The editors of Victoria University student magazine Salient have been unable to access their operational budget for the past four publication weeks, or have proper equipment to produce content. Archives remain missing from the magazine’s new website.
The troubles originated with Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association’s (VUWSA) decision to shut down Salient FM last November.
The Salient Charter of VUWSA’s Constitution says that while the association “has the right to expect reasonable coverage of the year’s priority”, Salient’s editors “retains control of the form that this coverage takes” and they “shall determine the form and content” without political interference.
However, Salient editors Rachel Trow and Kirsty Frame said they have not been consulted on the removal of FM, as they were informed of the decision during their job interview and asked to bring up alternatives.
“We don’t think [not completing a self-review is] grounds enough to hold one expectation of one year accountable for the entirety of a platform.
“What we presumed is there was a due process behind FM being shut down.”
“The way that [Tucker] said was so casual it made us think that everything had already been settled. We were just looking towards a solution.”
Tamatha Paul, VUWSA President in 2019, confirmed to Craccum that there had been a discussion on how Salient should be run as a service, but decisions regarding the magazine were still made by the executive.
Tucker told Salient early March that Salient FM was shut down because the magazine did not complete their self-review last year. Kii Small, Salient’s 2019 editor, denied this. Tucker also claimed VUWSA “has not saved money through this process” and is spending more on Salient “than ever”.
Trow and Frame told Craccum that Tucker only emailed a simple spreadsheet of the magazine’s budget after weeks of asking, before it disappeared. He was not responsive for further requests of the information.
“We need permission for every single purchase we make, from dishwashing liquid to pens.”
Equipment from FM have also been disposed of by VUWSA, making Salient incapable of starting a podcast service. However, the podcast manager was only informed about this by Tucker just 10 days before the first edition of the year was due.
The editors were kept in the dark throughout the whole process and were expected to set up Salient Cast to be sustainable for the next decade.
“Had the VUWSA CEO told us sooner that he had thrown out all of Salient FM’s equipment and his larger plan for how he would dictate Salient’s form, the equipment would have arrived much sooner.”
“It has created serious issues for Salient Cast and Salient as independent media in general.”
“We expected to be starting the year off with a range of shows, however, with a single Tascam and mic shared between Salient TV and Salient Casts, this has been impossible.”
“Our podcast manager has had to use his own personal equipment. The content is also edited on his own computer and the personal computer of another contributor.”
“This equipment has been ordered but it has not arrived. Due to the lockdown we probably won’t have this equipment until next trimester (May) at the earliest.”
Responding to Craccum, Tucker said he was not aware that personal devices were used to produce Salient Cast, while budget lines were sent as recently as mid-February.
VUWSA also updated Salient‘s website during the summer, but archives from the old server were not transferred, resulting in work from 2004-2019 going missing from the website.
Salient’s editors said Tucker never explained why the archives were not uploaded to the new website, but only asked them to pitch him a plan and fee to upload the archives. Some of the archives are now hosted in a temporary website in text-only form.
“It is incredibly unfair for the VUWSA CEO to limit student’s access to their own work.”
“Students put thousands of voluntary hours into Salient every year and taking the tangible results of their work away from them is not in the interest of students.”
Tucker told Craccum the old Salient website has been online all the time and there are plans to upload old Salients to electronic publishing platform ISSUU.
“VUWSA would also like to upload copies of Saleint from 2004 to when ISSUU started being used, but Salient’s computer system does not contain any information from that time.”
“The reason we have not published the URL is because the URL is likely to change. The most sensible link would be to use ISSUU.”
Trow and Frame disagreed.
“Even after our first emails pressing Matt to allow us to restore the archives, he neglected to tell us that the old website had been preserved.”
“Matt may consider broken URLs and void CVs a non-issue. Regardless, Salient values students and believes that they should have access to the material they have worked tirelessly to create, usually for free.”
“Further, ISSUU is not a searchable format and can only link to full magazines, not individual pieces, which is useless for students’ portfolios.”