Some background in this student election season
If you have managed to survive this far into 2023, and you have managed to pick up this Craccum, you have to have at least heard of the Auckland University Students’ Association. But, I am sure I can claim with reasonable certainty that most of you have very little knowledge of what AUSA actually is.
AUSA was established and continues to be run by its Constitution, which was last updated a few years ago. A predictably dry read that opens with the equivalent “The name of the organisation is AUSA, and the name of the organisation will be AUSA, being the name by which it is known.” Riveting.
Just eleven long pages later, that same charter sets out the association’s officers and also the executive. The difference? The officers are a legal requirement, but otherwise fulfil largely the same role as the executive, and are indeed part of it. They have to act in good faith, ensure the association works to a profit and consult with the advisory board when making large decisions.
The first time you’ve heard about another board? Members of the board are appointed on three-year terms by the executive. They provide advice as they see fit and otherwise exist to ensure that bad debts don’t mean Shadows almost has to close its doors for good, again. But that’s a story for another time.
To anyone that asks, what has AUSA ever done for us? The answer is recorded lectures. In a time when there is larger than ever push back against recordings, AUSAis your ally in keeping them. They petitioned and garnered the Covid Grade Bump for any student who has been around long enough to remember it (Yes, 2020 was three years ago); and they took a stand against white supremacy on Campus when the Vice-Chancellor refused to acknowledge its existence in 2019.
In the end, you might not think they affect your life, but they do.
We all know about the army of student reps it organises. And I am unsure if people understand the considerable effort required to schedule and hold meetings, considering there’s at least 200 courses that start with the letter A. But AUSA also owns campus staple Shadows, and has an ownership role in Ubiq. It’s their job to maintain the flow of finances that keeps you coming out and your textbooks coming in.
Or what about their advocacy service? Got a problem you want to take to the manager? they have got you covered; Student hardship fund? That little bit extra to make ends meet; Events funding for O Week? It would not happen without them; 95bFM? You’ll be forgiven for not knowing the name of our student radio station, but now’s the chance to listen in as students take on politicians, various local artists are spotlighted, and the next big stars get their start.
And then of course, Craccum. Although some money is provided by the University, ultimately we are at the mercy of our union. But don’t let that draw up any ideas of journalist dependence, we are free to produce any content we see as reasonable.
A lot of history runs through the last few decades of Student Unions, so part two will be on the way. And get out and vote for your executive before Friday, they do carry power.