Media Release – 28 August 2013
Outstanding initiatives by Auckland University Students’ Association
Steps being taken by the Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA) to support students who are experiencing severe hardship are an outstanding example of the values that a strong student organisation brings to institutions like the University of Auckland, says the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).
“Not only has AUSA successfully launched a new volunteer programme this month, known as AUSA Delegates, it has followed that up with a programme – ‘Students for Students – Tauira mō ngā take tauira’ – that is reflecting the culture of care and compassion that students have for each other,” says Dr Alistair Shaw, NZUSA executive director.
Dr Shaw says that the initiative being shown by students like AUSA president-elect Cate Bell in founding ‘Students for Students’ – a programme that invites donations to help fund AUSA’s welfare services - demonstrates what strong student leadership on responding to core issues like the affordability of tertiary education can achieve.
“This latest initiative gives students who are in a position to donate a spare dollar or two each week an option to put that money towards the welfare and wellbeing of students who are experiencing serious hardship and might otherwise forfeit their health or their studies or both”.
“Students are already the only sector in society expected to borrow to live, and the simple fact is that too many students experience genuine financial distress and unexpected emergencies every day. Nationwide data we recently collected on the demand at foodbanks at student associations confirm this – showing that associations everywhere are handing out thousands of food parcels and hardship grants every year”.
NZUSA notes that AUSA’s donation page at www2.ausa.auckland.ac.nz/archives/1630 is now live, and is also open to members of the general public to make donations that can be directed to the food bank or to hardship grants for students in dire need.
Dr Shaw also commended the initiative of setting up AUSA Delegates, a student-run volunteer network that has already seen thousands of dollars raised for student welfare and charities, including Hairshave - Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand. The volunteer network has helped paint QueerSpace, launched educational campaigns including DroppedmyDegree, and analysed the Compulsory Student Services Fee.
“Cate Bell, who co-founded AUSA Delegates with fellow student leader Max Lin, recognised that volunteers play a key role in adding to the life of the campus. AUSA Delegates allows students to apply their expertise over seven different teams; media, welfare, representation, education, events, general and community. Volunteers are also encouraged to use their own initiative and come up with their own projects”.
“Alongside a host of other examples of innovation occurring at student associations around the country, being able to attend a formal celebration of the AUSA Delegates programme this month has been a highlight of my year. It bodes well for the future”.