Students want more cash to save Massive

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 28/02/2014

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If a small slice of the millions of dollars spent by Massey University on student services was put towards helping news magazine Massive it could stay afloat, student leaders say.

Massey's four student associations - Palmerston North, Wellington, Albany and extramural students - announced last week their monthly magazine was stopping its print publications because of funding difficulties.

Massey Wellington Students' Association (MAWSA), the primary owner of Massive, was unable to continue covering the $250,000-plus operational costs with the $108,000 grant from the university, but had asked for help.

Massey spokesman James Gardiner said the university was unable to support the student association because it had overspent, forecasted budgets wrong and was unable to get the appropriate amount of advertising revenue to become self-sustaining.

MAWSA president Todd Williamson said the university was unwilling to negotiate.

He suggested money could be redistributed from Massey's student levy collection to help.

Massey collected $8 million from student levies in 2012 - $1.5m was given to student associations for service-level agreements.

Massey gives a $300,000 media grant, of which $108,000 was put to MAWSA to run Massive.

In comparison the university spends $2.5m of student levies on providing "pastoral care" for students, which includes spiritual support, helping international students, leadership and transitional programmes.

Mr Gardiner said student service levies could be used for multiple things and pastoral care was a higher priority.

He cited a student survey run by Massey during the end of year exam period last year where only 20 per cent of 1500-plus students who responded from Massey's 35,000 student body said they read Massive.

Massey could consider moving money from elsewhere to bolster the media grant, but had not because an agreement for this year with the associations for student-to-student media was still under discussion, Mr Gardiner said.

"Anything's a possibility . . . we would have to find the money somewhere else in the budget."

Mr Williamson said the survey had never been made available but was cited to student associations as a rationale for External Relations' approach to student media.

"That is a classic straw man argument - it's not a matter of either/or between pastoral care and student media; the university is obligated under the ministerial directive to make provision for both," he said.

"Students should be consulted on how this money is being spent, and the university's attempts to do this have been grossly inadequate."

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- Manawatu Standard

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