Students at Victoria University have constructed a ‘Box University’ within the Murphy Overbridge, overlooking Kelburn Parade, to raise awareness and organise against the cuts and attacks which University management are undertaking against staff and students.
The box university is a rare chance for students to creatively construct and engage with what we want Victoria to look like. The box uni is an environment conducive to critical thinking and free thought, something that management has denied students.
“This University is funded by ten’s of millions of dollars of public money, through taxes or directly through student loans and yet we have no say over what happens in our name and with our money,” says Shannon Keast – student and Site Manager of the Box Uni.
Victoria University management have been cutting resourcing and staffing throughout various university departments for more than half a decade now and students and staff are seeing the effects all around the Uni.
The International Relations programme is being fundamentally reshaped, against staff wishes and in the face of over 1000 students who have signed a petition against the changes. The Certificate in University Preparation, VUW’s bridging course is also being cut, with staff handed out redundancy notices for February 2012.
“People who have tried to engage with the changes or express their thoughts have been bullied by management. I’m really excited to be engaging with other students to find a creative way forward for Vic” says Bronte, student and spokesperson for the group.
Students will be staying overnight and have planned lectures, boardgames and wider discussions about the direction of the university.
This article by Jared Phillips first appeared in the June 2011 issue of The Spark.
This year New Zealand electors will vote in a national referendum, held as part of the general elections, asking them firstly to indicate whether they want to change from MMP, and secondly to indicate their preferred electoral system. The other options are First Past the Post (FPP), Preferential Voting (PV), Single Transferable Vote (STV), and Supplementary Member (SM). If a majority votes in favour of retaining MMP that decision will be binding. However, if a majority votes against retaining MMP, there will be a further referendum in 2014 whereby electors will decide between MMP and whichever alternative procedure gains the most support in the 2011 referendum. If a new system is selected in 2014 it will come into effect at the 2017 election.
Real advanced democracy can only be imposed and administered by the majority of working people through a workers‘ government. In the current period though, in which the working class has clearly not yet recovered organisationally or politically from the onslaught of neo-liberalism, it is important to ensure that the electoral system offering the most democratic electoral procedure prevails. From this point of view it is in the best interests of the working people and oppressed groups to retain MMP.
The grounding of the Rena containter ship 20kms off the coast of Taurunga last Wednesday is having an environmental impact across the coastal area of the Bay of Plenty. The government itself has admitted that this is New Zealand’s worst maritime environmental disaster. We encourage all Welllington readers to head to the protest against the government’s response and against policies which put profits ahead of the environment.
When: Thursday October 13, 12pm-1pm
Where: Corner or Grey Street and Lambton Quay
- The immediate deployment of boons and oil scooping equipment around
the ship and around the trailing oil spill at sea – not toxic
dispersants of simple beach clean-ups
- An emergency system for dealing with the containers spilling toxic
- An immediate moratorium on offshore drilling
All groups and individuals welcome, particularly affected iwi and communities. Please distribute this event information widely.
This article will appear in the November issue of The Spark
In Marxist theory, commodity fetishism describes the mystification of social relations between people to objectified relations between things. While the actual value of a product is equivalent to the amount of labour that went into it, products are seen to have a greater value than they actually do. Its because of this that products can be sold at a price much higher than they cost to produce, the difference between the actual use value of a product and its price is surplus value, value that is expropriated by the owners of the means of production.
Marx took the term fetishism from the concept of objects being seen to have some mystical proprieties, such as those objects used in religious ceremonies. There are situations where commodities seem to embody both these types of fetishism; “These products have significant emotional value, they have sentimental value, they’re connected, if you will, to the bloodstream of the person who’s likely to be the purchaser,” those were the words of Michael Bernacchi, a marketing professor at the University of Detroit Mercy commenting on Apple products after the death of CEO Steve Jobs.
We’re here because we’re angry. Our anger should not come as a surprise, in fact its long over-due; the ministry has consecutively failed, year after year, in its legal care-of-duty to provide safe and affirming environments for their students.
In the last few elections the Workers Party has stood candidates in a number of electorates. In the 2008 election we became a registered party after signing up over 500 members and we were therefore able to stand a party list. The intention of standing in the elections was to try and raise the profile of both socialist ideas and our own organisation. The 2008 election gave quite clear evidence that this strategy wasn’t working with not only an extremely low vote but also the fact that the campaign did not win people over to our politics. This opinion was universal within the organisation prior to January this year. The party has no policy against standing in local or general elections under different circumstances such as increased class activity or increased support for the organisation or individual members who may find good opportunities to stand as candidates.
Ian Anderson, member of Workers Party and The Spark editorial board. Originally printed in the October Spark.
Recently Nick Maryatt, Green Party candidate for Hamilton East, suggested in a blog post that Labour voters were switching to the Greens because they are the “real opposition” to attacks by National. Maryatt is aligned with workers movement issues and has participated in the Hamilton Left Initiative, a non-sectarian left group which also involves members of the Workers Party. Radicals must develop a clear analysis of the Greens, given both their relationship to ruling-class parties, and with the left.
The Green Party of New Zealand first entered parliament in 1996 as a part of the Alliance, at that time a coalition of parties opposed to neo-liberalism. Green Party ideology was informed by international green politics, described in its most conservative parliamentary form by the recent slogan “some things are bigger than politics.” This means they would work with a range of forces, including ruling class parties, to achieve environmental reform.
Byron Clark, Workers Party Christchurch branch organiser. Originally published in the October Spark.
A common view of political parties in New Zealand’s parliament holds that ACT is the worst of the lot, followed by National, Labour as the “lesser evil” with The Greens as not-perfect but essentially good. This approach ignores the question of what power and influence these parties hold (or lack there of). There is almost insignificant support for ACT in both the general population and the ruling class. While ACT may present its plans for New Zealand as a free-market paradise for capitalists, the number of donations from corporations and wealthy individuals received by ACT pales in comparison to those received by National and Labour.