Whaleoil chats to an ex-member of the AUSA about the recent witch hunt of the AUESA

PHOTO from AUSA facebook page

Whaleoil: What year were you a member of AUSA and what did that involve for you?

Anonymous: I was involved in AUSA during the 2000’s in a number of ways including as an executive member. As with any student association or governance board, it involved attending governance meetings and contributing to decisions on spending student money. At the time the key issues related to voluntary student membership which passed by AUSA and the potential effects including risk aversion action by putting AUSA run enterprises into trusts.

Whaleoil: How do you feel about how AUSA 2017 handled the Auckland University European Student’s Association group?

Anonymous:?Poorly is probably an understatement. I find it difficult?to believe that they have issued only two statements in the last two years outside of election information and both are relating to a?club who may ‘potentially’ cause offence. Many clubs within AUSA could/should not exist if this is the yardstick you measure if a club should exist or be ‘allowed to be promoted.

A number of their current clubs have this ‘potential’ or do so in actuality. All religious clubs have the ‘potential’ to offend or alienate people and I won’t even mention the cultural appropriation of the clearly racist lacrosse club. Given the outcry when anyone dares to wear a native American headdress why not the same outcry for Lacrosse?? I imagine not many native Americans are in that uni club.

[*Lacrosse is a European appropriation of a traditional native American game.]

I think all should absolutely remain as clubs but it shows how crazy it is to advocate against a club on a ‘potentially harmful basis. While there may be other things behind all of this that haven’t been put in press releases, without any info it is just the proclaimed tolerant being intolerant.

Whaleoil: Do you think the same thing would have happened when you were a member or would it have been handled differently?

Anonymous: At the time AUSA were responsible for Club Orientation, where I understand this now sits with student services. There would have been strong and loud arguments, banging on tables and then they would have been allowed to go ahead until someone got either enough numbers to roll the executive or the club was not accepted as a club at the SRC meeting. There would have been no press release and I imagine the club would have been given a chance to show its intent. Probably a few articles or letters in Craccum for or against it but no direct media involvement. There were many clubs at the time that either existed to work the system for free stuff or that offended people – everybody had a view and argued but I can’t recall anything being stopped.

Whaleoil: Have students’ attitudes changed from when you were a student at Auckland University? If so how have they changed?

Anonymous:?Attitudes have changed in a number of ways. Most students are disinterested in politics or the left/right argument and just want to get their degrees, pay off their student loans and get into as little debt as possible during that time. A strong culture of go to class, work, sleep. Social media also plays a big part now so the small numbers who are active are often a vocal minority, sometimes running a flag up for the latest ’cause or ‘fad’. The most popular clubs at the time were the Meat Club or the Drinking Club which I doubt would even be allowed to exist anymore. From an executive perspective, I would suggest with no proof that the majority putting their hands up to govern AUSA are left leaning and being voted on in much smaller numbers. I’d be interested to see what proportion of all UoA student actually voted for the executive. Students have always had a level of apathy and it’s probably much worse now.

Whaleoil: You now work for a New Zealand?educational organisation. Do you think the same thing could happen where you work?

Anonymous:?Given that UoA student services granted the student club permission to set up at orientation and it was only the pressure from AUSA and Media and the correlated threats to members of the club that stopped it I would suggest that it would have gone ahead. In fact, I would suggest that this wouldn’t have been an issue at any other university in New Zealand.

Whaleoil: I am publishing your responses anonymously. Do you think there would be pushback or issues for you where you work if your name was used? If there would be, why do you think that would be?

Anonymous:?There are official channels for media responses for most organisations and I am happy to keep it that way. I guess I’m a reasonably private person who often watches from the sideline – one of ‘potentially’ the silent majority and prefer to stay that way. I guess I feel strongly enough for a change to answer your questions but fear if there have already been threats to the club that my view will automatically be associated with the club and I fear that threats or repercussions would come my way too from inside and outside my organisation. Sometimes it’s easier to not say something no matter how innocuous or with no harmful intention as it may offend!