Edgar exposes assets failure

Edgar exposes assets failure

The Otago University Student’s Association (OUSA) has been criticised for its failure to support the Keep Our Assets campaign, after a media faux-pas from Logan Edgar taught the OUSA President that the majority of journalists outside of Critic do not appreciate his sense of humour.

In early May, the New Zealand Union of Students Associations (NZUSA) announced its support for the campaign without consulting members or students. Edgar heavily criticised this move, saying it was “inappropriate for NZUSA to support the Keep Our Assets Campaign. It’s not an education issue.”

Edgar was later interviewed by a journalist from the Star who questioned his decision to call for NZUSA to withdraw its support from “the largest and most controversial issue of the year.” The outcomes of the interview were front-page articles in both the Star and the Otago Daily Times last week, stating that Edgar is planning to use OUSA money to invest in power company shares. “We’d do it to keep some lights on for studying students and to keep them [the energy companies] New Zealand-owned,” Edgar was quoted as saying, alongside a colour photo of the president gazing at light switches.

In an exclusive interview with Critic, Edgar expressed remorse towards the media blunder. “I’ve been so lax with journos all year, and now it’s coming back to bite me.” Critic then proudly reminded Edgar that it counted itself as one of the esteemed “journos” Edgar has been “lax” with, with one hard-hitting interview between the OUSA president and Critic’s News Editor taking place on a toilet.

Edgar has attempted to explain away his interview with the Star. “They asked me about it all, and I said it was a good investment, hypothetically anyone would invest. I was just making the general point. I didn’t mean it seriously, it was satire.” When Critic asked whether the journalist was aware of this fact, Edgar replied, “I kept repeating that it was satire. He kept asking what I meant by satire. I said ‘satire’. Fuck, I don’t know aye.”

OUSA will continue to refrain from taking a stance on asset sales, until it receives support to do so by students. “We’re like a neutron on the matter of asset sales – neutral,” says Edgar. “We’re an association that cares about education; we only step into other areas when we are given a mandate by the students… We can’t act when it’s something the country is so divided over. We thought maybe someone would come up with something for the referendum this week but nobody gave us anything, not even [Dan] Stride. So what’s a man to do?”

OUSA ran an online poll asking its 7000 Facebook page members whether or not OUSA should support the campaign. Out of the 20,000 students that the OUSA represents, 169 respondents answered.

OUSA’s lack of support for the Keep Our Assets Campaign has disappointed local Grey Power members. Grey Power is one of the major groups, along with NZUSA, behind the Keep Our Assets Campaign. Dunedin Grey Power President Jo Millar told Critic, “we have been through what has happened. We don’t want our grandchildren to go through the same as what we did. We’re sharing knowledge and protecting this generation.” Millar said students would be welcome to join a protest against asset sales on 16 June on George Street, regardless of the OUSA’s stance.

Edgar admitted that his media blunder had not helped Grey Power to receive a full explanation of OUSA’s stance on asset sales. “I’m not really used to appealing to the grey power people,” said Logan, admitting he is not usually a “cougar man”. “But in all seriousness, I should’ve known there was a line. And that the most political, controversial issue of the year was not the place to cross it.”

Meanwhile, NZUSA has neither withdrawn nor re-affirmed its support for the Keep Our Assets Campaign. At the time Critic went to print NZUSA had frozen comment on the issue.
This article first appeared in Issue 14, 2012.
Posted 8:39pm Sunday 3rd June 2012 by Bella Macdonald and Charlotte Greenfield .