New president has plans for change
She has a tough act to follow, but the woman now tasked with leading UCOL students through a tumultuous time for their association is raring to act on some of her grand plans.
Miranda Orpin was voted in as acting president of the Universal College of Learning's student association AS@U at the organisation's annual meeting yesterday.
Vice-president at the beginning of the year, Orpin stepped in when president Danny Goodman, whose given name is Darryl Anthony Newport, resigned after admitting fabricating an "elaborate" story about his past.
Goodman detailed his made-up past in a Manawatu Standard profile piece in February, claiming 15 years' experience with the New South Wales police and the New York Police Department.
When confronted, Goodman admitted he lied, saying it was to deal with low self-esteem issues.
Orpin said it had been a stressful few months for the organisation but things were beginning to even out.
"It made us quite vulnerable for a bit there. There was a lot of tension and worrying about things that might come to pass but those haven't eventuated, which is positive."
Orpin was raised in Marton, educated in Whanganui and did part of a Victoria University international relations degree in Wellington before a shift to Palmerston North saw her complete a Diploma in Beauty Therapy at UCOL.
Her goals for the year as acting president include a rebranding of the organisation "because no-one really knows or understands what AS@U means".
Another thing she is keen to push is a sale of the organisation's Queen St headquarters, the Green House, because to keep paying rates and maintenance on it under voluntary student membership is seen as unsustainable. A sale of the bright and iconic, but run-down and uninsulated, two-storey building, which was built in the early 1900s and has a capital value of $295,000, would depend on persuading students this was necessary, she said.
For now Orpin is establishing ties with the Massey University Students' Association and wants to see more students through her association's door, wherever that door may be. "The thing I have found is that if students are bitching about something, we can probably help them with it."