A strong campaign by staff and students has won back democratically elected seats on Victoria University’s governing council.
The council announced this week that there will be two seats under its newly restructured model for students, and two for current academic staff. All four of those council positions will be elected.
TEU branch co-president Wayne Linklater says the decision is a victory for democracy at the university. Under the university’s initial proposal, staff and students would have been appointed rather than elected to council.
Linklater says that hundreds of staff and students told the council that appointing rather than electing would be undemocratic.
“We had petitions, submissions and many people speaking face-to-face with council members, arguing for the right to vote for our representatives.”
TEU wanted general staff as well as academic staff to have the opportunity to stand for a seat on council, however this proposal only allows academic staff to stand.
“It is unsatisfactory that general staff have been disenfranchised,” says TEU’s other branch co-president Frances Matheson.
General staff will get to vote on the academic staff members to council, and some may get the opportunity to stand for alumni positions on council, but they will not be allowed to stand in their own right.
Matheson says the final proposal is much better than the initial proposal because it allows for elections. It also ensures good representation of women and Māori on council.
The council’s new model will require at least two members to be Māori and at least five must be women. It also requires at least two graduates of the university.
If the council does not have that balance of diversity and representation it will be required to publish an explanation of the reasons why it does not.
“We can work with the current model for now, but we will continue to campaign for general staff to have the right to stand for a council seat alongside our academic colleagues,” says Matheson.