For those lucky enough to attend university, the experience is often in their formative years. For me as an 18 year old from Upper Hutt, attending university was both an exciting and slightly daunting prospect. Its no secret that I had struggled through secondary school, and my grades by no means guaranteed me university entrance. But I wanted to go. My parents and most of my extended family had attended. And I had dreams of what I could do as a student political activist. So I studied hard, pushed myself and did my final school exams. On a family holiday, in Thames Coromandal in January 2001, I called the exam hotline and to find out my results.found out how I. When my family asked how I’d done I replied that I only got two C’s (the minimum for university entrance is 3 C’s). After a moments awkward silence I replied “and got three B’s.”
Fast forward 5 years to 2006. I’d been elected President of the Students’ Association, representing 20,000 student at my university as their association leader. I was managing roughly 30 staff, a million dollar budget, sitting on the university governance board and was the public face of the elected student executive.
Somewhere along the way I also gained a university degree.
My time as an undergraduate took me from being a long haired pimply teenager with an occasional tendency for cross dressing and a bogan rock obsession, to being a leader, a out the box thinker and a someone who had the courage of his convictions. From being turfed out of the labour party and engaging in more leftist politics, effigy and flag burnings, university registry occupations, mass anti war protests and even a couple of arrests (no charges), they were a colourful few years.
But university wasn’t just about being a political activist. I represented students on faculty boards and committees. I was a class representative supporting students having difficulties during their studies. In 2005 I ran the university foodbank, helping a number of students in serious financial need. I also helped organise a number of student orientation events, seeing a number of world class acts perform on campus (possibly even enjoying a beer or two with some of the performers).
The 2005 VUWSA Exec retreat in Ohakune
David Cassidy VUWSA Campaigns Officer 2005
Jennifer Jones, VUWSA Education Vice President
Me in my favourite t-shirt…I was often seen in this at parliament.
Brendan Jarvis, VUWSA Activities Officer 2005
The next few posts in the ‘why’ series of this blog are going to be about my time and university.
Below are some of the reports and items in Salient and other publications during my time at University, specifically while I was on the Students’ Association Executive: