President's update – June 2016

Kia ora everyone

This month I had the honour of watching nearly 3,000 graduates walk across stage at eight ceremonies, including Te Hui Whakapūmau and Pasifika Graduation Celebration.

Seeing the Wellington CBD at a standstill as we marched to Civic Square really shows how much of an impact students (and grads) have on this City. Our impact means that a student voice on local issues is important if we are to influence change. This month, we’ve been exercising that student voice while we’ve been pushing for a tertiary discount on public transport.

In the midst of graduations, we were pleased to have mayoral candidate, Justin Lester, and regional councillor Daran Ponter commit to Fairer Fares, a cause we’ve been campaigning for several years now. We’ll be calling for other candidates to make the same commitment in the upcoming local body elections.

In the meantime, we’ve been lobbying Greater Wellington Regional councillors to support Fairer Fares. Welfare Vice President, Rory Lenihan-Ikin, and I made an oral submission to the Regional Council on the 2016/2017 Annual Plan. While we were supportive of their vote to introduce a 25% discount in 2014 (which also sought financial contributions from the City Council and tertiary institutions to pay for it), we expressed disappointment that despite this support, Fairer Fares was still not a reality. Byron Oosthuizen, the student who started the change.org petition, also joined us and presented his 3,587-strong petition in support of a tertiary discount.

Despite pushing our case for a tertiary discount in the 2016/17 Annual Plan, an amendment to make the tertiary discount a reality within the next year was voted down by councillors. If the Council truly valued students, Fairer Fares for us to get to class would be a priority. Unfortunately, the Regional Council has failed to stand up for students.

It is pretty undisputed that students create a significant impact in adding to the vibrancy and wealth to the Wellington region. The way we packed Civic Square at the end of the graduation parade proves our impact. VUWSA alone cannot achieve Fairer Fares for students. We need students to realise their power and make some noise around pushing for a student-friendly Wellington. We’re in the process of building our vision for a student-friendly Wellington, and I want to hear what this means to you.

Email me at president@vuwsa.org.nz to let me know how students can be a more integral part of this City.

Jonathan Gee – President