AUT Uni Life

Why I vote the way I do

2017-09-20

OPINION

By Harris Dowson

The election is this weekend and after many ups and downs, slogging through debates, social media madness, and an almost constant media frenzy; we will finally get to see what who will lead our country into the future.

I’ve written a lot about this election, trying my best to remain unbiased, presenting the facts and pushing people to get enrolled and cast their votes. I want people to take part in this election, regardless of whether their beliefs align with my own. Voting for our future is something no one should sit out.

I’ve come to learn that no political perspective is foolproof, there is always another side to an argument and everyone has the right to their own opinion. This blog is my perspective and is in no way meant to belittle anyone’s political leanings or beliefs; but rather to explain why I vote the way I do. Hopefully, it’ll cause you to think and reflect on why you’re voting the way you are too.

I think there are many policies in New Zealand government that it makes sense to debate, many reasons why a person might like one party over another but I think there are some things that affect us that simply shouldn’t be up for debate.

Issues that as a society we should agree on, the basic rights of humanity, the things that shouldn’t be up for discussion.

Things like freedom of sexuality, equality of race and gender and that in our developed country, no family should be living in their cars or on the street.

I’ve lived an extremely privileged life, I’ve been very lucky to have been raised in an affluent suburb, with a private education and a childhood in which I’ve never had to want for anything. On top of this, I am also a straight, white male. I’m incredibly lucky and live in a society catered to me. I’ve never experienced prejudice, racism or been made to feel unwelcome in my own country. I’m incredibly lucky and I know this, which is why I vote to help those who aren’t.

I vote for the Green Party because I refuse to believe that poverty, homelessness and children dying from respiratory diseases because of moldy homes is something that is just part of the status quo. I personally believe that, regardless of a person’s political leanings, they too believe this. No one would want a person to live in poverty but it’s happening and we can’t face this problem having an out of sight, out of mind perspective.

In New Zealand, there are around 622,000 people living in poverty. That’s one in seven households. Around 230,000 of them are children. 622,000 people who don’t have access to proper housing, food or healthcare. People struggling with poverty need our help and we must do more to help them. The system that is in place now is one filled with flaws. Benefits aren’t enough for a family to live on and the resources to help those who desperately need it are stretched critically thin.

Living in poverty is aligned with much prejudice, most commonly that those who are struggling finically must have brought it on themselves. That if they wanted to, they could get work and climb out of the hole they are in.

This is bullshit and it’s systemically rooted in our system.

International research shows time and time again that beneficiaries want to work but lack of employment opportunities, health problems and commitments to caring for their families make it near impossible.

These people are struggling; despite their best efforts, to provide for their families and they need our help.

Now, I’m aware that there will always be a disparity between those with and those without. This is part of a capitalist system and I accept that, however it’s the size of this disparity that I simply cannot accept.

I vote Green because I’m doing ok, and I know that with one tick I can help others that aren’t.

Of course, there are myriad other reasons as to why I vote the way I do. Caring for New Zealand’s environment, climate change policy, swimmable rivers, public transport initiatives, increasing our refugee quota and Te Reo Maori in schools are all extremely important to me. However, it is the state of poverty in our country I feel is most important.

Surely this is something all New Zealanders can agree on. Surely?

I believe that New Zealanders have a history of looking out for each other, and no matter how much we disagree, at the end of the day we want the best for everyone. Perhaps I’m being ignorant but I think living with any other belief is utterly devastating.

I’m not going to tell you how to vote, that is a decision you have to make for yourself and the choice you make will be incredibly important.

I’ll will, however, repeat the words of a political sign I saw that has kept coming back to me over this campaign.

If you’re doing ok, vote to help someone who isn’t.

Student Politics and Remembering the Human

2017-09-19

By Tom Vasey

Over the past six years, I’ve seen the ugly face of students in politics across the board. Whether it’s the Evergreen College debacle, the National Union of Students in the UK seeing universities pulling out after the election of a president with anti-Semitic views, or the University of Missouri protests that resulted in a Professor of Communications being booted out for attempted forceful media suppression, there’s a lot of nastiness inherent in student politics worldwide. On the surface, this is understandable. After all, I said myself last week that we as students will ultimately have an effect upon the world we live in, and it’s never too late to start working towards change, but I feel that it’s important to talk about the potential consequences of our actions, too.

Why am I writing this? Well, the reasoning is twofold. First of all, it’s election season, both for AuSM and the New Zealand General Election. Now, whether you’re involved in this sort of thing or not, the latter is a pretty huge deal, as the policies that will affect everyone in this country will be decided upon by the parties with the most power, and even minor paradigm shifts may see the dynamics of parliament change. For that reason, yeah, you should totally go out and vote.

The second reason for this article was something I saw yesterday. When I picked up a student magazine and leafed through it, there was a two-page spread about the goals of a movement called Antifa, the worldwide anti-fascism movement. Having kept up with a lot of European and American news over the past couple of years, it was interesting to see something glorifying this movement in a magazine for students in New Zealand. Whatever this country’s flaws are, fascism certainly isn’t a huge deal here, but what concerns me is that this movement has consistently promoted and enacted property damage, assault, intimidation and other such delightful acts of destruction.

Here’s the thing; this movement comes from an understandable place. No one wants to be identified as hateful, nor should they. We all want to be good people at the end of the day, right? I’d be surprised if we didn’t all want to be good deep down, whatever the definition of good may mean to us personally.

The trouble is, Antifa, and many other political movements in this vein, are examples of good motives but terrible execution. There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest ones I can identify myself are dualistic thinking and a lack of leadership, so let’s touch on those.

Dualistic thinking is a big problem for a lot of people, but particularly for students in politics, I’ve noticed. What I mean by this is that there are many people who believe that there exist good guys and bad guys. Of course, we never see ourselves as bad guys, goodness knows. To quote my favourite author, Terry Pratchett (in Jingo):

"It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone's fault. If it was us, what did that make Me? After all, I'm one of Us. I must be. I've certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We're always one of Us. It's Them that do the bad things.”

Sadly, this is not an accurate viewpoint. If you look at the world in terms of pure good and evil, then you miss out on a lot of the nuance that exists, and it’s easy to dismiss and dehumanise your social and political opponents. This has happened to a significant degree over the last few years. If you don’t believe me, then what comes to mind when you hear the words Trump supporter?
Exactly.

Secondly, every major successful political movement has had the benefit of strong, capable leadership, allowing for organisation, a code of ethics that protestors are willing to follow, and cooperation with government authorities in order to keep protests and political movements legitimate. This sort of behaviour can let you sway moderates to your line of thinking, which is a big part of what made the US Civil Rights Movement so successful.

With many of these groups, and Antifa in particular, there is no leadership, or very weak leadership. In their case this has basis in the number of Anarcho-Communist members of the movement, but consequently it means that they are unable to define what is and isn’t the face of their movement. Without that, we have situations where the bike-lock attacks at UC Berkeley, the mass property destruction during the G20 riots in Hamburg, or picketing a massively outnumbered free-speech rally in Boston because CNN misreported the purpose of the rally. These are all as much the face of Antifa as any good they may be doing, which delegitimises the movement and drives moderates away. The truth is, this movement’s actions has rendered it equally morally bankrupt and hateful as those they claim to be fighting, leading to a situation in which it is difficult to justify Antifa or the alt-right.

In addition to taking a more nuanced view of the world and enacting decent leadership, in the wake of events such as Charlottesville, Boston, Berkeley, Missouri and other such protests and acts of violence, I want to give my own perspective about how we can change the world for the better. It’s going to sound like an after-school special, but I truly believe in this approach.

Quite simply, make kindness the order of the day. Be friendly towards people, be willing to hear opinions that conflict with your own, and be willing to speak your own mind, while respecting your fellow humans. Do something humanitarian, maybe even just once a year (if you’re not big on humans then the SPCA always needs volunteers). Be kind to others and remember that we are more alike than different. If everyone did this, instead of taking militant political stands, then the world would be a better place, and hateful dualistic groups would be seen for the ridiculous people they are. Through love, not blind hate, we will make the world a better place. It’s just a shame that we live in a time where it’s so difficult to see that.

Your vote is important

2017-09-15

By Harris Dowson

The election and our opportunity to choose the future of our country is now less than two weeks away. You may think that “choosing the future of the country” with only a single vote might be going a little overboard but the reality is; that for us youth voters, our vote holds a lot of power. Youth voters usually have a pretty low turnout on polling day but still the votes of the younger generation cause political parties to scramble about, using bad memes, outdated music and generally poor attempts at relating to youth culture to secure them. So why put in all that often embarrassing effort if those votes don’t get cast on polling day?

Well it’s because those votes have the power to change the election. The youth vote (18-24 years) equates to the second largest age demographic of voters. 460,890 of us are eligible to vote, which out of the eligible 3,569,830 of the New Zealand population is no small number. However, less than two weeks out, over 150,000 of us are still yet to enrol. You may think, over 300,000 enrolled is still solid; which I suppose it is, but enrolment doesn’t guarantee a vote come the 23rd. In the 2014 election, 338,269 of us youth voters were enrolled and only 212,204 turned out on the day to cast their vote. This time around however, we’re already doing much better with youth enrolment and engagement up by 38,000 since last time. However, without youth voters actually turning up on voting day to cast an informed vote, all those new enrolments won’t mean anything.

I can understand how many young voters don’t see how one vote can make a difference – last election over 100,000 enrolled youth voters didn’t vote as they most likely thought their one vote wouldn’t change anything. In reality, 100,000 votes could have drastically changed the end result in 2014.

At the end of the day, your vote is important, no matter what you or anyone else may think. Your vote is your ability to have your say on what you want the future New Zealand to look like. Although it’s hard to look ahead sometimes, especially when the problems of the today dominate your life. This is totally understandable but the problems youth voters and AUT students face today are still incredibly relevant to this election.

If you drive a car, use public transport, care about our environment, are renting, struggling to live on a student allowance or have a student loan then you need to cast a vote in this election.

Every vote come the 23rd is important but it might be that the youth votes 24-year-olds important. We 18 to 24 year olds have a very real ability to influence the outcome of the election.  So get enrolled, if you haven’t, and if you have, pester someone who hasn’t. The future of our country will be decided on the 23rd, make sure you have your say about what kind of country you want that to be.

GET ENROLED

Suicide Awareness

2017-09-15

By Shannel Milne

September is suicide awareness month and September 10is World Suicide Prevention Day. Although there is an entire month dedicated to suicide prevention the issue is constant. People struggle every single day and only a few speak out, but so many people don't. Recently I have come across multiple pictures of people laying out shoes all across New Zealand to represent lives lost to suicide in the past two years. A number of shoes in each picture is truly heartbreaking. The idea is a beautiful representation of each person, you can tell a lot about someone by the shoes they wear and it brings heart to an issue that is usually portrayed as a statistic when reported in the news. Each pair of shoes had an owner, a life and a struggle. And by using shoes it shows that suicide affects people from every walk of life. From trainers to high heels to boots, small and large in size, demons don’t discriminate.

For so many years struggling and suicide has been romanticized in movies and media and even considered a 'phase', and has become almost comical and people find it easy to joke about. Too easy. Something this serious shouldn't be joked about and ignored to the point that people can't ask for help. Suicide is not Millennials being dramatic. Suicide affects everyone.

Logic and Alessa Cara performed a song called 1-800-273-8255 at the VMA's, the title of the song is a suicide help line. Kesha also gave a speech encouraging people to speak out and seek the help that they need. It's steps like these and the laying out of shoes that is slowly breaking down the stigma around mental health.

Suicide is a silent killer and most people don’t realise that their friends, family or acquaintances are struggling until it's too late.

So please speak out and ask for help. Whether you call a hotline, speak to a counsellor or tell a friend, whatever works for you. There is help out there, you just need to speak out.

Here is a list of numbers to call:

Lifeline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 354

Depression Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 111 757

Healthline (open 24/7) - 0800 611 116

Samaritans (open 24/7) - 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.

Open-mindedness

2017-09-07

By Tom Vasey

It struck me recently that we really are living in a world that’s changing pretty rapidly. It’s kind of difficult to reconcile with human nature since as a species we’re pretty big on finding patterns where we can. That makes it easy for us to slip into a mindset that keeps us from accepting new information quite as easily. We’re living in a time when cultural impulses, technology, values, and politics are evolving and changing too quickly for us to reliably do that, especially in more powerful or tumultuous parts of the world.

I guess the reason I’m writing this is because every day I am exposed to a lot of people with minds that are shut tight (an occupational hazard of spending time online instead of making real friends). That, and it’s really impossible to imagine what technology and society will be like ten, twenty or thirty years from now. I mean, if you think about it, we’ve come a pretty long way. Now we live in an age where Google and Microsoft and Facebook are building AIs, smartphones can do more stuff than we ever thought possible, and everyone’s fighting each other in Europe and the USA over political silliness as if the world isn’t going to leave us all in the dust.

Maybe it’s my love of retrofuturism (seriously, how can you not love this?) or my recent interest in cyberpunk fiction, but I guess I’ve twigged onto the reality that the world isn’t going to stay as it is, and it’s not going to develop the way we think it will, either. If we had clairvoyance, maybe the lottery wouldn’t have jackpotted again this week.

What probably twigged me onto this line of thinking most, though, is the whole “University for the changing world” tagline that AUT uses. To a great extent, it is. One of the great things about AUT being so young is that it isn’t subject to the same inflexibility that hampers older universities, which allows it to be dynamic (and it’ll hopefully remain so, well into the future). The only issue is that that should also be a major lesson we learn as students here, too. As students, we’re a big part of the future, and our time at university is meant to prepare us for being part of that future. Some of the stuff we’re taught is only current knowledge or even outdated, but it serves to provide a foundation upon which we can build new knowledge, allowing us to adapt with the times.

However, the only way this can possibly work is if we allow it to. I’m not going to accuse people of not being open-minded, because that wouldn’t be fair and it wouldn’t be applicable here in all honesty. There are so many places in the world where the ability to think dynamically and openly is quashed, and other places (such as the aforementioned Europe and USA examples) where the stereotype of a college student is that of an infantilised creature that is desperate for validation rather than knowledge, using university as a means to put off real life for a few more years. If that’s the angle you want to look at it from, then by all means do, but I think a lot about how we can be prepared for the world yet to come.

The truth is, there really isn’t a hard-and-fast rule for predicting what the future will be like. We can’t reliably extrapolate data that well yet, and what we find super important in 2017 might not be super important in 2030, 2025, or even 2018. I mean, reflect upon the last three years or so, or even last year. Consider just how much has changed, and then imagine what’ll be different tomorrow.

That’s why we’ve got to keep our minds and our hearts open, as students. In fact, because we’re students, it’s vital that we do that. The world’s really bad at staying consistent a lot of the time, which is something of an inconvenient truth, and we’re going to be encountering the challenges of tomorrow, which means we’re going to be using the tools of tomorrow. While it’s fine to just get the grade, earn your expensive piece of paper and move into the workforce, the truth is that the only way we can have access to the tools of tomorrow is to embrace the knowledge of today and be dynamic thinkers.

What does that mean, though? Well, it means that nothing is necessarily sacrosanct. Going into university with the understanding that you don’t know everything, and that’s okay. Questioning everything is a virtue, but it requires you to question your own preconceptions and ideas, too. Remembering, too, that you’re never too old to learn something new, is more virtuous still. The idea of learning being a lifelong trip is pretty amazing and says a lot about what we are capable of as humans.

The world is an exciting place, and in spite of the ills that people are experiencing right now, the future is an incredibly fluid thing, which means that we must be, too. At the very least, we mustn’t be inflexible, because it’ll be our responsibility to carry the torch someday, in whatever capacity we choose.

So question the ideas you were brought up with, the things you believe to be true, even if in questioning them you come to accept them even more. Not everyone who comes through here will change the world to the same extent – I’m not saying that we’re all Elon Musks waiting to happen – but I believe that this flexibility will make us better, stronger, more questioning people, and that’s got value beyond just money (though people totally pay a lot of cash for creative or dynamic thinkers).

Thanks guys. I hope you have a lovely week!

Griffiths Garden

2017-08-30

By Shannel Milne

"Your inner city backyard!"

I live outside of the city so multiple times a week I travel back and forth for work and uni. And as I am a poor student, I use the bus. I take the same route every time. Recently I have started to notice a community centre/garden located just up from Queen Street. It's called Griffiths Garden. The area is decked out with picnic tables, a small garden, and seesaws. And it is always busy! Just the other day as my bus had stopped at the traffic lights a man ran over and gave the bus driver a container of food. This random act of kindness made both my and the driver’s day. Griffiths Garden always does food drives for anyone who is hungry. I think this is SO important with Auckland's population of homeless people. The fact that Griffiths Garden is run by the community gives me hope for humanity.  Griffiths Garden can be used by anyone for activities and small functions and it’s in the heart of the city!

Griffiths Garden is a biology teaching hub that offers classes on how to make Auckland a safe city for bees, the vision was created by Sarah Smuts-Kennedy called "For the love of Bees". So if you love gardening and getting your hands dirty, or want to help out and learn a little then head over.

I can't say it enough but I love love looooove the idea of Griffiths Garden. It's the best part of my bus trip into the city.

Here are some pictures:

Up in the air?

2017-08-29

By Harris Dowson

Only a month is left before New Zealand goes to the polls to decide on the future leadership of our country. For many however, the question of who they’ll end up casting their vote for is still up in the air.

Political debates have already begun, with Maori television kicking them off on 22 August. A myriad of debates across the political spectrum and the ever important leader debates are all set to air over the coming weeks (times of which can be found here). These will certainly help the undecided voter but a few hours of debating isn’t a long time to truly understand the parties as a whole. In our lives too, appointment viewing isn’t always easy so while helpful, debates aren’t always the best way to go.

This is why I think the best way to figure out where you lean politically is with the range of new and handy decision tools that have popped up over the last few weeks. If you haven’t seen them, a collection of websites have been developed over the past few weeks, with the help of political analysts and statisticians, that offer varying styles of questions and policy messages. These tools help show how your views and beliefs relate to each individual party and can be a major help to those who are undecided.

On the Fence

This tools works by offering you questions relating to a range of policies relevant to New Zealand, letting you move a slider to choose which way you lean. The best thing about this website is that you don’t need to pick a definitive side, politics is complicated and a definitive answer isn’t always available. You may feel slightly strong about one issue, so you can put yourself 65% towards and 45% against, allowing for a more balanced perspective of who you align best with.

Isidewith

Isidewith works by offering yes or no stances to questions across the political spectrum. From areas such as housing, national security, environment, etc. Isidewith; much like On the Fence, understands that a lot of these questions are much more nuanced than a simple yes or no answer, so offers a third bracket: other stances. The third bracket brings up a range of more detailed perspectives that New Zealanders have had surrounding this issue. It even has an option for you to fill out your own individual perspective, which too is added to the list of other stances to choose from.

Vote Compass

TVNZ’s election tool works on a Likert scale method of A-D, strongly disagree to strongly agree. Vote Compass has the same policy focus as other websites but also looks into party preferences and how you perceive them. From how likely you would be to vote for leaders along to your likeliness of voting for specific parties. This is good because it mixes the policy and perception of politics into one bag and offers you an overall perspective of who suits you most, along with how others in your area are feeling.

Policy

The spinoff’s version of helpful decision maker, lets you focus on what you specifically want this election to be about. The options here are all encompassing, policy, housing, environment, etc. You are then able to view all of the parties’ policies that relate to your focus, letting you save the policies into a ‘best of’ bag. You can go into your bag at any point, see how the policies you chose best even out, and align yourself to a party.

These tools are all really helpful but watching debates, news and social media feeds can be just as helpful come making an election day decision. Worst case scenario, if you’re really struggling to decide you could always just throw a party.

After graduation

2017-08-29

By Shannel Milne

What’s your plan for after graduation?

I am in my last semester of university before I finally get to graduate. Usually, the idea of graduating gets me really excited. Now I feel pure terror. How can I go from one extreme to another you ask? Well, recently people have been asking me what my plans are after I graduate. Isn't that the million dollar question. The answer? I have absolutely no idea. My end goal has always been to graduate. I haven't thought far enough ahead as to what happens after I reach that goal! Do I suddenly become an author overnight? Smash out a best selling book. I've been studying creative writing for three years so I should be able to do that, right? Or maybe even a screenplay... Do I go for something more realistic like interning at a publishing house? Where do I even start?!

When I first started university, I felt completely comfortable with the idea that I had three years to decide what direction I wanted to take my life. Now I have less than nine weeks and I have no idea what I'm doing and how I managed to waste the past two and a half years of my life. WHAT WAS I EVEN DOING? How can someone be at uni for three years and still not know what they want to do with their life? My degree is pretty open-ended which is why I like it. There isn't one specific path to take. But now I have so many options that I don't even know what they are. And even if I did have something in mind that I wanted to do I'm not sure if I'd even know how to go about getting into that job. I have always envied my fellow classmates that were graduating, posting pictures of the big day. Their lives beginning. Now I envy the freshers who have years ahead of them. Don't get me wrong I am so excited to go to the graduation ceremony. The whole dressing up in cap and gown and getting a physical copy of my degree is exhilarating. But once the afterglow of graduating fades, what am I going to do?

So now I'm locked in an internal war with myself: pick a career or go on a gap year. Of course, I'm leaning more towards the gap year idea because after three years of studying I feel like I deserve a break. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to traveling, a Contiki tour sounds EXTREMELY appealing right now.

Wish me luck on trying to figure my life out!

Make sure you get paid for your work

2017-08-25

By Tom Vasey

As a student, there’s a lot of stuff to juggle. Making sure that Studylink is holding up its end of the bargain, scholarship requirements, making sure your grades are still up to par, nightlife…heck, if you’re really lucky, you can generally even find a short while to sleep in between all of that nonsense. Now, like a BP executive looking at Deepwater Horizon, I’m going to add to the problem. Unlike a BP executive looking at Deepwater Horizon, however, there’s an altruistic motive behind it.

The reason I’m writing this particular blog post today is because I recently looked at my bank balance, and immediately went to DEFCON II. In short, I haven’t been paid for my work. Now, it bears mentioning that I’m not referring to the work I do here – I actually work several jobs on a purely casual basis, which means that I cannot always rely on getting shifts. This is kind of my only consistent shtick. However, this other job – and I will leave the employer’s name anonymous for liability reasons – decided it’d be a jolly fun prank to not pay me for several concurrent shifts. Oh, how we all laughed together.

Yeah, I’m not laughing. There’s nothing funny about carefully budgeting for something, then looking and realising that you’re hundreds of dollars poorer than you thought you were. That is how you get a pretty major sense of humour failure.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can, and should, do. You have options, the first of which is to drink a nice cup of tea to calm your nerves. Perhaps go for a little walk, but then get in there and get talking. Getting in touch with your manager/team leader/whatever is a good first step if you find you haven’t been paid, and I’m going to tell you exactly how to phrase this, because not a lot of people do this properly even though it’s a very common-sense affair.

You see, you might be fuming, or foaming at the mouth, or there might be steam shooting out of your ears and you might be just about ready to explode. That’s natural. Basically, you’ve been messed around. Your employer’s broken a trust agreement with you and failed to pay you money that you earned for your own hard work. Who wouldn’t be furious after all of that? I know I was…or am.

Still, while it’s okay to be frustrated, a lot of how this situation will go depends on how that frustration manifests. If you bellow with rage at the first person who picks up the phone, then odds are you’ve just made someone else’s day worse, and they’ve probably got very little interest in helping you even if they could only refer you to someone higher up the ladder. Stay polite, keep it together, and remember that even if you’ve been thoroughly messed around, the person you are talking to may not necessarily be privy to what’s going on, and they’re probably going to try to help. “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you” is usually qualified by a “but I know someone who can” if you’re particularly polite, especially if you’re dealing with someone who works customer service or in a complaints department. People who treat them like human beings are pretty rare, so it’s a special treat when someone’s courteous and understanding, and sometimes they’ll go the extra mile for a person like that. Or you can be nice to them because it’s the right thing to do. Whatever floats your boat, really.

Anyway, so that’s one way to sort it out. Another way is to get in contact with the AuSM Advocacy team here at AUT, and seek advice on how to deal with the problem. You can usually get some good help and it’ll be resolved in a jiffy, which is particularly nice, especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford for someone else to drop the ball.

As far as preventative measures go, I recommend holding onto a copy of any contract you signed (and do get one, especially if you are going to be relying on this work. It’s as much to protect you as it is to protect them). Remember, too, that you don’t have to be a lawyer to read up on employee protection laws. Don’t go straight in like some sovereign citizen who thinks they understand how law and jurisdiction work, but if you see something that’s mentioned in the legislation that doesn’t reflect how you’re being treated at work, then it’s okay to seek legal advice to see if there’s really a breach going on.

That brings me to my next thing, and the biggest. If all else fails, seek legal advice. If it’s a small amount of money (under $2000, I believe), then you can challenge your employer in the Small Claims Court for it, and that won’t cost you a penny. Either way, always run everything past someone qualified, preferably someone who doesn’t have a conflict of interest.

Be smart, and take care of yourself, because one big reality is that there exist people who will mess you around, intentionally or unintentionally. In both cases, it’s important to be able to stand up and say “Hey, that’s not okay and I want it resolved”, because no one else is necessarily going to stand up for you. Even if you’re non-confrontational, it’s possible to sort this sort of thing out without having to really confront anyone in most cases, and it’s possible to have arbiters in place, too.

Be safe, be kind to yourself, and be kind to others. These principles should see you go far.

Take care guys.

Get enrolled and have your voice heard!

2017-08-24

By Harris Dowson

We’re only four weeks away from election time and while we’re caught up in the media storm of Jacinda-mania, Meteria resigning and the Todd Barclay scandal resurfacing it’s easy to forget about the most important thing.

It’s not choosing who to vote for (although that is important), it’s making sure you’re registered to vote; along with knowing how and where to do so. Without registering, you won’t be able to cast your vote and have your voice heard, it’s as simple as that. It’s imperative that you get registered and if you can get it done by the end of August,it’ll be easy as. Once it’s done and you’ve filled out the one page required, you won’t have to think about it again until it comes time to vote.

For many of us AUT student’s this may be our first election we vote in, or as is often the case with Auckland student life, you may have moved flats since the last time you voted. It’s also possible you didn’t see the importance of voting last election so never got registered in the first place. All of these are common realities for us students but putting in the minimal effort to get registered is really something worth doing.

The other important thing to do after you’ve registered is to figure out how and where you’ll vote. This may seem obvious as voting booths are commonplace across all of New Zealand, but for us students; whom work weekends, finding the time and place to vote isn’t always easy.

Just the other day I’d realised that I had both moved house since the last election while also realising that I won’t be in my electorate come voting day. Seeing how simply it happened to me I thought I’d put together a quick list of info on how to get registered and also how to go about voting when September 23 rolls around.

Young people have a shockingly poor history of getting enrolled; in my electorate alone only 60% of people aged 18 to 24 are registered. So go on and buck the trend, get registered to vote and have your voice heard.

Getting Registered:

This is truly the most important thing to do and I can’t labour this point enough, luckily getting yourself registered is quick and easy.

Online:

You can enrol entirely online if you have a Real ME account or you can apply for forms to be posted to you free of charge. Simply fill out the one page and send it back and you’ll be sorted.

Post shops:

You can visit any post shops and fill out the one-page enrolment form and give it directly to them.

Text:

You can Free Text 3637 your name and address to receive an enrolment form in the mail. Simply fill out and post back free of charge and you’re set

Sorting out where and when to vote:

As I said before, for the most part, this won’t be a problem for the majority but knowing the options beforehand could save you some voting day stress and make casting your vote easy.

Poll booths:

The easiest and most effective way to vote on Election Day. Voting booths will be in a range of places in your electorate. These’ll usually be in community buildings like schools, churches, town halls or libraries. These are often signposted on main roads but specific location info will come with your easy vote pack; which you’ll receive prior to Election Day.

Early voting:

If you can’t make it to a voting booth on the day for whatever reason, you can vote up to two and a half weeks before September 23rd. Info on how to do so can be found here.

Voting outside of your electorate:

If you’re still in the country but not near your home, you don’t have to vote early, you can still visit any voting booth location and simply tell them you are casting a special vote. You don’t have to do anything special — just tell the person at the voting place that you’re voting outside your electorate.

Overseas on Election Day:

If you’re overseas, come election day, there are still multiple ways to cast your vote. You can vote early before you leave, apply for a postal vote or vote at an overseas post — the Electoral Commission will have a list of these before Election Day. All the info you need can be found here.

Helping hand:

If you need help to read or mark your voting paper, a friend, family member or electoral official at the voting place can help. Simply ask when you go to vote.

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