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Student levy discussed at forum

By Nikki Papatsoumas

Student President Adam Logan Cairns says he is disappointed by the dismal turnout at the recent Massey Student Forum.

Earlier this month roughly 20 students met for the Massey Student Forum, which was led by campus registrar Deanna Riach in the Campus Co-Lab space in the Student Service Trust building.

The meeting gave students an opportunity to share their feedback as to how the university should spend the compulsory student levy.

The levy, part of compulsory student services fees, contributes to making a range of support services available to all students according to need.

Services planned to be delivered to students include health and welfare, sport and recreation, career and employment-related services, pertinent student information, financial support and advice, advocacy, counselling and pastoral care.

Cairns, Massey at Wellington Students’ Association (MAWSA) President, says a turnout of just 20 students is disappointing, to say the very least.

“It’s crucial to have as many students as we can, it’s the direct link to the campus registrar, and if there aren’t enough students there, there is not much of a voice to make some real changes.”

He says students are not to blame as many don’t realise how crucial these meetings are.

“If you want to make a change and if you want your voice heard you need to attend these meetings.”

Despite the meagre turnout, the debate surrounding student health and counselling was at the top of everyone’s list at the forum earlier this month, says Cairns.

In particular students say they would like to see at least one free counselling session offered to them. Counselling sessions in Wellington are currently $5 per session.

Currently, $885,000 is earmarked towards counselling and health services for the Wellington campus as part of the 2017 levy budget.

A decision was made at the meeting to look into whether or not it would be feasible to offer one-off free counselling sessions to students.

MAWSA’s Acting Association Manager Tim Kendrew says the turnout may be disappointing — but it isn’t surprising.

“This is one of the few opportunities students get to ask questions about how their fees are spent, and we believe it is important for the university to actively consult and engage with students on this,” he says.

“We know students genuinely care about both the services available on campus, and the way their fees are spent, but they don’t have enough opportunities to ask questions, and when they do have that opportunity, they don’t know about it.”

Tim says he would like to see the university hold forums more frequently, and would also like to see better engagement carried out with students.

“It would also be great to see some more in depth breakdowns of the figures, and to release these before the meetings so students can come prepared to talk about specific areas,” he says.

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