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GYRO Free Issue #7 POLITICS: STUDENT EDITION Otago Polytechnic Magazine


EDITORIAL

PRESIDENT

Dear Reader,

Politics is one of those subjects that people find hard to get interested in…but when you see “STUDENTS FACE FINANCIAL HARDSHIP” or “CHANGES TO THE STUDENT LOAN SCHEME” or “REDUCTION TO STUDENT ALLOWANCES” in the newspaper headlines, I bet your heads turn and you start to read, because these are issues that we as a study body are having to face on a yearly basis.

So the changes to student loans and allowances are kind of bad. The members of National received a free education and are now giving tax cuts to the top 10% of earners (costing $1.1 billion in its first nine months 2010/11). Yet we’re supposedly so heavy in debt we need to cut spending on education ostensibly to provide students with a flourishing economy when they graduate.Yet education is an area of investment that facilitates economic growth – intelligent, educated people entering the workforce, starting businesses. And this is when 15% of students have been found to be in dire financial straits. But let’s be honest. The student allowance system gets pretty exploited. I’ve known people who’ve parents don’t support them at all, yet they can’t get the allowance because their parents’ incomes are too high. And then people whose parents own well off farms but can make the accounting look like they don’t get any money. And also, why is the allowance MORE than living costs? That doesn’t make an iota of sense. But I do worry about the cases where these changes are really going to hurt the individual. Many students will absorb the changes or be unaffected. But some won’t. One individual I heard about, a 4th year student who is also a solo, full-time father, is already working 12 hours a week to support himself and his child. Before the changes he received $293.58/week from the Government. That is going to decrease to $172.51. The only way to wrangle finishing his Law, Psychology and Business Management degrees would be to work 20 hours a week. Doing a full-time degree, being a full-time parent and working 20 hours a week… that’s a bit much don’t you think? Finally, when will these changes stop? When interest comes back on the loan, like John Banks is talking about? But National have their justifications, apparently. Read on and make up your own mind. Sincerely,

The latest issues that we have been hit with are proposed changes to the student loan scheme and the eligibility for the student allowance. See page three for more details. What are your opinions on these changes? How do you think these will affect you as a student? Feel free to let us know at president@ opsa.org.nz Rebecca Hohaia, OPSA President

Kari Schmidt

Credits: Editor: Kari Schmidt Head designer: Mark Baxter Design: Nick Guthrie, Jon Thom, Bart Acres, Dave Strydom Words: Kari Schmidt, Rebecca Hohaia, Margot Taylor, Callum Fredric, Dan Benson-Guiu, Emily Menkes, Beau Murrah, Loulou Callister-Baker, Charlotte Doyle Misc: Lena Plaksina, Georgia Glass, Dave Strydom, Leoni Schmidt

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As some of you may or may not be aware there have been a number of concerning student issues that have hit the media within the last month. The first was the increasing need for student assistance within an institution and the assistance that we here at OPSA provide for you all. If you are having any sort of trouble at home or here at tech then pop on up to see us and we’ll see what we can do.

www.GYRO.org.nz Editor gyro@opsa.org.nz Technical mark.baxter@op.ac.nz Advertising advertise@gyro.org.nz Published by OPSA Copyright (C) OPSA 2012 A member of ASPA


BIG DRAMA: CHANGES TO STUDENT LOANS & ALLOWANCES By Margot Taylor

The recent changes to the Student Loan Scheme are a hot topic.The papers are full of it and it seems that every man and his dog have an opinion on the up and coming national budget. However, it is easy to get lost in the over whelming numbers and the ‘he said she said’ bickering of political parties. So here it is, the concrete facts about what exactly has changed within the student loan scheme and the reasons that have been provided. Graduate students will now begin paying back their student loans from a lower income rate; however the amount that we have to pay back within each dollar we earn has also increased. From 2013 on New Zealand graduates will have to repay their loans at 12% as opposed to 10% if they are receiving an income above $19,084. The average New Zealand salary is approximately $37,000 and graduates will have to pay 29.5 cents from every dollar towards tax and loan repayments. The loan repayment incentive scheme (where you could receive a 10% discount on your loan, if you paid it in full within a certain amount of time) is also likely to be cut, despite this being a policy instituted by National in the first place. Minister Stephen Joyce has suggested that these changes will be helpful for students, as their loans will inevitably be paid off faster. However, loans will continue to remain interest free for students while studying. The infamous student allowance will also undergo changes to its eligibility criteria. The only change that has so far been announced is that students who have been studying for four or more years will no longer be able to receive an allowance of any amount (though note, you will still be able to borrow for living expenses – you’ll just have to pay it back eventually). There will also be a four year freeze on the parental income threshold for

eligibility to student allowances (i.e. the threshold won’t increase for the next four years). There is currently $12 billion owing in student debt. It has been suggested that the changes will not only reduce $250 million from this amount but also save the government $60 million a year. The money saved is expected to remain within the student sector going towards what Joyce called “actual tertiary space” rather than literally in students’ bank accounts. This claim counteracts arguments that students will be discouraged, if not unable to begin study and those who wish to complete more than four years of study will no longer have a financial benefit in doing so.

Loan repayment rate up 20% Allowance slashed by 1 year OPSA President Rebecca Hohaia, however, further questioned the beneficial impact that these changes will have on students, stating “The changes in the scheme are going to negatively affect New Zealand as a whole. It is not only the student body of the nation affected by this, but it is also graduates, people with families they need to support. Increasing the repayment rate, while the cost of living continues to increase and at a time where wages are barely increasing is going to make it so that more New Zealanders struggle week to week to survive”.

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Student Loan / Allowance Changes: THE LABOUR PERSPECTIVE By staff reporter

Unsurprisingly Labour is opposed to the changes in student loans and allowances instituted in the last few weeks by the National government,Young Labour “[calling] on the Maori Party to oppose any[further restrictions on access to student allowances]” and to even give a vote of no confidence in Parliament. Morehu Rei,Young Labour Vice President, considers this “yet another kick in the gut to students by this National Government, many of whom rely on their student allowance to buy the essentials; accommodation, transport and food.” Rei believes the changes will simply result in less students, young people choosing not to study so as to avoid “an often insurmountable student loan.” Either that or they will simply leave New Zealand after their degrees, thereby avoiding all responsibility. A fact he deems unacceptable given New Zealand has one of the “highest rates of young people not in work education or training”, especially given that National was elected on the basis they promised to help “Maori and Pasifika achievement.” Rei

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considers that Maori, particularly from poorer areas, will be the ones most affected. Rei concludes, “The National Government have been elected on a commitment to building a brighter future. But with more and more cuts to education from Early Childhood to Tertiary making life harder for ordinary young Kiwis, you can’t help but ask ‘who exactly is the brighter future for?’” The greater Labour party have expressed similar concerns, Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Grant Roberston asserting that students will be more likely to move to Australia to study (Australia requires repayment of only 4% on an income over $48,000, compared to the 12% National are suggesting over income $19,084). Robertson states, “Graduates are also parents, looking to buy homes and or start families. This will act as a disincentive for them to stay in New Zealand.” Robertson is also concerned that cutting student allowances to four years will make postgraduate study more difficult, especially for those on a low to modest income. Steven Joyce has recognised that 4000 to 5000 postgraduate students will no longer be eligible for the allowance. Robertson queries, “Is the government really saying that it only wants people from wealthy backgrounds to take post graduate study?” Robertson also questions the fairness of the policy, asking whether “the students of tomorrow are paying the price for the students of yesterday who haven’t paid their loan?”


Student Loan / Allowance Changes: THE NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE By Callum Fredric

The current student loan system has its merits. The government provides every student with a loan to cover their living costs, so everyone has enough money to get a tertiary education. But there’s no magic cash unicorn; for every dollar the government gives to students, someone else loses a dollar. In recent years, the pendulum has swung too far in favour of students, at the expense of working taxpayers. So the National Government has done the responsible thing and made some changes, despite knowing it would be unpopular with students. Before getting into the specific changes, it’s wor th noting that student allowances are bad policy no matter which side of the political spectrum you’re on. The rationale for the allowance is that people whose parents are poor should get extra money from the government since their parents can’t afford to top up their living costs. But although the allowance kids get a bit more per week, most of the advantage they get from the student allowance comes from not having to pay it back at the end. This makes no sense, as most graduates earn a good wage and can afford to pay back

what they borrowed, regardless of their parents’ income. Limiting the student allowance to 200 weeks (the equivalent of five years in the 38-week university system) is a good first step. Ideally, the system would be scrapped altogether in favour of allowing students to borrow more for living costs per week (living on $170 a week can be a stretch). Now for the student loan changes. Once you graduate, you’ll have to pay 12% instead of 10% of your income towards paying off your loan for any earnings over $19,084. Again, this is a good change. A lot of people don’t realise just how deep New Zealand is buried in overseas debt. As of the star t of 2012, NZ owes $84.5billion. After all the fuss over asset sales, they are expected to raise $6.2billion, which will help take a small chunk out of the mountain of overseas debt. Well, students owe $12billion. And now NZ will recoup this money a little faster. Of course, a better change would be to repeal the interestfree student loan system, which provides an economic incentive to pay back the loan as slowly as possible. It’s very easy to criticise governments for making the tough decisions to cut back on spending, but NZ can’t keep throwing money around where it isn’t needed. NZ students already get an incredibly sweet deal, with ¾ ¾ of course fees paid by the government, access to interest-free loans, and very lax university entrance requirements. We students will all benefit in the long run from the cost savings provided by the policy tweaks, when we graduate into a thriving, non-bankrupt economy.

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$10 Roast Night

Let us do the cooking for you, with the chef’s choice of yummy roast meat and veges. Cash Bar (R18)

Otago Polytechnic’s

Ozone Cafe Professional Catering Services

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Manaaki building on Harbour Terrace 5.30 pm - 7.00 pm Thursday (during term time)


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The

Uncomfortable

Nature of By Beau Murrah

Social

Activism

“Most people, most of the time, prefer to seek approval or security. This shouldn’t surprise us. Nonetheless, there are in all periods’ people who feel themselves in some fashion to be apart. And it is not so much to say that humanity is very much in debt to such people, whether it chooses to acknowledge that debt or not. It’s too much to expect to live in an age which is actually propitious for dissent.” – Christopher Hitchens

“We knew that what we were going to do was far “We knew that what we were going to do was far greater than any athletic feat. He said, “I“ll stand greater than any athletic feat. He said, ‘I’ll stand with with you“ . I expected seeinfear in Norman“ eyes. you’. I expected to seeto fear Norman’s eyes. Isdidn’t. I saw love.” I–didn“ t. I saw love.“John Carlos (speaking of Peter Norman) John Carlos (speaking of Peter Norman)

Norman could have been ‘popular’ and received ‘establishment’ approval. He could have been on the cover of cereal boxes. All he had to do was choose not to show up, not to make an appearance. No-one would have lambasted him. History would have pretty much forgotten about the medallist who didn’t stand alongside Tommie and John. But instead he decided to make a statement alongside these individuals, a stand that echoes as one of the most powerful images of the last century. The Sydney Olympics 200m gold medallist Michael Johnson told him quite simply “You are my hero” (this was at the 2000 Sydney Olympics where the American Olympic team invited Norman to events after they learned Australian authorities snubbed him).

When Peter Norman, the Australian 200m silver medallist, stood in solidarity with American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos as they made a black power salute at the 1968 Olympics, he chose to pay an enormous personal price. The repercussions for Norman were quick. He was seen as a malcontent who had helped desecrators of the Olympic flag by ‘politically’ advocating for the African American Civil Rights movement. The Australian establishment ostracized him. As a runner he was banned for two years from competing on return to Australia and snubbed from the 1972 Olympics. He was still ostracized in the year 2000 by Australian sports authorities involved with the Olympics in Sydney in 2000. Yet the cost to Norman of taking such a stand is in itself evidence and testament to the meaning and power of his actions. True dissidence is never a comfortable thing. If you really give a damn about changing anything in this world then you need to be ready for that: if what you are doing ‘feels good’ then you probably aren’t helping.

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Peter stayed close friends with Tommie Smith and John Carlos for life and they were pallbearers at his funeral in 2006. That’s a testament to humanity and standing with your brothers that’s far more important than ‘establishment’ approval and having your face on a cereal box.


ART CRITICISM: JAMES ROBINSON – RAINBOW SERPANT (PSYCHIC SKINS) By Loulou Callister-Baker and Charlotte Doyle

The structure and details of Rainbow Serpent (Psychic Skins) hints at a Colin McCahon assemblage which often delves into the gestural drip world of Jackson Pollock and the like. Covering an entire wall of the Dunedin School of Ar t, lit by only a few lights, it is a mystical and powerful piece. Walking into the exhibition space we were struck by its compelling size and composition with abstract expressionists such as Rober t Rauschenberg coming to mind. Countless pieces of decorated canvas are suspended in intricate layers stretching horizontally across the vast expanse of the gallery wall. There is

a striking balance of colour with Robinson managing to achieve a well-executed equilibrium between the light blues, deep purples and muddy browns. The lighting was also fantastic, accentuating the contours and shadows created by the piece. But the best par ts were still to come. At a distance the work appears somewhat solid and controlled. However a closer look reveals the intricate, hidden details. And it’s these details which make this work par ticularly interesting. The strips counter-act each other, hanging at skewed angles and cut at different lengths. Some strips have gaping holes, others with ladders of slits. The viewer is forced to investigate the piece. Peer into it. Figure out the hidden messages. Intentionally or not Robinson is tugging at the observer’s curiosity. Sticking your head between the layers to discover more quirky, pointed details literally envelops you in the work. Behind two or three layers of canvas lies the word ‘revelation’. Looking into a mirror you see an otherwise obscured tiny action figure. “You won’t fuck me with your devil denial” is scrawled in the grooves of the canvas edges. Perspective is given significant importance. This aspect of the work was successful. We

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wanted to learn more about what the piece has to offer, discover more about what the artist is trying to say. While the layers of skins that build up Robinson’s piece are intricate and fantastic worlds in themselves, there were several details that we felt distracted from the piece. On Robinson’s video tour of the work he states that he has not edited but constructed, letting everything he adds to the work settle into their own identities. This idea is interesting but in areas of the work where an object like a gold coin is stuck onto velvet for example, these little identities are shallow, only disrupting the surreal world into which other par ts of the work draws us. What may be evident here is either the ar tist’s fear that no one will understand the work without obvious symbolism as guidance, or Robinson lacks the encouragement to evaluate and edit. These smaller details can be forgiven. But what impacted our experience more was a construction of wood that protrudes from the centre of the work. This construction seems to take a vague shape of a person with two paua shells and coins stuck in the middle as eyes. From the bottom of this

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construction hangs a string which leads into a small collection of dust and shells shaped into the galaxy. Robinson’s narrative on process depicted by the psycho geography of twisted canvas is threatened by this extra addition. The structure is pulled forward almost convincing us not to look past it. What’s more the galaxy shape on the floor leads our eyes from the work into an insubstantial dead end, completely removing our attention from the work. While it seems that Robinson’s piece does seem to work best with an identifiable centre point, the wooden construction was not an ideal choice. However, the detail of the work was still extremely evocative. Through further developing his critical eye to refine the direction and construction of his work, Robinson’s art can only reach a new level of wonder.


*INK & gYRo Presents The LINE-UP Submissions for Dunedin Zinefest now open www.dunedinzinefest.org.nz

*ONGOING

Every Saturday & Sunday. Free guided tours of Angels & Aristocrats. 2pm. DUNEDIN PUBLIC ART GALLERY.

Monday 21st May. Audacious submissions due www.audacious.co.nz Tuesday 22nd-24th May. Two Fish ‘n’ a Scoop. various times: 22nd @ 6pm, 23rd & 24th @ 7.30pm. $40/$20. FORTUNE THEATRE.

Wednesday 23rd May til Saturday 26th. Seussical the Musical @ 6.45pm. $17.50/$12.50. MAYFAIR THEATRE.

*MAY Thursday 24th May. Thursday Gig Night @ ft Astro Children, Nanny State and TLA. 5-7pm. free. DUNEDIN PUBLIC LIBRARY.

Thursday 24th May. The Black Seeds - Dust & Dirt Album Release Tour. $36. SAMMYS.

Friday 25th May. Acoustic Session ft Kate Grace & Marcus Turner. 12pm. free. DUNEDIN PUBLIC LIBRARY.

Saturday 26th May. Dr Lisa Beaven, Lecturer in Art History, La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia discusses Renaissance & Baroque works in Angels & Aristocrats. 3pm. free. DUNEDIN PUBLIC ART GALLERY.

Sunday 27th May. Dr Cecilia Novero, Dept of Languages & Cultures, University of Otago discusses Surrealist aspects in Boys from the Black Stuff. 3pm. free. DUNEDIN PUBLIC ART GALLERY.

Saturday 2nd June. Left Or Right - Buzzy Album Release Tour. $20. SAMMYS.

Thursday 7th June. OPSA Cultural Food Festival. 12-1pm:

*JUNE

Saturday 23rd June. Flight Of The Conchords Tour of NZ$55 (pre-sales) REGENT THEATRE.

Late July.Glue Gallery Art Auction, a fundraiser to cover the existing costs of this awesome space! If you’re interested in helping out you can join Glue’s incorporated society, donate some art or become a friend of Glue and donate $5 a month to the Glue rent. Contact gluegallerygoo@gmail.com *JULY

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Gyro #7 Politics: Student Edition