This was submitted to Nexus at Waikato University, for the Crime issue.

Nexus decided not to use it, oh well, too bad, here it is anyway.
2016 is a big year in my timeline, because the recently defunct TIB campaign has had a new lease of life.

I’m that occasionally grumpy woman some of you may have seen around campus last year, wearing an oversize black hoody with a bunch of text in white on the back of it, and “Thursdays in Black, demanding a world without rape and violence” in a small logo on the front.

When I first arrived on Waikato campus from Wellington, I was used to wearing my TIB hoody (or a t-shirt in summer) every Thursday, and thinking nothing of it – but in Hamilton, it was something that got me comments from strangers, who had literally never seen one before.

That was when I realised that the disappearance of the WRO position from WSU exec about a decade ago had meant that TIB had also vanished; around seven years earlier than the campaign folded in Wellington during the NZUSA presidency of Max Hardy, in 2011 (update: He says it was still going then, with help from NWRO Caitlyn Dunham. I stand corrected.) 

But there was definitely no merch by the end of trimester two, 2012. I knew when I moved up here that the stock of TIB merchandise at VUWSA had vanished (I had tried to buy another t-shirt before I left town), but it wasn’t until I looked up the NZUSA website in preparation for this story that I realised the campaign had been folded nationwide.

Backtracking a little: what is TIB, and where did it come from?

Thursdays in Black is coordinated by Tertiary Women NZ, a branch of NZUSA, and seeks to transform the policies, practices, and culture that perpetuate and normalise sexual violence. A little of the backstory has been told in launch events around campuses – Craccum, Salient, and the Otago Daily Times have all run stories during O-Week 2016 for the re-launch – basically, it began during an upswing in radical feminist activity that saw campus women’s groups re-started after a post-’70’s slump. Jan Logie was an early mover of the concept of a campus-backed rape crisis service, and Thursdays in Black was born.

The name harks back even earlier, referencing the ‘Mothers of the Disappeared’, women who paraded in the Plaza del Maya demanding information about the whereabouts of their missing family members, wearing black in mourning and anger. This was in Latin America during the 80’s, a very dangerous time for political dissenters in Argentina, Chile, and Mexico.

By 2001, there was a regular presence on many campuses around NZ, with sales of t-shirts, singlet tops, hoodies, long-sleeved tees, and eventually even trucker caps making an appearance. Lunchtime stalls on Thursdays and O-week promotions kept women’s group members busy in term-time. My own personal involvement in the campaign in Wellington included at various times writing about what TIB means. 


In the past, merchandise was sold to help fund Wellington Independant Rape Crisis (WIRC), since around the mid-90’s; each campus around the country chose where they put the funds raised from TIB, so in other areas, survivor support NGO’s were assisted as available.

There were also gigs to support TIB, run as fundraisers during Women’s Festivals on campus, featuring among others Plum Green (goth/folk singer) & Anika Moa in 2006. That was also the year the White Ribbon campaign hit NZ, with a joint TIB/White Ribbon campaign event at the Southern Cross Tavern in Te Aro, Wellington, raising funds for WIRC.

White Ribbon was later picked up by Police National HQ under Commissioner Howard Broad, during the ‘damage control’ phase after the trial of then Assistant Police Commissioner Clint Rickards and his mates, former police officers Shipton and Schollum, for historical charges relating to rapes endured by Louise Nicholas. Rickards, Shipton & Schollum were acquitted; not so their colleague John Dewar, the investigating officer who was convicted of perjury and perverting the course of justice later that same year, 2007. Shipton and Schollum were already convicted and serving time for another, more violent and brutal rape at Mt Maunganui, a fact of which the jury acquitting them was unaware.

TIB campaign was very popular in the wake of both the acquittals and the later conviction, as the public at large began to be aware of historical cases coming into the Rape Crisis networks all over NZ. Many women came forwards for the first time to disclose historical assaults, triggered by the media publicity surrounding the trial in Auckland.

Police attitudes have shifted markedly since that time – Louisa Nicholas now gives seminars and lectures at the NZ Police College, and has assisted production of guidelines for interviewing sexual assault victims, so that vital evidence is not lost by inept interviewing procedures.

The other big change in survivor support has been the acknowledgment of the extent to which men have been abused, either as children or adults, in contexts where rape has been used to control or coerce, such as prisons or long-stay mental health institutions. In the Waikato, Tokaanui Hospital in Te Awamutu was a site of child and youth mental health long-stay care, and stories are now being validated about abuse of minors in that facility by orderlies. There is an increased need for community services that help those who were not acknowledged as rape victims in the past, to enable them to come forwards and be supported. Some survivor support services were predicated around being ‘women only spaces’, and this is being complemented by services that cater to men and boys, either in the same service provider or through a separate service.

Thursdays in Black has a place in this journey to healing; firstly by simply bringing rape out into the open, by acknowledging the 1 in 4 women who will experience sexual assault at some point in their lives, and the approximately 1 in 7 men, and seeing this as a symptom of a society that has not historically given consent a high priority in our understanding of sexual relationships. It’s too easy to point to alcohol, to say it wouldn’t have happened if one or other was not drunk or drugged at the time, out on the town. The reality is that we have a rape culture, an acceptance that ‘boys will be boys’, and that women are seductive, flirty, encouraging attention, so “what’s the problem?” Getting beyond that rape culture was the point of ‘Slutwalk’ in 2012, challenging the victim-blaming narratives and placing blame and responsibility for their actions squarely on the shoulders of the rapists.

For every guy who says #notallmen there are women asking for consent to be discussed, and the various myths around how rape happens to be debunked.

Rapists target women they happen to find – it’s a predatory thing, not a woman ‘asking for it’ because she was walking around town, to the shops, going for a drink with mates, wearing a pretty dress on a night out.

We need, as a society, to get over this idea that men are ‘uncontrollable’ in the sight of a pretty woman; it’s just not a thing guys, so if you are tired of women being all defensive about this, then get used to saying to that one guy you know who is a bit of a dick when you’re out, “hey bro, she’s not interested, leave her alone”, when he pesters the living daylight a out of some intimidated young woman.

Since 2009 the National Government has reduced funding available to NGO’s dealing with Domestice Violence (DV) or survivor support groups like Rape Crisis, Women’s Refuge & Te Whare Rokiroki – so for many of these peer-to-peer support groups, staff have been reduced, or services limited to only a few days a week.

The latest Budget in May 2016 has further reduced funding to Women’s Refuge, Rape Crisis and others, including the nascent Men’s Refuge developments, which have not got off the ground due to funding challenges.

New agencies have sprung up – Aviva is one such – in response to the changing funding environment.

In Hamilton, SAATS is the first responder (Sexual Assault Assessment Treatments Services), based in Anglesea Clinic in the CBD, and they liase closely with the Police, as well as running a 24-hour phoneline on 07 858 0800

This year, TIB merchandise is available  via NZUSA’s Thursdays in Black TradeMe page, and you will see students wearing these shirts on campuses all around the country. (So far, t-shirts in men’s and women’s sizes, made with organic non-toxic dye, printed in Wellington on fair trade certified t-shirts, text available in English or Te Reo.)


“Thursdays in Black Aotearoa” on FB and @ThursInBlackNZ on Instagram and Twitter post images from the campaign, and crowd-sourced selfies every week.

Tertiary Women NZ contacts: Izzy O’Neill, current National Women’s Rights Officer, nwro@students.org.nz

There’s a FB page, NZUSA Tertiary Women’s Focus Group, they tweet @_TWFG and can be found on http://www.students.org.nz/twfg

#TIB selfies can be posted to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to show your support for students’ right to safe campuses in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Check out Thursdays in Black , on Facebook here , or the merch On TradeMe here .

I went along to the Hamilton NZEI Stand up for Kids – Protect Our Schools rally & march yesterday, thinking it was the least I could do for the teachers who have educated my children, many of whom are still teaching at the same levels, long after my offspring have left their care.

I had the impression that Hamiltonians were not very ‘protesty’ people, and that the teachers might need every radical education policy lefty activist in the region to show up.

When I arrived at the rallying point, there was a huge crew of NZEI marshalls in yellow vests, handing out chant sheets and lovely round purple and red (double-sided) posters for marchers to hold.

They were surrounded by teachers, parents and children, and such a huge collection of banners from schools around the region, along with hand-made signs carried by resourceful marchers and children.
I caught up with a few local Greenies from the Hamilton Branch & the Campus Greens, and managed a short chat with Cath Delahunty before we all set off. Thanks to a young local friend, I have an estimate of around 400 people marching, which I was informed was a very good turnout for Hamilton; dire descriptions of events where the turnout totaled 20 brave bodies followed.

After about a fifteen minute walk, the crowd arrived at Steele Park in Hamilton East, where a stage-truck was set to provide sound amplification for the speakers, and an avid crew of NZEI volunteers sizzled sausages for hungry marchers. Credit was given to Anglican Action for providing the consumables to run the sausage sizzle.
There was much singing and chanting along the way; as you’d expect of teachers, there were very clearly written chant sheets, and a song sheet with waiata and karakia which were used at various points during the proceedings. Local kaumatua were on hand to lead those parts, and give a blessing to the efforts of the marchers.

Speakers included Professor Martin Thrupp, from Waikato University’s Faculty of Education, who spoke about his research into the dreaded National Standards which has pretty much been ignored by the Minister, along with a statement signed by 150 academics in the field of education research – a major feat in itself – which was sent to the Minister.
Green MP Cath Delahunty spoke, exhorting the crowd to ‘vote the Government out’ at the next elections if they want to see their schools maintained at the level of excellence that current standards allow. There was discussion of the effects of the ‘Charter Schools’ policies favoured by the Minister, and a general desire to retain trained, qualified teachers in our education system was expressed both in her speech and on placards held by marchers.
Labour MP Sue Maroney echoed Cath’s call to ‘vote them out’ and said to teachers, encourage parents at your schools to enroll and vote, it’s the strongest message parents can send to the Government.
Anglican Action’s director Karen Morrison-Hume spoke last, praising teachers who are at the pointy end of social welfare, funding breakfasts and even lunches in our decile 1 & 2 schools so that children living in poverty-stricken homes can have at least some chance of learning. She spoke of the parlous situation of charities, who have had donation cuts from big businesses who are less able in the current economic climate to donate food for social programs – alleviation of social distress that should be covered by MSD/WINZ, not teachers or supermarket owners with a conscience.

Coverage of marches around the country was spotty, although I’ve had these media reports brought to my attention (thanks, FB friends …) in Chrischurch, Auckland, and Wellington.

There may be pictures later, sorry folks my capacity for uploading the ones I took is limited; I’m borrowing a camera I don’t know quite how to sync with my desktop system (yet). There’s a work-around, but it’s cumbersome.
Guess I need some intensive re-education as well!

Students have had a hard time over summer. I arrived in Hamilton to look for somewhere to live in November of 2012, and while I’d sussed out some empty flats to look at via Trade-Me, nothing prepared me for the state of the place when I got here – whole suburbs were ghost towns of empty student flats, and all I saw on campus when inquiring about post-grad papers were International students doing bridging courses over summer.



Eventually it sank into my stressed-out brain that there were no students here ‘cos they’d all gone home to parents, some of them for jobs but mostly for the free room and board.



Then Studylink announces its new parameters, and suddenly a bunch of previously capable and successful students (postgraduates) were persona-non-grata for study support, and indeed, enrollment in a New Zealand University. This is probably the greatest shift in student allowance availability since the Student Loans Act was passed in 1992. 
Cue tickets to Australia, and a windfall for Monash and its ilk. 
Knowledge Economy, it isn’t.



What are the current batch of undergrad’s supposed to make of this? 
How confident are you, handing in assignments, going to tutorials, aiming for the ‘A’ grade, when suddenly those who were your tutors last year have been told ‘don’t come back’, unless they have no need for student allowances or student loans to cover study costs.



Someone needs to tell the Minister of Education, the Hon Hekia Parata, that this is an unreasonable way to treat those of our student community who have actual proven track record as successful students – after all, post-grad is not a forgone conclusion, it’s something some of us agonise over for a year after completing Hons; and some even go out into the workforce for a few years before returning with enough experience of life to really value our university opportunities. E-mail her here hekia.parata@parliament.govt.nz



What-the-Hekia, this is the longest Recession since the Great Depression of the 1930’s, this is actually the very economic situation that our social welfare ‘safety net’ was designed for – when global conditions go sour, NZ has very little resiliency, due to our over-exposure to export earnings. 



There were no jobs going for the one in four maaori or pasifika students without jobs this summer; and the jobless rate wasn’t much brighter for our ‘cream of the crop’ high achievers, either. 


The net unemployment rate for 15-19-year-olds in the year to December was 30.9% [that’s just under 1 in 3 of the cohort ‘not in employment, education or training’ (NEET)] and for the 20-25-year-old bracket, it’s 18.5% [over 1 in 6 NEET]. 
These are people who can’t get a student loan, entry to a course nearby, or a job. 
They’re the people who aren’t here on campus with you this year, out of the kids you might have known at secondary school.

I tried to get figures from SJS and Winz on student hardship unemployment uptake over summer, but had no replies.
This was going to be an article for Nexus, the student paper at Uni of Waikato, but they seem to have lost possession of their testicles and couldn’t find it in their teeny shrivelled hearts to criticise Hekia Parata, a former WSU President, so here it is on my blog.

So, summer is officially over and students are flocking back to universities all over Aotearoa/NZ. Well, unless you’ve been gated by one or more of the fresh new tertiary education policies pushed out by our Minister for Education, What-the-Hekia Parata, over the summer break. (see Holly’s excellent post on that here.)

I’m acclimatising to a new city and a new campus, and thus, here is an O-week post about the Greens on Campus Waikato. We’ve already met for some KOA action (of which others have posted much more than I this summer, so I won’t go over it again) and we’re just starting on the new “I’m in for the future” campaign to run through 2013.

They’re a keen bunch; Waikato holds the record for sustainability initiatives being put in place earlier than any other campus in Aotearoa/NZ, has some of the flashest recycling bins scattered around the campus I’ve seen anywhere, and environmental science/common sense is ingrained in the University administration.
Looky here, a whole page about the environment on the academic website!

So when campus Greens said they wanted to erect a geodesic dome, WSU said, “sure”.

Cath with the domebuilders

Cath with the domebuilders


From the inside

From the inside

The stall was not adjacent to the dome, which is made of recycled coreflute billboards from the 2011 election campaign, so there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing to keep checking on it and answering questions from bystanders.

Greens on Campus co-convenors Theresa and Amy had organised a really good stall kit, and as we set up at 9am, it all went up very quickly. ‘Many hands make light work’ was truly the order of the day as first the stall, then the geodesic dome were set up.

It was our privilege to have Green MP Cath Delahunty with us for the day, which flew by as we conversed with students, handed out stickers, leaflets and cake, and signed up new and old members to the club.

Cupcakes!

Cupcakes!

stall_people

We even got photographed by the Uni marketing photographer, and this pic went up on the University of Waikato FB page in the ORI 2013 album.
Credit to Stephen Barker/Barker Photography.©The University of Waikato

Uni_PR_stall_team

O hai, where ya been?

February 15, 2013

Apologies to anyone who looks here regularly, I’ve been having what’s euphemistically called ‘a holiday’ while I relocate myself & re-load the Master’s thesis project that got canned back in 2010 when VUW closed Gender & Women’s Studies School.

I’m just getting into the joy of new texts, a new library to strip-mine (joy of joys…) and meeting new supervisors, secondary supervisors and struggling with the concept that I know enough history to do an actual history paper at 500-level, as well as my thesis paper.

If anyone remembers, I was planning an herstory of radical feminist activism in Aotearoa/New Zealand, to be conducted by Oral History methods, covering the 1990’s through to oh, about 2010 .. that end date has morphed ‘cos many conditions in the world have changed, & I keep wanting to add more stuff.
I want to write about how globalisation affected activists here, about the 90’s neoliberal reforms, about hip mamas and random trollops, about the lovers and the fighters of the activist world, who happen to belong to us.
Along the way, I’m discovering, I am going to be dealing with some gnarly frameworks like post-structuralism, US and Euro definitions of ‘third wave’ feminism, and how that applies to the NZ experience, and possibly re-hashing some very old feminist arguments about ‘women and the left’, as those who became disillusioned with NZ political paradigms talk to me.

This where you, dear reader, may come in.
You see, many of the people I first envisaged interviewing have fled NZ since 2007, when I began to design this project. Some are more or less important than they used to be, some of us are sadder and wiser activists who jealously guard our privacy. There are many reasons why someone who might have wanted to participate, maybe doesn’t want to any more.

So this is a (very preliminary) callout to my sistas.
If you know someone (or you may even be someone) who was an activist in environmental work, indigenous rights, alternative political groups, outright radical feminist activity, labour organisation, advocacy for low-income workers or unemployed, you may be someone I’d like to talk to. There will of course be an ethics committee process to go through, but I wouldn’t be an anarchist if I wasn’t prepared to subvert that process by getting a little ahead of it, on my own terms.

You can comment here (all comments are moderated by me, so won’t show immediately. If you don’t want your comment published, say so, I’ll just contact you back privately) and let me know what you think of the project, what you might want to contribute or even criticise, and please, pass this around your networks.

FWIW, I operate at a level of ethical constraint higher than the Human Ethics Committees of most universities here in NZ. My protocol is that which is promulgated by NOHANZ, the National Oral History Association of NZ, based in the Oral History Archives in the Turnbull Library, Wellington. That can be viewed here.

Work that I do during this project will ultimately be archived at the Turnbull Library, in the Oral History Centre, unless participants specifically request their recorded contributions to be returned to them. Archived recordings can be set to varying levels of security, including ‘researcher only’, ‘public access’ and many variables in between. Recordings can be made unavailable for 50 years, in order that participants may be safely departed from this planet before their secrets may be examined, if so desired. Lotsa fun to be had there.

Converging on Parliament Grounds from 1:30pm – 2:00pm at Parliament lawn, Wellington.

Join students, MPs and the public to oppose ACT’s Bill to end universal membership of students’ associations, and push for a reasonable alternative to VSM.

Despite thousands of submissions and local and international evidence against it, National are still supporting ACT’s reckless Bill to end universal membership of students’ associations WHILE being irresponsible with how they implement it. They’re throwing student representation, advocacy and services into an unknown environment with a potential 100% loss of income for students’ associations, putting much of what students value and need at our universities and polytechnics at risk.

National should drop their support for this extreme Bill that undermines the student voice and will cut campus culture. They need to stop treating students like a political football every few years on this issue and instead come to a reasonable and enduring compromise on association membership.

Come hear from MPs opposing the Bill and support the reasonable alternatives that National has so far ignored. Be there on the day of the final vote on the Bill to tell them you still don’t want this Bill to pass.

[Re-posting from NZUSA source, onya NZUSA!]

There will be students from Massey Wellington and VUW coming from their respective campuses.

Update:
Here’s some pix from the rally at Parliament.

M@WSA banner, signed by students

M@WSA banner, signed by students


NZUSA co-pres David Do speaking to the crowd

NZUSA co-pres David Do speaking to the crowd


The placards were very witty

The placards were very witty


I particularly liked this one ...

I particularly liked this one ...


PSA pennants flying in support of student services

PSA pennants flying in support of student services


A forest of placards around the statue

A forest of placards around the statue


Gareth Hughes speaking, flanked by Green & Labour MP's

Gareth Hughes speaking, flanked by Green & Labour MP's


Hone Harawira signing the NZUSA letter

Hone Harawira signing the NZUSA letter


NZUSA letter signed by MP's from Green, Labour Maaori and Mana parties

NZUSA letter signed by MP's from Green, Labour Maaori and Mana parties

This was a big day for me, so I won’t make much comment apart from the captions. I did hear some of the closing debates on the final reading of this bill from the public gallery, which was crowded with students and NZUSA exec members, listening with faint horror as their future was sold down the river. Labour ministers made a strong showing against the Bill, National speakers revealing the depth of their antipathy towards education for the masses. Green, Maaori and Mana speeches to the Bill had all passed by the time I got there. If you’re a real keen bean, look them up on Hansard. You can search by date of debate, name of Bill, or keywords.

Media Advisory:
Meeting 4pm Thursday 18 August, MacLaurin Lecture Theatre,
Kelburn campus, Victoria University

The decision announced earlier today to sack two lecturers in Victoria University’s International Relations programme to make way for new “themes” in the programme based around Security Studies and the Asia-Pacific region will lend urgency to a meeting of staff, students, University Council members and MPs scheduled for 4pm Thursday 18 August at the Kelburn Campus’ MacLaurin Lecture Theatre 102.

“We can’t tell exactly who will be attending the meeting other than students and staff at this stage,” says Tertiary Education Union Organiser, Michael Gilchrist, “but we see the current changes as a watershed issue for the future direction of the university.”

“There is no question of a lack of funds or student demand in the programme. On the contrary, an additional investment is being made. But younger staff, attempting to raise a family and build an academic career, are losing their jobs.

“We are particularly concerned that the university’s Academic and Faculty Boards, representing students and staff have not been consulted and that recent resignations in the programme have not been used to avoid making staff redundant.

“Likewise, students see the alarming implications for the courses they are taught, the relationships they have with lecturers and their plans for progression within disciplines if changes in the wind of management thinking can have this kind of effect.”

**For further information please contact**

Michael Gilchrist 021 770 846 or 04 463 5058

Further information on the situation at Victoria is also available at www.teu.ac.nz

Update:
There is another meeting happening to discuss the change proposal and responses to the VUW Council, on Wednesday 24 August at 5pm, until 8pm, in the Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington.

This meeting is being called to discuss, organise and coordinate nationwide resistance on campus.

Amongst other things, the university is under attack from the government, with VSM set to pass in the next month. It is also under attack from its own management, with lecturers being sacked and research shut down in Wellington; whilst key academic conditions are being taken from academic staff in Auckland.

Robbie Shilliam, a lecturer in International Relations at VUW, will speak briefly about general issues.

Joe Kelly, an ex-student, will speak about past experiences of occupations which have occurred at VUW.

We will then discuss how to most effectively build resistance on campus, and make some plans.

Please invite anyone you think might be interested.

The change proposal can be accessed here.

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