University and Student Politics

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.

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Tim Beaglehole (later University Chancellor) inspects the VUWSA banner held up by Jeremy Greenbrook and I, 2003 student fee protest.

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.

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2002 Salient Editor Max Rashbrooke and 2003 VUWSA President Catherine Belfield-Haines enjoying a beer at Eastside, the student bar.

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).


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2003 VUWSA Exec retreat. Having our photo with the Ohakune Carrot

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:

2003: VUW students vote against invasion of Iraq

Student Representative Council (SRC), an explanation

Nick TV Interview: 2004 TV report on University Library Services

Handbook Diary Blurb: Welfare Vice President

President’s Column: Happy New Year

President’s Column: And we’re off

President’s Column: No more fees

Salient reports on ‘The Mighty Starlet’ getting clamped

President’s column: Successes

President’s Column: Interesting Times

Salient report on Student Job Search being kicked out of the student union building

President’s Column: Where did all the protests go?

Salient report on constitutional changes

Salient Report: Student leaders speak for tenancy bill

President’s column: Freedom of press

Salient report on campus redevelopment

President’s Column: Should VUWSA be politically neutral

Salient report on me getting a haircut

President’s Column: Australs and Politics

President’s Column: 123 and a bit…

Media release: students suffer still

Salient Report: University blocked from raising fees by 10%

Salient report: University try by raise fees to 10% again

President’s Column: Survey’s and Blogs

President’s Column: Universal Truths

Fees debate – My view on users pays

Fees debate: Vice Chancellor Pat Walsh defends the university position

President’s Column: VUWSA Budget

Salient report on financial review

Salient report on bar prices

Salient report on student levy increase

President’s Column: The deed is done, nearly.

Salient: What is the right wing?

Salient report on student fees forum

President’s Column: Victories and Uncertainties

Salient report on fee increases

Salient report on executive turnover

President’s Column: I love student politics

Truce between university and VUWSA declared

President’s Column: VUWSA Presidency

Salient Mayoral election survey 2007

Open letter on VUWSA change proposal

Salient report on my (very brief) trespass from the university.

2005 VUWSA Annual Report

2006 VUWSA Annual Report

2012 VUWSA AGM minutes


18 thoughts on “University and Student Politics

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