By Mackenzie Dyer
After a somewhat turbulent year for the Albany Student’s Association, the student body has spoken and named Jason Woodroofe as their new president for 2018. It does not take long to realise Jason is a passionate politics major, a true Northlander from his op-shop shirts to bare-feet, and uses a skateboard as a fifth limb. But what does Woodroofe have to offer Albany students as the new President of ASA.
What drove you to apply for the ASA presidency?
I spent the whole year looking from the outside into all of the issues the ASA were having, and came to the conclusion that I had no right to complain about what’s going on without stepping up and offering to solve it myself, so here I am.
What issues struck you the most?
The two main issues that I think really hinder student life on the Albany campus is the low participation in events, and an extension of that, the lack of student culture we have. In terms of increasing student participation, I think the events and prizes that the ASA puts on actually have to reflect student interests. For example, getting a green t-shirt is cool, but I think students would be more willing to participate if we were giving out Snow Planet and Westfield vouchers which aren’t actually that hard to organise. Prizes for events should be what students actually want, and more exciting than a pack of stationery. Increasing a sense of campus culture ties in closely with student participation, and one of the ways I hope to achieve this is by collaborating closely with other on-campus groups such as Te Waka Ō Ngā Ākonga Māori and Te Ohanga accommodation village. I don’t see why the whole student body can’t have a culture as strong, if not stronger than these groups, and I have already taken steps towards this collaboration.
The complaint that echoes throughout campus is for more parking spaces. Any plans to fix this?
My focus will be improving the shuttle bus system and exploring better public transport options, but sadly Massey has the final say on the parking issue. I assure you I’m just as bummed about having to drive in circles for half-an-hour before class just as much as everyone else.
Do you think Massey should be smoke-free?
Yes, the majority of campus should be. However, smoking is someone’s choice, and we should still cater for them. Vaping on the other-hand…
ASA has had an Engineering student as their president for the last six years, what do you think a BA Politics and Security Studies undergrad can provide for students that they couldn’t?
I’m not going to sit here and bag engineers, I think they’ve done a really good job running the ASA. There are obviously a lot of things about the job that I don’t even know yet too, so it is probably too early to judge. However, in terms of dealing with some of the larger organisations through the ASA, I think a touch of diplomacy is needed, and I hope that’s an asset I can bring to the table.
Do you cop a lot of flak for studying a BA?
Nah mate, it stands for best academic. We are the arguers and the critical thinkers, you’ll never win a pub argument against us.
How do you think being the President of the Politics Club this year has prepared you for being ASA’s president?
The most important thing I learnt from that was to not just dismiss people who disagree with you, but to sit down and listen to them. Half the time people just want to have their opinions heard and understood, and the rest of the time, you might just learn something.
Many students were shocked to hear that the ASA had voted for their Executive to get a $26,000 pay rise, do you believe this justified?
This was all discussed at the annual general meeting last semester, and the overall consensus was for the price increase. The students are the ones who voted for it to get passed, so I was confused that it caused such a stir. The important thing to remember is that the current exec voted not to increase their own pay, but the pay of proceeding executives, based off the issues they encountered this year. With the increase, there have been more jobs added to our portfolios too, so I don’t really think it’s unjustified. I think it will be good to ease some financial worry for the executive, as for example I’ll be doing an 18 hour week and am planning to juggle some part time work on top of that. So while I’m grateful for the increase, I still think it is proportionate to the bigger work-load.
Would you have seen yourself in this role back in high-school?
Seeing as I left school at 16, I really didn’t see myself doing much other than making coffee and wiping tables. It sunk in quickly that this wasn’t really for me, so I enrolled in a foundations studies course when I was 17. Then I came to Massey, studying security studies, history and philosophy, but my intro to politics elective in my first year won me over, and I’ve been here ever since.
Is there anything you are apprehensive about when going into next year?
I’m a bit nervous to see if I can actually increase student participation, but at the end of the day, I think anything will be a step-up from random barbecues.
Any plans for after university?
I’m going to live the drop-outs dream and travel the world. Or become Prime Minister. Meh, no biggy.
Quick fire questions
Ardern or English?
Does Pineapple belong on Pizza?
Yes. 100% per cent.
Drink of choice?
Laneway or RnV?
Vikings or Game of Thrones?
Game of Thrones, but the books.
Coffee or tea?
Let’s just say my coffee machine will be coming with me to the office.
Worst Meme of 2017?
I don’t read memes, I read the news to nurture the 40-year-old man that lives within me.
– Jason is set to begin his year as ASA President in the early months of next year.