OUSA have drafted a submission lobbying the government to increase the number of student seats on the University Council.
There is only one seat currently reserved for a student, held by the OUSA President. Sam Smith, OUSA Finance Officer, said that only having one student is “not adequate to ensure students are meaningfully represented”.
“Increasing the number of student seats on Council may seem insignificant, but it means that students are no longer the lone wolf in the room. Two students can support each other, present a wider range of perspectives and ultimately have a stronger influence on decision making, the effects of which filter down to our students and their communities.”
OUSA’s submission also says that they’d like to see the extra student seat reserved for the President of Te Roopū Māori, the Māori students’ association. “Te Tiriti o Waitangi obliges the University to see Te Roopū Māori as a parallel body to OUSA but this is currently not happening. By reserving a seat for a Māori student representative, a wider ambit of world views are captured and fed into the decision making process. This perspective is invaluable”.
While currently all universities are required to have at least one student on their councils, other tertiary education institutions (TEIs), like polytechs, are not required. OUSA’s submission also lobbied for these institutions to have seats on their councils reserved for students. “Students are strongest when we band together and support one another to effect change. OUSA is using the power of over 17,000 students to say, it's not good enough that only a few TEIs have students on their Councils. It should be a basic requirement that all students are represented in their tertiary institution.”