Student mag casualty of VSM

As a former student magazine editor (holla Critic – Te Arohi) I am very sad to hear that MASSIVE magazine from Massey University has become a casualty of Voluntary Student Membership (VSM) after a proud heritage of 80 years.

Student media plays a vital role on campuses as the critic and conscience of the university and of students’ associations and is a great place for talented writers and designers to earn their stripes.

MASSIVE will be online-only after its final print issue comes out on February 26th. The decision to make this cut came directly as a result of the reduction in funding for students’ associations since the VSM bill passed back in 2011.

When it was being forced through the House, the Green Party strongly opposed the VSM bill. We knew the damaging effect it would have on the student voice, including student media. It’s sad to see MASSIVE become a victim of this.

There is real collective good to all students to having a high quality free student magazine available for free on campus. A well-funded students’ association can provide this. Unfortunately, under VSM, student associations are struggling to get by.

5 Comments Posted

  1. yeah student editors bastions of fairness and propriety.
    As M&M chronicled on their blog about the vicious wickedness against Madelaine Flannagan during her time at Otago by the editors of the rag. Mike

  2. I guess part of my issue is that, perhaps with a few exceptions, student associations didn’t seem to be doing much to inspire the democratic process to begin with.

    So what about students being able to vote if so few people can actually be bothered, or choose to do so? That type of system doesn’t result in a democratically representative body. It results in a bunch of student politicians who were very possibly elected by nobody except themselves and their friends, and at best represent a very small niche that can easily be completely un-representative of the bulk of those whose money is being siphoned in exchange for representation.

    If someone has the voter turnout figures for different universities pre-VSM then I’d certainly reconsider my opinion, but my introspective experience at Vic and anecdotes I’ve heard from other universities suggested that this is basically what was happening.

    I’m not completely turned off the idea of some sort of compulsory student membership, but I don’t think I’d support it without a serious constitutional re-think on how to ensure that it actually represents those being made to pay for it. I don’t know how to do this.

  3. I just learned that the section of the university that has assumed the rights to Massive’s online content in the post-VSM environment has already intervened on a couple of occasions to ask for changes to stories that are critical of Massey. A good example of how the democratic function of student media has been eroded.

  4. “When it was being forced through the House, the Green Party strongly opposed the VSM bill.”

    The results of the Massey University Students’ Association 2014 Executive election make disappointing reading, though.

    Of those elected to represent the entirity of students in a university (or at least those who care about being members of that association), the total votes received for the first three exec positions were 41, 24 and 19. The fourth position was undecided because two candidates tied on 14 votes.

    If this is the entirity of interest that a Students Association can rally on its own, why should students be forced to join and pay for it?

    I haven’t been a tertiary student since I was at Vic between 1997 and 2005, but during that time I ultimately resented being forced to pay for a student union that was so dominated by seemingly extremist student politicians. Salient just seemed like a huge waste of money to me — not specifically due to the content, but because the Student Union ensured it was gratuitously printed about 5 or 10 times as much as was probably needed, to the point that nobody would lift an eyelid against reading half an article then throwing it away, because they could just pick up a new copy 5 minutes later.

    Some facilities were good (like meeting rooms for affiliated clubs), but I think the strong political face of the whole thing made certain that the vast majority of actual students were absolutely disinterested. For the entire time that I was there, with forced student membership, I’m not sure that any VUWSA elections managed more than the lower end of a single digit percentage turnout. Most people simply paid up what they were forced to pay so the university would let them study, and tried to take no notice.

    I appreciate some of the stuff that student unions provide, but nobody should be forced to contribute to the political junk that so often comes with them. If the facilities are that important, then surely some other type of structure can be arranged?

  5. So it’s not stopping production, it hasn’t been closed down and there is no reduction on the ability of contributors to submit articles, the only thing that is happening is that the media of the current generation – on-line – has been adopted saving the costs of printing and distribution.

    Looks like a Ho-Hum to me. If there’s nothing more important than this for an MP to write about, it must be a good day in New Zealand.

    Some interesting statistics would be a) how many on-line readers there have been historically (available from a good ISP), and b) how many unopened copies have joined the land-fill (un-collectable data I’m afraid).

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