It took 45 years, two decades of intense tension, legal threats, counter threats of all sorts, withholding of payments, threats of all sorts….but at Monday’s Council Meeting we will be considering a Deed and an operating agreement for the Student Union Complex (SUC)!
This agreement will cover the Student Union Building, Kelburn Campus Recreation Centre, Boyd Wilson Gymnasium, Club rooms and Field, the Salamanca Road Tennis Pavilion, and student common rooms at the Law School Karori and Te Aro; and the Rutherford House Gymnasium.
It will establish a new Student Union board that will finally have a complete terms of reference, and have powers the previous boards did not (eg approving budgets and strategic plans). It will make calls over allocations of space in the SUC and will protect existing space given to VUWSA, in a far better way than it is at present.
Negotiations over these two documents started in November last year not long after I was elected president. Since then we have had hours of negotiations on a monthly basis with the University. I’m certainly not going to take all the credit for this – VUWSA Trust negotiations rep Mark Thomas and chair of the current Student Union Board Dave Guerin have put in considerable amounts of time and effort to get these documents right. On the University’s side Jenny Bentley, the director of facilities management, and Victoria Healy, the University lawyer have also worked long and hard on these negotiations.
If these two documents pass at Monday’s Council meeting it will be a huge milestone for both VUWSA and the University. Nearly every VUWSA president for the last decade has had as a goal to resolve the Student Union dispute. To finally be at this point is an amazing feeling. Getting these two documents signed would probably be the most significant achievement VUWSA has had in many years, and would pave the way for a much brighter future for students at Victoria University.
This isn’t the end of the matter however. Once an agreement has been signed we will need to then make sure it is well implemented. Student Union manager Rainsforth Dix and I have already begun work on setting the future direction of the SUC. Members of VUWSA and the Student Union have begun talking about the future direction of the student bar and how this can be more effective in the future. We are close to having an agreement over the Team Victoria/Team Vic entity which will give improved financial and administrative support for clubs at VUW. Finally we are also working with the University over developing a new campus hub. This will include a serious upgrade of the Quad and the area at the top of the Student Union Building. The VUWSA Trust and VUWSA are very keen to use the reserve the Trust has built up in recent years to go towards improved student facilities as part of this project. Within the next two or three years we could see significant improvements and changes in the direction and delivery of student facilities and services at VUW. And in the future students will be in a stronger position to say what direction these things should go in.
Annual General Meeting (AGM) of VUWSA:
THE 2006 VUWSA AGM is being held in the Mount St Bar and Café at noon this Wednesday. At the start we’ll have a special general meeting to consider the VUWSA levy for 2007. After this we will deal with constitutional amendments (of which we have a number). There are a few nominations for life membership of the students association, exciting things like approving the 2005 annual report, and then other items of general business that students want to raise at the AGM – students can set VUWSA policy on an issue at a general meeting.
As the person who will be chairing the AGM it would be inappropriate for me to make specific comments about things that have been put forward. However there are some general comments I’d like to make about the various constitutional amendments that will be voted on. The main one is that before people vote in favour of an amendment they should read the specific wording of the amendment. There could be an amendment that sounds like a good idea in principal, but the text of the amendment could be vague and confusing or have flow on effects that are not explained by the mover. If a poorly worded amendment passes it’s a time consuming process for someone else to have to fix it later on. We have received a number of constitutional amendments and a number of them would be a positive change. There are also a few that could be quite messy and impractical. If you get time, pop down to the VUWSA offices at Kelburn on the ground floor of the Student Union Building and have a look at the amendments on the notice board outside our office.
See you all at the AGM.