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Victoria returns seat in major win for student democracy

DATE Tuesday, 03 December 2013
FROM Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association
TITLE Victoria returns seat in major win for student democracy

Victoria returns seat in major win for student democracy

At this week’s Victoria University Council meeting members of the governing body voted unanimously to return a seat to the Students’ Association, after a two-year absence from the Council.

President of the Association, Rory McCourt, said it made sense for the Association to have the seat as it could provide an independent, accountable voice for Victoria’s 22,000 students. VUWSA maintains a network of over 1,400 class representatives and Faculty Board Delegates who inform the ten-person elected student executive and the full-time student President, who will sit on the Council from 2014.

“There was much confusion when the Act Party’s Voluntary Student Membership law was introduced, but we’re heartened our University sees benefit in returning VUWSA to the heart of student representation at Victoria” said McCourt.

The Council in late 2011 removed the Association’s seat in favour of a representative from the University-created Student Forum. While the Forum was seen by some at the time as a necessary response to the legislation, it lacked democratic elections and in practice a number of the representatives were chosen by University staff. The new body lost the support of many student groups, including the Association. A collaborative staff-student group reviewed the Forum this year and recommended the return of the Association to Council.

VUWSA is the first students’ association to regain a University Council seat since the introduction of Voluntary Student Membership in 2011. McCourt says that election year will be an important time to explain the reality of the legislation for students and their associations, many of which are collapsing across New Zealand –particularly in the regions.

“We’ve been the critic and conscience of Victoria for 114 years, and we take great pride in Council’s affirmation of that role with this decision; it gives us certainty. This marks a new, brighter chapter in our relationship with Vic. We look forward to our part in making Victoria a leading capital city university, with quality research and a student experience rooted in a sense of community and service” said McCourt.

Notable former VUWSA Presidents and Vice-Presidents include Victoria’s Chancellor Ian McKinnon, Members of Parliament Andrew Little and Chris Hipkins, QC Hugh Rennie, former Parliamentarian Sue Kedgley and Hunter Fellow the late Rosemary Barrington.


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