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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 22. 1973

Stephen Chan Says — Cederella Needs new Clothes

Stephen Chan Says — Cederella Needs new Clothes

Dear Roger,

Drawing of a faceless figure holding paper

I was delighted by your article on NZUSA in the June 27 issue of Salient. No doubt this will serve to arouse much debate either for or against the Salient styled bureaucrats who inhabit NZUSA offices. I am only sorry that your article was so factually incorrect and that it saw fit to devolve from time to time into pettiness.

I shall answer your points one by one.

1)When a Salient staff member rang NZUSA offices enquiring about the number of university students in this country the NZUSA receptionist did not know. She passed the call on to an NZUSA officer who spent some time in compiling a comprehensive list of student numbers university by university. This list was given to your Salient reporter with the note-added that the numbers listed were for the end of 1972 as most universities had not yet themselves acquired final student numbers for 1973.
2)There is very fine liaison between NZUSA and its Student Travel Bureau. Ultimately it is hoped that the STB will become an independent agency but at this stage, in its first year under full time directorship, it is obviously premature to state that it should immediately become a separate entity. The STB has not been held back by NZUSA's petty wrangling. In fact NZUSA is very pleased with the way the STB is running.
3)The new salary structure for NZUSA officers is outlined below. President, $2500 + $1000+ $70 cost of living (no change); Education Vice President $2500 + $70 cost of living (no change). Any future officers who are elected as opposed to appointed will receive the basic $2500 plus cost of living increases. Education Research Officer, $3800 (formerly $3500); Arts Council Director $3800 (formerly $3000). Any future officers who are appointed will receive the basic $3800 plus future cost of living increases. Two appointed officers arc now paid on another level. Director STB $4300 (formerly $3500); administrative officer $4300 (formerly $3500). N.B. All cost of living increases require Executive clearance.

In your article you were at pains to state that David Cuthbert neither wanted nor needed the money. David has in fact accepted his well deserved rise in salary.

At a recent Victoria University Students Association Executive meeting I quite clearly explained that the question of salaries would have arisen at some imminent date any way. If I could take up your badly related example of STB, I should point out that this service to students is rapidly gaining gigantic proportions. David Cuthbert will not be director for ever. By the time he leaves the post, the operations of STB will be such that no amount of unskilled enthusiasm will be able to keep such high standards.

All elected officers of NZUSA will retain the same reasonably low salary. However, the NZUSA Council that fixed such "egalitarian" and unworkable salary structures built in a dichotomy between rates of pay for elected officers and appointed officers. The appointed officers were chosen by a committee set up to investigate their professional skills. These "professional" people were to have been paid $1000 more than the elected officers. This recognition of professionalism or whatever was advanced as an egalitarian exercise which failed to appreciate its inbuilt dichotomy. NZUSA has now simply exaggerated that dichotomy. It has not this year begun the wild exercise of differentiation between this salary and that salary. It has simply made more workable the badly conceived legacy it was saddled with.

4)Because NZUSA has now been able to decipher its accounts, it might now be possible to employ a full-time worker in international affairs. This of course does nothing for Joris de Bres who was, as you quite rightly mentioned, under paid.
5)You wrote that the last National Executive meeting was the scene of several exaggerated charges against the Director of the Student Travel Bureau. The fact that the NZUSA resolved quite firmly in favour of David's integrity hardly seems to fit in with your earlier point that there is nothing but petty wrangling between NZUSA and STB.
6)You write that NZUSA is now a residence for "ambitious student politicians." I assure you that the kind of person stupid enough to come to NZUSA can hardly be ambitious for anything else apart from his or her own loss of private life, interruption to studies and the delights of being a target for all manner of exciting criticism.
7)Your article stated that all the NZUSA Administrative Officer had to do to clear up the messy accounts from 1972 was to call in a team of accountants. These accountants in fact spent a total of just under six weeks to work through the complete wreckage that passed for bookkeeping and the filing of invoices last year. You might note that the Administrative Officer last year was paid even more than Sharyn Cederman despite Sharyn's recent increase in pay. Sharyn in fact spent some considerable time trying to piece the accounts together herself. However it became clear that if she was to keep up with the administration required for present NZUSA activities, somebody else had to clean up the mess from former years. The fact that it took qualified people so long to make sense of the NZUSA accounts only indicates that student money is actually wasted in the employment of enthusiastic, politically conscious incompetence.
8)As I made clear in a preceding paragraph, NZUSA is the last institute on earth that promoted status seekers. I have no idea where you got the impression that I "sought only an increase in my status by coming to work for NZUSA in Wellington." I have no idea either of how you discovered that the Presidents of Auckland and Canterbury were status seekers. Apparently a person can work as hard as he or she can on behalf of students but might still be damned for holding a different ideology. Just what do you know about the Auckland and Canterbury situations anyway?

Drawing of a faceless figure holding paper

9)In your article I believe you made some attempts at humorous commentary by describing Sharyn's obviously bourgeois origins in terms of her "fetching and stylish clothing." You were at pains to describe her "full length skirt, flattering bright yellow sweater, and latest style, form [unclear: ting] coat." Your eye was obviously [unclear: unatntive] as Sharyn's full length skirt is three years old, her bright yellow sweater is Four years old and her latest style form fitting coat is five years old.
10)You mentioned that I did not reply to your last article about NZUSA. You quoted me as saying "I don't think it was worth it." You will recall that my exact words were "How do you expect me to reply sensibly to such a radically vindictive article."
11)You constantly express the hope that Sharyn and I should resign. I should point out that it took several attempts and well towards the end of 1972, to find either a President or Administrative Officer for NZUSA. It seems that while multitudinous armchair critics have been stringing sentences together as proof of their basic educations, no-one was prepared to come in and attempt to run this monolith. The fact is that NZUSA is a monolith and the current personnel had nothing to do with making it such. The fact is that it had become an incredible, clumsy and badly ordered monolith that needed clearing up and this is what the current personnel has done.

As for your final point about cutting NZUSA in to autonomous sections, I am pleased to inform you that this is in fact almost exactly the case. Each one of NZUSA's divisions is given a separate annual budget. Moreover this year I have been quite confident that the various officers looking after the various divisions arc fully competent individuals. Consequently, they are not at all directed by myself but rather left to develop the fields that they are most expert in.

I hope this clears up a few points.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Chan.