CALL ME an optimistic fool, but I’d hoped that with the demise of controversial ex-Campaigns Officer Kate McEachen, the exec would be able to function without resorting to its usual bickering.
But Women’s Rights Officer Caroline Prendergast seemed determined to draw blood at last Monday’s meeting, sparring with various members of the exec but particularly targeting Education Officer Delia Timms. According to Prendergast, Timm’s weekly report containing two items, a bread run and her attendance at the NZUSA Conference (to be discussed in a separate report), was unacceptable and indicated Timms’ disregard for her constitutional requirements. A drained Timms protested that she had done more work that week but could not remember the details, and she’d been busy with job interviews so fellow Education Officer CJ Hunt had typed her report for her.
Prendergast herself did not submit a report for the week but nevertheless continued to harangue Timms for her lack of commitment and announced that Timms should face the same fate as the ousted McEachen if she continued in this way. Prendergast was also annoyed that Timms had not attended the NZUSA Women’s Conference – Timms had cited personal reasons for her absence but Prendergast would not be placated. Both Prendergast and Education Vice-President Jules van Cruysen indicated their intent to reject Timms’ report but the rest of the exec voted to defer the issue to the next meeting, when Timms would be expected to present a more comprehensive report.
Van Cruysen and Prendergast presented their Student Representative Council (SRC) Strategy, designed to boost student involvement and prevent special interest groups from hijacking the agendas in the ailing forums. The strategy discusses using other venues on the Kelburn campus such as the Student Union Building Atrium and the Mount Street Bar and Café, as well as conducting SRCs on the other campuses. Free food, guest speakers, entertainment and better publicity are also proposed as means to attract students. President Nick Kelly also suggested that students be allowed to place items on the SRC agendas.
The exec was asked to approve grant applications for certain clubs recommended by the VUWSA Cultural Council Committee. Three of the seven clubs seeking funding were Christian groups, one of which wished to purchase Bible truth books. Van Cruysen objected to this purchase as the books, and Christianity in general were “wrong”. Kelly argued that VUWSA had an obligation to fund Christian groups, even if it didn’t agree with them and Prendergast chimed in that it wasn’t for VUWSA to decide what was right and wrong for students. Van Cruysen apologised for his comments and, ten minutes duly wasted, the exec voted to accept all applications.
The exec provisionally agreed to place three paintings, owned by VUWSA and collectively worth about $300,000, in the care of the VUWSA Trust. A disgruntled bird had apparently announced his displeasure with the oxygen-thieving exec by pooping on one of the paintings last year and VUWSA had to pay for repairs. Under the new agreement, the Trust would pay for the upkeep of the artwork.
In other exec news, Education Vice- President Joel Cosgrove reported that the exec and Ngai Tauira are looking to begin the Memorandum of Understanding negotiations, and Cosgrove and Van Cruysen reported back on the NZUSA Men’s Conference. Kodikara floated a draft environmental policy, to be released this Wednesday to students as part of Environmental Week. The $430 Environmental Week budget was also approved, as was a request for $50 to supply the exec and clubs and rep groups with coffee mugs. A skeleton VUWSA budget was also passed around so exec members could raise any concerns they had over the initial figures. The full budget will be presented (and no doubt tirelessly bitched over) this Wednesday.