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Victoria University proposes undemocratic council

Victoria University proposes undemocratic council

Victoria University of Wellington’s proposed new council constitution is undemocratic, according to students.

The President of the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) Rick Zwaan says that while students support the proposed retention of two student seats on the council, having them appointed by an appointments panel rather than elected as they are currently is undemocratic.

The proposal, which was released on Monday, replaces the current structure of electing staff, student and alumni members of council with an appointments panel created by council itself.

“Victoria has a vision to be one of the world’s great public civic universities, yet this proposal rejects the notion of elections, which is at the heart of democracy.”

“This model suggests that a panel of seven council appointees are better placed to choose a student representative than the 22,000 people this person would endeavour to represent.”

During consultation on the development of the proposal, over 80% of students surveyed said they agreed or strongly agreed it should be the VUWSA President or another student elected at large.

Students and staff are the heart of the university. They are at the core of the institution's purpose - teaching, learning and research. To claim good governance, the university must ensure members of council are strongly connected to these groups and hold a credible mandate to act in the university’s best interests.

“It’s ironic that a public university doesn’t trust its community to elect good governors. Even the private sector trusts its shareholders to make good decisions when electing boards of directors. An organisation filled with some of the smartest minds in the world can surely do the same,” concludes Zwaan.


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