Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 10. 23rd May 1973
NZUSA The Fashion Parade Must Stop
NZUSA The Fashion Parade Must Stop
The soporific calm of NZUSA's May Council was relieved for a while at the plenary session when the credibility of President Stephen Chan was seriously questioned by a group led by VUWSA's occasionally fiery president Peter Wilson In secrecy (in committee the bureaucrats call it) a motion had gone through the National Commission upping the salary of NZUSA Administrative Officer, Sharyn Cederman. She was formerly on $3,500 per year. The motion raised her salary to $4,300 by adding a $800 per year tax free expense account.
This motion slipped past the dull-witted delegates, but was picked up before the end of the meeting. Wilson satirised the motion by proposing salary increases for all NZUSA appointees. His motion to this effect made no headway as everybody knows that NZUSA has bugger all money and can't organise the little it has to pay the underlings who actually do all the work. But after a while Wilson's point got through, that if Cederman deserved the money then so too did a lot of other people.
Delegates however would not admit their mistake, and when Victoria suggested that the motion upping Sharyn's wages be recommitted the embarassed delegates started talking about having planes to catch and 'could we get on to the next business'. Russell Bartlett, president of Auckland (where Sharyn happens to come from) was noticeably disconcerted and mumbled through his moustache about Victoria's "Mickey Mouse" economics. Bob Lack, who has been touted as Auckland's (tame) left winger, became snarly as if he too had something to hide.
Bartlett became even more upset when Wilson demanded that the secret reasons for Sharyn Cederman's raise be made public. Other well known right wing student leaders joined in the attempt to put down Vic's pleas for open discussion. Stephen Chan tried desperately hard to be "so cool" in his chair but his gavel rattled noticeably. He refused to accept to recommit the motion, and tried to quell the clamour for honesty.
The right wingers won the day and the debate was silenced with Chan's gravel, sounding more and more like the fasces. The delegates were divided —Waikalo offered support and Otago wanted the whole matter of salaries subjected to full investigation. Individuals came up to Wilson later and said "I'd like to support you, but..." On the other side some of the student leaders revealed that they were just in it to feather their mate's nest and their own while playing a game of "Shareholders Board Meeting". Chan in particular came out of it badly as the reasons for the Cederman raise emerged. Chan, it seems, would be "all of a muddle" were Sharyn to leave NZUSA, and that's what she proposed to do it-she didn't get a raise. She's been offered another job and dedication or loyalty to the student apparently doesn't come into it.
Sharyn, who by the look of her spends all her money on clothes and make-up, came to NZUSA from a job in merchant banking. She also came to the job as the co-editor of the book that is the light of Women's Liberation in N.Z: "Sexixt Society". There's no contradiction there — despite the fact that all the other analysts of women's oppression conclude that capitalism is at the root of it, this fact was missing from the book that Sharyn co-edited. But if she wasn't a contradiction when she took on the job, she sure is now. Its bad enough that her only attachment to the job is so obviously money and the status. What's worse is that she's going around saying that she wants monetary compensation for being frustrated because she thinks that in her position she mustn't express her political views! As if she had any coherent views! And as if she is expected to stifle them in her job as Administrative Officer to the NZUSA! It is also interesting that in the finance and Administration Commission, after asking for her $20 per week increase in salary, Cederman suggested that the office staff of NZUSA be taken off their present State Service rates. Then she said each employee should be judged on their individual merits and paid accordingly, thus removing security from NZUSA's workers.
If paying such big wages as we do attracts such a chaotic, self seeking A.O. as we seem to have in Sharyn Cederman, and attracts such a crypto fascistic President as Chan who needs her as a prop, then perhaps the wages should be cut drastically, so at least we have people dedicated to the job and to students.
Student interest in NZUSA is at an all-time low, and it is because of such selfish, secretive bureaucrats as Cederman and Chan. Perhaps the only good thing they will do in office is to aggravate student to such a pitch that they will be thrown out, if they don't resign first in a fit of pique.