouldn’t normally lick up someone else’s urine, or your own urine for that matter. In fact, why you would lick anything off the street in the first place is beyond me. But that’s what being a student politician on a Saturday night in town, on a junket, paid for by students who you are representing, is all about. It may not be pretty but, then again, politics never is.