Editorial | Bring About Positive Change

Cast a Vote In Both the OUSA and National Elections

With the OUSA Executive Election period finally upon us, student political enthusiasts and commentators alike (admittedly a rare, nerdy breed by my own admission) are feeling as though Christmas has come early. For those unaware of what this means, next week you have the opportunity to vote for whoever you think will be best suited to enhance your student experience and fight for student-related issues by advocating on your behalf during 2018.

This year’s OUSA Executive have not taken any public stance on the enormous number of issues that spilled over from last year, and have arisen so far this year, with that silence having directly or indirectly affected each and every student at this university. Below are just five of the most important of those issues, for those who remain unaware of them:

  • The continuing Management of Change process in relation to the Division of Humanities - causing at least 18 staff cuts.
  • Support Services Review - cuts to “over 200 staff positions” (according to the Tertiary Education Union).
  • The cuts to one third of the School of Physical Education staff and half of the papers on offer.
  • The 60 CCTV cameras being implemented into North Dunedin despite recently released crime rates showing that other areas of Dunedin are significantly worse.
  • The General Election being just 20 days away (on the day of print) and not having committed to endorsing any political policy in favour of the student interest.

I’m afraid to say that not making a public stand on those issues is quite simply pathetic, and I am honestly as bored of writing about this I’m sure as you are of reading about it. But it is vital that you’re aware of these flaws, if only to make more informed choices through the ballot box to ensure this doesn’t happen again next year.

Now, of course we cannot expect these ten representatives to be perfect, and I am not by any means saying that they have failed in every aspect of the year, but we have to expect more from elected representatives; ignoring the above issues is not acceptable.

Canterbury University Students’ Association have recently had their executive elections, and had a turnout of just under 50 percent of their students (interestingly, a different ‘Hugh Baird’ came second in their Presidential race with 33 percent). For comparison, last year’s OUSA elections had just 4613 students, just 21 percent, cast a vote.

If you still don’t believe me when I say they have a significant part to play in your time here at university, just consider how this year could have gone had Hugh Baird taken out second place in last year’s election and one of the other two presidential candidates won. For example, if you had chosen Lark Hare, you would have had a food truck set up in the Octagon at an extortionate cost to OUSA selling cheap food to you as you walk home from town; or you could have had Hashmat Lafraie enter the Clocktower on the first day of the job to tell the Vice Chancellor Harlene Hayne that she gets paid too much (just think how long that conversation would have lasted); although, to their credit, perhaps both would have provided more vocal opposition to the above issues... that’s not at all difficult to imagine.

This year we have more students running in the election than any other time in living memory (not actually true, but I’ll try anything at this stage to convince you to vote) so you have no reason to abstain - vote ‘no confidence’ if you think they are all shit options. The issues with OUSA are staring us in the face, and you have the power to change that next week. Take it.

Come to the forums to hear the candidates discuss what they will do should they be elected. These are on the 5th (11am), 6th (3pm) and 7th September (11am) in the Union Hall. Critic also has an election spread with all of the candidates on pages 26 to 33 for you to read over.

Above all, please vote in both the OUSA election, September 11th and 14th, and then also in the General Election on September 23rd and take some responsibility to bring about positive change for yourself! Make your voices heard, don’t be apathetic.

Joe Higham
Critic co-editor

This article first appeared in Issue 21, 2017.
Posted 10:13am Sunday 3rd September 2017 by Joe Higham.