VUWSA is reviewing its Governance structure after the Government forced it to go voluntary starting this year, with practically no warning. So VUWSA needs to seriously rethink how it'll operate with basically $0 (though they have a bit of savings, and own VicBooks).
The White Paper, currently out for consultation for another two and a bit hours (yikes!) can be found here.
Final changes are to be approved at the AGM on 22 August, which I will not be voting for if they include removing Sustainability from the Constitution, and an environmental voice from the executive.
Here's what I had to say - I encourage you to submit to if you're free at some point before 5pm...
(Btw I would be at work at the moment, rather than submitting, if I wasn't sick in bed...)I realise the process has been going for some time, but I was a bit shocked to be told about this White Paper and its submission deadline from a friend just after my final exam. The fact that the submission process for this has been open during exams is poor planning. Although I realise deadlines are tight with the AGM etc, I think submissions should stay open for at least a week after exams finish.
On removing Sustainability from the constitution:
Sustainability should not be removed. It is not a policy issue, but an important goal to ensure that VUWSA operates in a manner which does not jeopardise its future operation and the ability for others to achieve their potential. This is vital in our world where we are facing a number of limits, including environmental and financial.
On the new preamble:
I do not support the rewritten preamble because it specifically states that VUWSA should prioritise the needs of its members over other students, which I do not think is a helpful thing to state.
And my thoughts on the overall structure of the Executive:
A bit rough I know, but I didn't have much time! Let me know if you have any thoughts - especially greenies and We Are The University people out there. It would be a shame if VUWSA wasted this opportunity, and was just a trimmed down version of the same old same old.I think the principal of greater representation and greater voluntary labour should be what moves VUWSA forward, rather than relatively minor adjustments to the current model.
I think there should be paid executive officers, of President, Vice-President Academic, Vice-President Wellbeing and potentially Engagement, along with Treasurer-Secretary. Given the tight financial environment, they should all be paid minimum wage. Failing this, the President should take some pay cut - current pay is far in excess of the vice president roles, which also have a high level of responsibility.
General executive roles should be voluntary and representative, with roles such as Environmental Officer etc not scrapped. I think more focus on greater representation and voluntary commitments from the many VUWSA members is a much better system than relying on token bonuses which are unlikely to create a higher performance from VUWSA general executive members.
Where possible a representative from a rep-group should be a part of the Executive, along with Ngai Tauira and the PGSA, to ensure all representatives have a strong input into the day to day running of VUWSA if they wish. This will help decision making in VUWSA be in touch with students, as well as allow the VUWSA executive to draw on the volunteer potential and expertise of these rep groups.
VUWSA Exec decisions should be made by consensus where possible among all attending Exec members. On contentious issues where the parties agree consensus is not possible, fair rules need to be developed on who gets to vote, based on representation and which exec members are elected by all students/VUWSA members, and which are representatives from rep groups.
This approach I think is much more along the lines of the changes VUWSA needs to undergo to both survive and prosper in a voluntary environment.