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Rep Groups – The Unsung Ones

Geoff Hayward



So, welcome back one and all; how’s things eh? VUWSA has been busily toiling away, serving students and so forth. I continue our focus on VUWSA in my columns. This week is the Representative Groups. According to the VUWSA constitution a Representative Organisation shall:

(a) represent the interests of a defined portion of the student population at Victoria University of Wellington;
(b) accept some devolved representative function otherwise performed by the Association; and
(c) have policies and undertake activities that are consistent with the goals of the Association.
VUWSA recognises the following as representative groups:
• The Victoria University Post-Graduate Students’ Association (PGSA), representing all post-graduate students;
• The Victoria University of Wellington Law Students’ Society Incorporated (LSS), representing all law students;
• STUDIO, representing all students in the faculty of Architecture and Design;
• Mature Students Network (MSN), representing all mature students;
• UniQ, representing gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, and intersex students;
• International Students Council (ISC), representing all international students;
• VicComm, representing all commerce and administration students;
• Pasifika Council, representing all Pacific Island students;
• Can-Do, representing all students with disabilities;
• Crèche Parents Committee, representing all student users of the university crèche.
In practice, there is a great deal of difference between how and what these groups do for students. Nevertheless VUWSA understands that there is a need for specific groups to be heard within such a diverse student population, and that sometimes, the best approach is to allow groups to take on the task of representing these groups, supported by VUWSA but having a level of autonomy, transparently and democratically representing students.
It’s a relationship of expediency and reciprocity, one of give and take. From the VUWSA perspective, there’s an acknowledgement of the relative independence of each Rep Group, in their day to day affairs. However as we contribute to their budget, in many cases being the largest contributor, means we have a duty to keep track of their accountability of student funds. Similarly, there’s an acceptance of consultation between each other on issues that affect Rep Groups and those they represent. It is about maintaining the best interests of students. From the Rep Group perspective, VUWSA provides essential resources and support that they could not provide on their own easily, but because each Rep Group connects with their subset of the University Community, can engage and connect with groups more often and more readily, creating connections with VUWSA that VUWSA would struggle to build and maintain.
Rep Groups also serve a function in the official representative Councils, Boards and Committees, establishing their own rules for electing nominees internally, which VUWSA support and submit to the University for approval. In preparing for each meeting, these delegates work with VUWSA in reviewing and clarifying issues. This part has not been as successful in the past, and this year, we at VUWSA will be working to make this relationship work better for everyone.
Rep Groups also work with VUWSA on peer support groups, Orientation events and publicising our services overall. Again in practice, Rep Groups interact with VUWSA usually with the Welfare and Education programs, depending on their focus. For example, The Vice-President (Education) and the Education Office works closely with LSS, PGSA, STUDIO and VicComm, while the Vice-President (Welfare) works with the rest.
Rep Groups are in fact an unsung part of VUWSA, but are so vital in helping VUWSA operate, and are really an unsung contributor in serving students. It’s about time they got thanked…thanks!
PS: A few of events are coming up soon. One is the Graduation Ball, and the Threesome on Blair Street. Buy your tickets now. Don’t wait. The other is the annual “Mo month of May”. Get growing lads, and don’t forget that you can buy fake moustaches if you have trouble growing. Get to the Mount St Bar for special discounts for our brushy friends, and remember, it’s for charity.