Funding of Student Culture
With this week’s topic being “Culture”, I thought I’d go a little more specific and talk about Student Culture. With this being politics, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about the funding of student culture. Who should be doing it? What should it involve?
Before we go any further, I am going to declare my bias. I am strongly involved with student radio on campus and have been for about two years. Just something for people who aren’t sure who I am.
Before we can discuss the funding of student culture, we need to think about what student culture is. Unfortunately, at Waikato, student culture seems to have become downing a box of beer in an hour or two, going to dirty bars that say they’re “Hamilton’s Student Bar” and attempting to either get laid or throw in some public projectile vomiting. That’s not culture. That’s a mess.
What should student culture be then? Town is part of student culture, as long as you’re doing it right (see http://wp.me/p1Dn3I-nf). However, there’s more to student culture than town. Music is part of it. Involvement with campus life is also part of it. New Zealand doesn’t really get the idea of having a campus culture. Look at the US. They get university pride and having a culture on campus. But just because New Zealand doesn’t do campus culture doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aiming for it.
But who should be paying for this stuff? Should it be the university? The students’ associations? The students themselves? The communities around the students? In my opinion, it should be all of the above. All of these institutions and groups have a part to play in getting a real student culture into not just Hamilton but all cities with major universities. However, if a campus like Waikato, that is relatively detached from the rest of Hamilton, can’t do it, how can we expect a campus like the University of Auckland has, which is in the centre of the city to get a proper culture on campus?
Sure, there’s campus club funding by WSU, but what about funding beyond that? Currently, the university has the student services levy that they charge every student. With that money, the University contracts WSU to provide student services. But (and this isn’t going to be very popular in the Nexus office) why does that entire amount need to be given to WSU to be the gatekeeper? It is very possible, but very difficult, for individuals to get grants through WSU. Look at the Debating Society, for example. They try to get to competitions around the country and even overseas. It would be great if individuals going to that could go to a university fund to help fund that. But that fund doesn’t exist, and WSU would see that as further funding for the Debating Society. Sure, they can do that, but they are less likely to (and having spoken to people at the Debating Society, they’ve been in that exact position and WSU has refused to fund them).
I do think it should be a collaborative effort. It’s not WSU’s sole responsibility, nor is it the university’s. Everyone on campus benefits when student culture is improved. So let’s do something about this, guys!