President Responds to Student Concerns About Changes to the Counselling Service

VUWSA is aware of the concerns which have been raised around changes to the University’s counselling booking system.

Student health and wellbeing is extremely important to us, and access to appropriate decent mental health services is a big part of this. So we can understand why if you heard about these changes, and weren’t provided with context about how they could affect you and other students accessing these services, you might be alarmed.

VUWSA has been in conversations with the counselling team since before the changes were brought in, to ensure that any new system is going to be beneficial for students. However because of the confused response from students about these changes we want to clarify how this affects the counselling service.

What are the changes?

→ Students are now required to fill in an online booking form in order to get an appointment..

Counselling services hopes this form will mean requests are processed faster and cut down the waiting list for appointments. It also means the counsellors are better informed about a student's situation to improve these session times for the student.

VUWSA has asked for an option be added to the top of the form saying “I do not have the ability to fill out this form right now, and need to organise my appointment in another way.”. The service has taken this on board and will be adding it.

So far, the form has meant more students are approaching the service for help, not less.

What hasn’t changed?

→ The session limit.

Changes to the system do not include a six session limit. We have been assured that the University is not using a six session maximum as a concrete rule, and that students’ needs will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

If you feel that you have unfairly been declined the support you require, contact us at advocate@vuwsa.org.nz.

What are the wider challenges?

New Zealand’s mental health system is in crisis. The People’s Mental Health Report published in the last few weeks illustrates a system in dire need of a review and funding increase. We have been advocating, and will continue to advocate for a focus on mental health services on campus. However the pressures on student counselling are in large part driven by a complete lack of mental health support in the general public health system. What looks like an under-resourced service is in fact an overloaded one.

What are we doing about it?

We have organised a forum open for students to come and ask questions and raise concerns with University Managers about this issue.

10-11am, Monday 8th May, SU217

If you want to come but cannot make it, we will be streaming the forum on our Facebook page. If you have any thoughts or questions that need to be answered before Monday, don’t hesitate to email me - president@vuwsa.org.nz.

Mental health is an important issue to me, and I know from personal experience how much of an impact it can have on life as a student. I can assure you that we are doing our utmost to help drive culture change that will make Victoria a less stressful place to be a student, and to ensure adequate services are provided on campus.

Our top five tips for finding a flat.

Having trouble finding a flat? We’ve compiled five key tips to help make it a bit easier.

Prepare:

Agree on your ideal (and maximum) budget that you can pay for your room.

Compile a cover letter and CV for you flatmates using this template.

Contact referees (e.g. former landlords or employers) who can provide you with references.

Compile all of the details from your flatmates that are required in the Bond Lodgement Form and Tenancy Application Form, which most landlords use.

 

Tip 2.png

Search hard and wide:

Look out for flats on websites – TradeMe and NZ Flatmates.

Look out for flats on Facebook group – Vic Deals, Vic Flatmates Wanted, Flats and rooms for Rent Wellington and Flatmates Wanted Wellington.

Be there:

Make sure that at least one member of your flatting group is in Wellington during flat hunting season. 

Organise and go to as many flat viewings as possible.

Standout:

You don’t need to suck up to the landlord or property manager, but being friendly and approachable is really important.

Take along a printed copy of your flat cover letter and CV (link) and hand it to the landlord if you are interested in the property.

Secured a flat? Stay smart:

Congrats on getting a flat!

Set up a flat bank account where the bond payment and rent payments can be paid out of – this makes it easier for everyone!

Before you move in, walk through with the landlord and take photos of any damage at the property and keep these in a shared folder accessible to all flatmates.

 

Other useful documents to help get you in the door: 

        Application form: https://tenancy.govt.nz/assets/Forms-templates/Pre-tenancy-application-form.pdf

        Bond lodgement form: https://tenancy.govt.nz/assets/Forms-templates/Bond-lodgement-form.pdf

       For a flatting cover letter template click here. 

Treasurer-Secretary

Generally 2016 has been about as much fun as getting hit by a bus while crossing Manners St.

But at VUWSA things have been a bit different. I won’t lie, it’s been the hardest year of my life, but by far has had one of the biggest payoffs (not in monetary terms though, let’s not get carried away). Some of the people I’ve been privileged enough to encounter have changed my life and I hope they’ll stay with me for some time to come.

My job has been to demand reports from the executive, save money and generally faff about in offices. But the rest of the VUWSA executive have moved mountains. In addition to being students, working jobs to pay their rent, having the lives normally expected of a human, they’ve worked their asses off for students often without ever being seen to be doing anything at all, and almost never with a thank you. Together we opposed outsourcing of pre-degree pathways, worked with International Students to stop them being treated as cash-cows, backed students who opposed huge cuts in their faculties, got Gold Awards on the calendar to celebrate cultural achievement, started a Volunteer Army and as always served a veritable torrent of hot vegan-friendly curry. As well as the myriad of small bits of work around the place everyone has chipped in for.

I would like to offer my heartfelt thank you to the 2016 Executive for doing everything conceivably possible to make Victoria University and Wellington the best place it can be for students. It’s been so humbling to be part of the team.

2016 is a write off (RIP Harambe, Alan Rickman and Western Democracy). But seeing the giants of Victoria Uni students on the horizon has given me hope that by 2026 things won’t be so bad.

George Grainger,

Treasurer-Secretary

Clubs and Activities Officer

This year has been a really exciting year with some great wins for students, especially in the clubs sphere.

At the beginning of the year the Clubs Council was reformed to play a larger and more meaningful role in being the critic and conscience of clubs services and management at VUW. This first task we undertook as a new and improved council was to actively consult with as many clubs and club leaders as possible to find out where the needs of clubs really lie and what clubs thought could be done to improve support services. We got some really constructive feedback from a diverse range of clubs and this fed into the independent review of clubs management in trimester two. Hopefully we will see some positive changes for the Clubs community as a result.

Another awesome win was creating the Gold & Supreme Club Awards, which is an award ceremony that celebrates the success of our students in the cultural sphere and our outstanding clubs on campus. Until this year these achievements were not formally recognised by the University, unlike every other University in the country, so it was great to have the first celebration of our awesome students! Some of the individual achievements included some students competing at the Hip Hop World Championships in Las Vegas and the Barbershop World Championships in Texas. We also celebrated the hard work of the clubs on campus with Vic Muslims taking out the top prize of Supreme Club of the Year.

These were some incredible highlights of the year and show just how amazing the student body is outside as well as inside lecture rooms! It will be really exciting to build on the Clubs Council and the Gold & Supreme Club Awards in years to come and they are both in excellent hands with the newly elected Clubs & Activities Officer, Marlon Drake, who will be leading this area in 2017.

Tori Sellwood,

Clubs and Activities Officer

Education Officer

This year in 2016 we had some major focuses in the Education Team, including a review of the tutor system, and working on submissions against proposed language cuts at Victoria.

Tutor Review: Report to the Senior Leadership team

This has been my biggest project and my focus for the whole year. The main issues were inconsistency between disciplines of pay, training and support. I conducted a survey and 250 people replied with some very interesting comments. There was a huge focus of tutors feeling they were undervalued and not treated as equals and poorly treated. Therefore, when the Learning and Teaching Committee brought up tutors at one of the meetings. We jumped at the chance and so along with our Student Rep Coordinator and Academic VP we wrote a submission to the Senior Leadership Team with all of our data and comments. They listened and are now conducting a University-wide review of tutoring. This is such a big win.

VUW proposed cuts to the Euro Languages Department

This was another big focus in the last few months. VUW announced in the last week of semester they would be making significant cuts to the Euro Languages Department. This was met with huge uproar of the students, a petition signed by 2000 that was presented to the Vice-Chancellor and of course many submissions. We wrote a submission on behalf of VUWSA and are awaiting the outcome.

Annaliese Wilson,

Education Officer

Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer

Having never really been engaged in student politics before, this year has been a new experience and learning curve for me. The Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer role, as a member of the Welfare Team, is a diverse one as it covers two large areas: mental and physical wellbeing and environmental sustainability, two things which I am passionate about.

My key focus at the start of the year was to increase accessibility to healthy, sustainable food options for students in two ways. I have aided the VUW Food Co-operative, which had its beginnings in 2014 and which provides wholesale price organic dried goods, to increase its membership, product variety, and frequency. The Food Co-op now has monthly pack-outs in all three trimesters, and a three-page product list!

My other focus was looking at establishing a community garden on campus, a space that provided not just fresh, organic vegetables, but also a beautiful and relaxing space where students can hang out in the sun and have their lunch (Wellington weather permitting..!) The preliminaries have been carried out, and the garden will be constructed over the summer in time for students starting classes.

I have learned this year that there is so much more to the role and to VUWSA. Some of the things I am proud of this year are working alongside the Welfare Vice-President and the Community Justice Project to create a ‘Know Your Rights’ flatting guide. Another accomplishment was working with the university and the Wellington City Council to bring a deal of half-priced rubbish bags, which proved to be a huge hit with students. VUWSA is also a proud supporter of the Living Wage Aotearoa Movement. I have had the pleasure of sitting on the Wellington Local Board, and working with them to increase awareness of the movement for students at Vic via the Living Wage at Vic group. One of the events we hosted on campus was the successful Living Wage pub quiz at the Hunter Lounge.

It has been an action-packed year on VUWSA and I am looking forward to working on more initiatives that help students as your Welfare Vice-President in 2017!

Anya Maule,

Wellbeing and Sustainability Officer

What’s in store for you at VUWSA in 2017?

I’m honored and humbled to have been elected as your President in 2017. A fantastic new team has been elected, with a mix of experienced returning members and some fresh blood. I know they are all brimming with ideas, and keen to carry on the progress that has been made at VUWSA this year.

Here’s a few things you can expect in the new year:

1.       A stunning Oweek. Our events team have been working their butts off to put together the biggest orientation for some time. Stay tuned for announcements over the next few weeks. One thing I can say is that we’ve agreed to another partnership with Newtown Festival, so will be bringing you another year of the Newtown Ave Stage at NZ’s greatest street festival!

2.       Progress on Fairer Fares (hopefully!). For the last few weeks I’ve been working with Council staff to put together some different bus and train fare ‘options’ for the Regional Councillors. We’ll wait and see how the new Council react to them, but by mid-December we’ll know if this is hot or cold. All going well, we’ll see some student friendly policies going out when they consult on their Annual plan early next year. Keep up the pressure by emailing your local Councillor and reminding them how important student fares are!

3.       VUWSA hitting the ground with our Strategic Plan. Having passed it at the AGM earlier this year, I’m super excited about the direction it sets for us. Our student engagement focus will see an emphasis on opening up volunteering opportunities within VUWSA - there is so much we can offer students in the way of experience, whether is working at Oweek events, on political campaigns, or projects. I’m looking forward to working with you all on making your association as good as it can be.

This is just a taste. As ever, you know we’ll be here to get the best deal for students.

Happy holidays, see you in the new year!

Rory Lenihan-Ikin,

VUWSA President-elect 2017,

Welfare Vice President

 

 

 

President's update - December 2016

2016: the year that Trump got elected, Brexit happened, a 7.8M earthquake hit Wellington, and John Key resigned. It certainly has been a crazy year.

At VUWSA, we aren’t quite winding down yet as we cram in all that we can before we close for the year. The year started early in January when we spoke before a parliamentary select committee on the proposed minimum standards on rental housing, telling them the reality of cold and damp student flats.

We thought we were winding down at the end of Trimester 2 until the 14 November earthquake shook Wellington, which meant rolling our sleeves up and supporting the recovery effort with our Student Volunteer Army.

It has been an exceptionally busy year for VUWSA, and I’m incredibly proud to say that we delivered a successful Student Friendly Wellington campaign and launched our new Strategic Plan for the next five years, while continuing to get the best deal for you in everything that we have done. Thank you so much for sticking with us throughout 2016.

For me, I’ve reached the final leg of my time as VUWSA President. I want to thank you for the faith you have put in me to serve you this year. Running for election has been one of the best choices I have made in my life and I have absolutely loved being your President. As for my next adventure, I’ve recently been elected National Student President at the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA). I have the great privilege of serving students for another year and I look forward to working with you as we aim to get students issues on the General Election agenda in 2017.

What a year it has been. Thank you again for allowing me to be your President. It’s been an absolute privilege.

In service,

Jonathan Gee

VUWSA President

Stress Free Study Week Supports Thousands

Our first Stress Free Study Week of the year has come and gone. During the week we served approximately 3,000 breakfasts and 6,000 lunches across three campuses; and had three SPCA and one Kitten Inn visit – we couldn’t have done this without our volunteers and many supporting organisations giving their time and money serving and helping at these events, for free.

Why do we run Stress Free Study Week?

One of our main reasons behind why we run Stress Free Study Week is to decrease student hardship. We’re well aware that many students live below the poverty line. Running this event gives all students the chance to have nutritious food in their bellies – and not have to worry about budgeting their often tiny student allowances on what they’ll eat that week that week.

Another reason for running Stress Free Study Week is to help decrease student stress. Exam study is stressful! And we know what it’s like to juggle a full schedule and different priorities, as well as manage the pressure of achieving good grades so that students come out the other side with a degree. We run Stress Free Study Week twice every year to give students the support they need and give them that edge while studying for exams.

We’ll be running more Stress Free Study Weeks at the end of trimesters 1 and 2 next year.

If you have any ideas about how to make it even better, let us know too!

Email wellington@vuwsa.org.nz

 

Introducing: VUWSA's guide to flatting

Are you about to go flatting for the first time and unsure when to start? Or maybe you've had a bad experience in the past and don't want to repeat it?

We've put together a resource to help you navigate the world of flatting in Wellington. It combines both legal and practical tips about where to look and what to think about when your are looking for a flat, and takes you all the way through the different stages of flatting from move-in to move-out.

In the guide we have also included some typical problems that students often come up against, how you can tackle them, and a list of organisations who can help you out if you get in a sticky situation.

The best way to avoid these situations is by taking time to find a good place, with a good landlord and good flatmates. But we know that it's not as simple as that- the lack of decent affordable flats in Wellington can make flat hunting a frustrating and demoralizing experience. 

While this guide will be no means guarantee you a breezy flatting experience, we hope it will give you some useful tips. Meanwhile, we'll keep campaigning for a rental warrant of fitness and other changes to try and improve what is currently a dire situation for student renters.

Click here to read our Flatting Guide

This guide is not a finished product- we'd love to hear your feedback about how it could be made better!

Thanks to our partners, the Community Justice Project for putting this together with us. 

Rory Lenihan Ikin – Welfare Vice President

Get your voice heard in NZUSA survey + Draw!

The New Zealand Union of Students' Associations (NZUSA) is carrying out a very important survey of students in New Zealand. The survey is carried out every three or four years to find out how much it costs to be a student, and to find out how students make ends meet.

By taking part you will help NZUSA provide a voice for students like you. They will use the results to try and get a better deal for New Zealand students.

All you have to do to take part is to complete this questionnaire. http://www.surveytool.com/s/SF83A448F3

It's important that NZUSA understands how much it costs to be student, so questions ask about the amounts you spend and earn. You can be assured that all your individual answers and personal details will remain completely confidential. Only grouped responses will be reported in any publication or presentation of the results, so nobody will be able to identify you in the results.

Prize draw for completing and returning this survey within 5 days!

As a thank you for taking part we offer the opportunity to enter a draw for one of four prizes: A $500 voucher, a $300 voucher and two $100 vouchers.

 

Presidents Update – November 2016

Kia ora everyone
 
Hope your exams are going well!
 
Our Student Friendly Wellington campaign for the local body elections came to an end a few weeks ago, with the election of a number of student-friendly candidates.
 
The majority of candidates (eight of the 13) elected to Wellington City Council signed VUWSA’s pledge for a compulsory rental warrant of fitness by 2019. Six out of the 13 candidates elected to the Greater Wellington Regional signed VUWSA’s pledge for a 50 percent tertiary discount on public transport be included in Wellington’s 2017/18 Annual Plan.
 
We still have a bit more work to do before fairer fares and a rental warrant of fitness become a reality. The plan now is to target candidates who have not yet signed our pledge for fairer fares so that we can get it over the line. We’re just one short of a majority on the Regional Council, so we’re particularly keen to focus on Lower Hutt and Wairarapa where there are newly elected councillors who have not yet signed our pledge.
 
A number of students live out in Lower Hutt and Wairarapa, so we want to tell these councillors that fairer fares will do a world of difference enabling their student-constituents to succeed academically.
 
In my last monthly update, I told you the university proposed to reduce the exam period and introduce three exam sessions in one day to create an extra week and, therefore, ‘regularise’ Trimester 3. In the discussion at Academic Board, we pushed for an assurance in the policy that no student should have to sit three exams in one day or three in a 48-hour period. We also sought to preserve your four-day study ‘week’ from being eroded. We’re pleased that both these points have been incorporated in the new policy.
 
That’s all for now - good luck for the rest of your exams!
 
Jono

Student Representation Celebration – congratulations to our winners!

An annual event, the Student Representation Celebration celebrates the exceptional student representatives and student leaders at Victoria.

On October 13, Victoria University staff, and VUWSA Class Representatives, Faculty Delegates and representative group leaders came together to recognise the importance of student representation and reflect on the positive impact their work in the roles has made at Victoria.

For the first time ever, lecturers who have contributed to the academic quality and student experience at Victoria were also recognised.

Congratulations to our 2016 winners:

Class Representative Awards
Tessanna Imrie 400 level Sociology
Donald Tang SWEN304
Ali Leota MAOR102
Peter Stichbury ARCI312
Jordana Zhu MGMT206
 
Faculty Delegate
Bhavana Bhim Faculty of Humanities and Social Science
Grace Carroll Faculty of Humanities and Social Science
Hannah Altman Faculty of Commerce
Andrew Simpkin Faculty of Humanities and Social Science
Charlene Leong Faculty of Engineering
 
Outstanding Contribution to the Student Experience
Jarrod Bryce VicCom
Vaelyn Luo V-ISA
Alex Mark UniQ
Austin D’Souza STUDiO
Deon Teo V-ISA
 
Lecturer of the Year
Elf Eldridge School of Engineering and Computer Science

Honourable Mentions
Howard Lukefahr School of Engineering and Computer Science
Richard Millington School of Languages and Cultures
Sandi McCutcheon School of Education
 

Special interviews with Gold & Supreme Club winners

We talk motivation, passion, training, culture and following your dreams with five of our top Gold & Supreme Club winners: Sovereign Gold Award winner; Club President of the Year; Faculty Students' Association of the Year; New Club of the Year; and Small Club of the Year.

Here’s their take on why pursuing a life of passion, one that makes a positive difference to the community, is so important. Plus top tips that everyone can apply to succeed.

Click on the Gold & Supreme Club winners' below...

Rory McKenzie, Sovereign Gold Award
Deon Teo, Club President of the Year
Misfits, New Club of the Year
Ignite Consultants, Small Club of the Year

President's update – October 2016

Kia ora everyone

Exams are around the corner! At VUWSA, we know the lead up to exams can be a very stressful time for you. VUWSA exists to make your exam time a little less stressful. Along with our much-loved Stress Free Study Week (where we provide free breakfasts and lunches to feed your mind so you’re exam-ready), we also advocate for your interests around the university's decision-making table.

Recently, the university proposed to reduce the exam period and introduce three exam sessions in one day to create an extra week and, therefore, ‘regularise’ Trimester 3. At Academic Board, student reps said that any change must have student wellbeing at the forefront, and that no student should be put in the unfortunate position of having three exams in one day. We’re also watching closely to ensure there is not a proliferation of in-class tests in the last week of trimester and that you’re study week is preserved. Any potential change would take effect in 2018 or beyond, but please do let me know your thoughts by flicking me an email. 

All the best for your exams – and remember to look after yourself!

Noho ora mai

Jono

Celebrating grade-A student representation

The annual Student Representation Celebration will be held on Thursday 13 October at 4pm at The Hunter Lounge. These celebrations recognise the achievements of our exceptional student representatives and student leaders at Victoria, including Class Reps, Faculty Delegates, and representative group leaders who have contributed to the academic quality and student experience at Victoria during 2016. 

And for the first time ever we recognise outstanding lecturers who have positively contributed to the learning experience. This prestigious annual ceremony promises to be a momentous occasion. 

Winners will be announced on the night and will receive trophies to celebrate the contribution they have made to the student-experience at VUWSA.

We also recognise the teaching quality and input lecturers put into their lectures, and how this can influence the student-experience - in this way, for the first time ever we recognise lecturers at the Celebration. 

The Education Team had a tough time deciding on the awardees because of the high caliber of candidates.

Looking forward to the ceremony and celebrating these talented individuals. 

Annaliese Wilson – Education Officer

Celebrating diversity is Gold

The Blues Awards ceremony, held 21 September, has been recognising the achievements of Victoria University’s best athletes for over 100 years. Students who are selected to compete at a regional, national or international level in their chosen sport while successfully pursuing their studies are awarded the highest accolade the university can bestow.

But what about the non-athletes among us?

Until this year exceptional students were recognised for service and leadership through the Vic Plus Award, commitment to volunteering through the Vic Volunteer Awards, and leadership in the student community through the VUWSA Student Representation Celebration. However, noticeably missing was any recognition of exceptional achievement in the cultural sphere and the outstanding contributions of clubs.

That is until this year.

Working together with VUWSA and Victoria Recreation we pitched the idea of the Gold & Supreme Club Awards to the university. While the idea was received enthusiastically from decision makers, it was unclear whether the event would be able to happen this year or if the plans would be put in place for next year.

Through the work of some passionate people and strong event management we pulled it off. The inaugural Gold & Supreme Club Awards ceremony took place yesterday. 34 Gold Award recipients who demonstrated excellence in their chosen cultural field and five clubs were recognised for their outstanding contributions to the university community.

It was an incredible event and a long overdue opportunity to recognise the achievements of those students. 

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for photos!

Tor Sellwood – Clubs and Activities Officer

Formulas for success – interviews with true Blues

We talk motivation, passion, training and multitasking with three of our top Blues winners: Sportsperson of the Year, Pasifika Sportsperson of the Year and Sports Administrator of the Year.

Here’s their winning formulas to battling hectic schedules. Their take on how to successfully juggle uni, work, winning and some sort of personal life. Plus some tips from them that everyone can apply to succeed.

Click on the Blues winners' names below...

Congratulations – let's celebrate!

It’s coming up to the end of the trimester, and with it (unless you’re returning for tri 3), the end of the year.  For some of you, you’ll be leaving your hall of residence and first-year family to move into the wider world of renting and flatting.

If you’re like me, the upcoming summer is nothing more than a quick break between another year of classes, with the opportunity to bulk the savings account by making Big Macs or scanning groceries – whatever your summer job loads on you.

For some, however, this is a farewell from university, and maybe even Wellington itself.  Maybe you’ve graduated?  Maybe you’re moving universities?  Or maybe you’ve just decided university isn’t what you thought it would be.

No matter your situation, congratulations on completing the year.

To celebrate, VUWSA is throwing one last little 'huzza!' on the last day of lectures, Friday October 14th.  Join us from midday for an afternoon of DJs, free pizza, and happy hour as we farewell the year that’s been.  

And if you want to keep the party going into the night, join Drax Project for their last Wellington show this year. 

Last of all, enjoy the last couple of weeks, and best of luck with your exams!  VUWSA will once again be providing puppies, kittens, food and drinks all Stress Free Study Week, so keep an eye out on Facebook as always for important announcements.

Until next time

Nathaniel Manning – Engagement Vice President

Fostering student entrepreneurship with innovative start-ups

In January I thought up and started working on an incredibly exciting new initiative: helping students with start-up businesses. How? By finding, investing, mentoring (from start to grow to the high road), and providing support throughout the whole process.

Victoria has fantastically innovative, intelligent, creative students – we want to help them reach their potential. We want to continue building Victoria culture that fosters student entrepreneurship. A culture that positively enhances the environment we live in at the university, city, national and even international level.

VUWSA has never done anything like this before. Its structure isn’t set up for it. In this way a lot of my work has been to make sure the project works, while still fitting within our duties and obligations to you, our students.

Turns out it’s a much bigger project than I thought. I’ve spent the last eight months crawling through the highly technical and drier-than-a-dad joke areas of company and tax law; talking to businesspeople and students to get this off the ground at the VUWSA level. Each conversation has raised new questions, and each answer has led to something new – only adding to the plan.

I’m absolutely frothing to be able to say we’re almost there.

VUWSA is seeking some final professional advice to have a check over all the work that has been done so far, then we can kick off and start to work with students. I’m proud to say one student business is already talking with VUWSA, and we are actively seeking out more.

If you have a start-up idea you would like to talk about with VUWSA, drop me an email at treasurer@vuwsa.org.nz. I’m always available and eager to talk.

George Grainger

Treasurer-Secretary