In 'da House | Issue 17
Keeping it Scarfie
I spent some quality time in Dunedin last week.
After screening ‘Inside Child Poverty’ to a small but dedicated audience at Clubs and Socs (kudos to those who voluntarily chose to spend their Friday night with me in the Evison Lounge), I hung around for the weekend to revisit some old haunts: Poppa’s Pizza, the farmers’ market, Inch Bar, and Crusty Corner (for some reason, all my best Dunedin memories are food- and drink-related).
Of course, I pored over Critic for signs that it had gone downhill since “my day”, but was forced to conclude that the puns in the headlines were just as bad, the slightly superior editorial voice (no doubt masking some crippling insecurity) was intact, and my 2012 counterpart had even featured on Close Up, for a much better reason than me.
I may have presided over Critic’s most infamous scandal and had an issue banned, but I never made the cover of Newsweek. Like, actually made it. Congrats team.
The only gripe from my sojourn in the deep south is reserved for OUSA. What the heck is up with trying to derail NZUSA’s support of the Keep Our Assets campaign?
I know students’ associations haven’t always been the most relevant, but getting behind this campaign is a perfect opportunity for students’ associations to be more relevant, not less.
Not only do are asset sales opposed by the majority of New Zealanders, they will have a disproportionate impact on younger generations (i.e. the majority of students’ association members), so it’s an easy cause to excite young people about. When I’ve been out collecting signatures, almost every person under 30 I’ve approached has signed the petition.
What’s more, collecting signatures offers a unique opportunity to connect one-on-one with students. Every signature means a personal interaction with someone. If OUSA went collecting on campus, that’s thousands of opportunities to introduce people to OUSA.
In the VSM era, that’s gold.
OUSA’s decision to remain “neutral” on asset sales is a missed opportunity, but the call to use this “neutrality” to undermine NZUSA’s membership of the organising coalition is worse.
Involvement in a campaign for a referendum that will succeed (we’re on track to collect the required signatures in record time) would portray students in a positive light, and help dispel the same old negative tropes that pigeonhole them in the eyes of mainstream New Zealand.
Instead, NZUSA’s involvement in the campaign is wavering, thanks to a weird and short-sighted stance by OUSA. It’s a wasted opportunity and a great shame. Time for a rethink!