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Victories and Uncertainties

Nick Kelly



It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…
On Monday the University Council passed unanimously the deed and operating agreement over the Student Union Complex I talked about in last week’s President’s column. This puts to bed a half century old dispute – at least at a fundamental level. It’s nice to see the best part of a year’s hard slog come to fruition. The next part of this will be getting things working on the ground, but this process has started and I am optimistic for the future.
Also this week Victoria University in partnership with VUWSA and the VUWSA Trust has hired architects to look at designing a new campus Hub on the Kelburn campus. These plans would include a much improved Quad and a stronger link between the Quad and the Student Union Building. The plan would look at placing a number of student nonteaching services in a certain part of the university and improving what is currently a pretty dilapidated part of the campus. When students return in early 2007 we should have some quite exciting plans for improved student services to look at. Now that we have a series of agreements over the Student Union Complex we can seriously look at upgrading the services we provide.
Also on Monday we found out formally that the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has declined Victoria Universities application to raise Humanities and Education fees by a further 5%. This is a big win for students and is the result of months of work by VUWSA and the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA), our national student body. The next step is to campaign for increased funding to tertiary education so institutions don’t keep passing the cost onto us students.
Both of the above are things that I, and other members of the VUWSA team have spent many hours on. These were the positive parts of last week.
The VUWSA AGM on September 6th lost quorum very quickly and the entire thing is going to have to be held again on September 20th. The only item to be voted on was the VUWSA levy, but during the vote a quorum count was called and lost – meaning it needs to be done again. On the back page of this magazine you will see a list of all the things that VUWSA is able to provide for only $120 dollars a year. It is vital that students attend our next General Meeting on Wednesday September 20th to support the levy resolution – or else essential VUWSA services could be lost or drastically reduced. As students we are busy and attending a General Meeting isn’t most people’s choice of how to spend a lunchtime – but if you can you really should attend this meeting.
Just before class started a few of us from the exec attended the NZUSA Dunedin Conference. Here Joey Randall was re-elected as the co-president of this organisation – congratulations to Joey. The other co-president position remains vacant, as does the position of National Womens’ Rights officer. The next round of voting will happen in early October so we should have a result by the end of Trimester.
In other news many of you will be aware that there is currently an industrial dispute between the National Distribution Union and Progressives, the owner of supermarket chains Countdown, Woolworths and Foodtown. The Shelf Respect Campaign is a major campaign to organise supermarket workers for better pay and conditions at work. As anyone who has worked at a supermarket will know (and a great many students have done so) the work is usually minimum wage, or little more, with long hours and hard work. The current dispute is with 500 locked out workers at the distribution centres in Auckland Palmerston North and Christchurch. An important part of these sorts of campaigns is public support. A significant victory in this dispute could improve the conditions for thousands of supermarket workers, again, a number of whom are students. There will be a number of pickets to support the current dispute. To find out more visit: www.shelfrespect.org.
Nominations for the 2007 VUWSA Executive, University Council Rep and Publications Committee and for a General Exec position on the 2006 Executive are now open. You can get a nomination form from the VUWSA offices at Kelburn, Pipitea and Karori. Being an exec member looks good on your CV and gives you a number of valuable skills. It also is an excellent way of serving your fellow students. So stand up and put yourself forward. For more information visit: www.vuwsa.org.nz.